Gothic Literature As The Art of Horror Genre

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In literature, horror fiction aims to stir fear within readers. Horror itself has many sub-genres, the style of gothic being one of the more common ones. Gothic literature effortlessly blends horror with aspects of romance. Although, the romance in gothic literature hinges on sensibility with a far more dreadful path. Anne Rice successfully indicated horror and the gothic style within her novel. In her novel Interview with the Vampire, Rice exhibits anti-hero behaviors and qualities within her protagonist, follows the scheme of romanticism within its respective sub-genre, and demonstrates the use of supernatural beings within her text.

A unique characteristic to the horror genre, more specifically gothic, is the idea of anti-heroism in their protagonists. In gothic literature, protagonists are often lacking in generic hero attributes, they come off as villainous or as having twisted morals, but they ultimately heroes. Lisa says, “The Gothic protagonist is often portrayed as flawed, lonesome, isolated, or outcast figure who has overcome obstacles in order to rejoin society.”(Owlcation). This is significant because it shines a new light on the role of the protagonist. Anti-heroism displays that not all heroes can be moral compasses or act courageous. Protagonists are not clean-cut they have flaws just like any other character. This allows the reader to explore the arc and character development of the protagonist more in depth. Furthermore, the novel Interview with the Vampire illustrates the quality of anti-heroism when the protagonist, Louis Du Lac, grapples with his ideologies of good and evil. Throughout the novel Louis struggled with the nature of being a vampire, resulting in his own existential crisis: “People who cease to believe in God or goodness although still believe in the devil… Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult” (Rice, 67). Louis narrates his struggle with accepting the fact of trying to be good, while still inherently being evil. This is significant because he acknowledges that one cannot exist without the other, he knows that he must overcome the obstacle of his own vampire nature. Louis understands it will be difficult to become good because he still sees himself has evil. Therefore, the characteristic of anti-heroism displays the protagonist as villainous during their respective arcs, but still maintains the title of hero within their novel.

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Within the Gothic genre authors often follow the theme of romanticism inside their style of text. Gothic fiction utilizes the style of romanticism in terms of romanticizing the past. According to Lisa, “A gothic novel is something of an inverted romance, as it tends to see things from the steamy side… In line with its setting, gothic lit often romanticized and revisits the past.”(Owlcation). This is significant because by romanticizing the past it makes the romance (relationship) appear far more desirable and glorious, rather than at first glance. This allows the reader to infer and understand the characters and their emotions in better depth, no matter how complex or generic. Moreover, Anne Rice’s novel demonstrates romanticism when Armand reminisces about the relationship between him and his maker in a conversation with Louis. Armand expresses his profound love for the vampire that turned him: “‘Love?’ I asked. ‘There was love between you and the vampire who made you?’… ‘yes,’ Armand said. ‘a love so strong he couldn’t allow me to grow old and die’” (Rice, 425-426). This is significant because Armand explain how his maker and he were deeply in love, he does this through romanticizing their past. Armand explicitly says to Louis that in the past he and his maker were so infatuated with each other that the only rational decision his maker could come up with was turning him into a vampire. In essence, gothic fiction it often illustrates the style of romanticism through idealizing the past between characters. Finally, the horror/gothic genre continuously demonstrates the use of supernatural entities within its text. In horror and gothic fiction, supernatural characters are used as driving forces for the story as humans are faced with the unknown. Supernatural characters are very important to the horror genre: “A supernatural horror is work of fiction that relies heavily on the supernatural or paranormal elements to drive the story, featuring things like ghosts, monsters, demons, aliens, witchcraft, zombies, and so on. The main source of terror in supernatural horrors is the human reaction to being faced with the unknown” (Literary Terms). This is significant because supernatural entities give more of a terrifying drive to the story, this increases shock value in readers. The purpose of having these human characters faced with the unknown is to create a sense of fear. In addition, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire follows a vampire recounting his 200 years of life, starting with him as a human and leading all the way up until present day, this is the driving force of the story. Louis reminisces on his experience turning into a vampire: “I saw as a vampire… it was as if I had only just been able to see colors and shapes for the first time.” (Rice, 21). Louis sees for the first time after being turned into a vampire and is hypnotized by the feeling. This is significant because this sparks the start of Louis’ journey, where he will never be the same person again. Louis becoming a vampire starts the driving force of the story, which follows his life. Therefore, horror/gothic literature utilizes supernatural entities within its texts.

Anne Rice, author of the novel Interview with the Vampire successfully demonstrates anti-heroism within her protagonist, exhibited the theme of romanticism in its respective sub-genre, and utilizes supernatural characters within her texts. Anti-hero protagonists have villainous traits but are still ultimately heroes, this is significant because throughout the novel Louis struggles with good and evil. Gothic fiction utilizes romanticism through romanticizing the past, this is relevant because Armand revealed and romanticizes his past relationship with his maker. In horror and gothic fiction, supernatural characters are used as driving forces for the storyline, this is factual because Louis’ vampirism is the driving point for the novel. In short, horror novels are meant to get your heart racing and blood pumping, but when they succeed in that goal, there is truly nothing more terrifying.

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Gothic Literature As The Art of Horror Genre. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/gothic-literature-as-the-art-of-horror-genre/
“Gothic Literature As The Art of Horror Genre.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/gothic-literature-as-the-art-of-horror-genre/
Gothic Literature As The Art of Horror Genre. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/gothic-literature-as-the-art-of-horror-genre/> [Accessed 19 Jul. 2024].
Gothic Literature As The Art of Horror Genre [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Jul 19]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/gothic-literature-as-the-art-of-horror-genre/
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