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'The real horror of gothic comes not from buckets of blood or spectres or spooks, but from its power to make us face up to the dark and frightening regions within ourselves.' (Christie Gerrard, The English Discuss). Discuss with reference to three texts.

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Introduction

English Prose Essay 'The real horror of gothic comes not from buckets of blood or spectres or spooks, but from its power to make us face up to the dark and frightening regions within ourselves.' (Christie Gerrard, The English Discuss). Discuss with reference to three texts. I agree with the quote by Christie Gerrard that 'The real horror of gothic comes not from buckets of blood or spectres or spooks, but from its power to make us face up to the dark and frightening regions within ourselves; as I have researched it and found evidence within some texts from the gothic period that support the quote. I think that the 'dark and frightening regions within ourselves' refer to the inner feelings of every person that has read these books and how they know that they have the ability to commit the crimes and deeds. The phrase refers to the fear of human nature; it is not the horror props found within a gothic horror that makes them scary, but the realism they refer to. It is not the books that are scary, but the human nature behind them that is. It is the way the readers of the book realise that the events told could happen to them, that they could commit these murders, that they could become mad. It is because of this human nature that the books sell so well. The books themselves are fairly simple, lame, non scary and every story are almost identical to another, but they sold nonetheless because people become addicted to realism and truth behind them. This was more evident in Victorian times when Gothic Horror books were first published. During this time, the majority of readers were middle and upper class women who had nothing else to do but read books and contemplate their meanings and the truth behind them. The books were also more shocking at this time as they came as part of The Romanticism Period and went against everything that came from The Age of Enlightenment. ...read more.

Middle

These thoughts would have been the thoughts that Montressor will have had before he decided to commit the murder. His actions seem more shocking, maddening and frightening as he shows many signs of normality and a sane lifestyle. Montressor as the narrator explains how there: 'were no attendants at home: they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and have given them explicit orders not to stir from the house' Therefore, assuming that the people he is referring to are his servants as he is commanding them, shows he is a man or wealth and of a higher class; making it more shocking that he could have committed this crime and as a result makes the reader thinks that if a member of the upper classes could do this, surely they could to. The way that Montressor executes the crime and the build up to it also provides an insight into an educated and sane lifestyle; he is very clever and conniving in the events leading up to the murder, therefore showing that he is fairly educated. The conversation he has with Fortunato on the way to the catacombs also proves that he is a member of the masons, an organisation that specialises in building character and its members are all British stone masons. By being a member of this organisation, it makes Montressor seem more normal, and makes it more shocking that he could commit this crime. That is why the story is scary. Not for the cruel way in which Montressor buries Fortunato, but for the shocking way in which a seemingly sane and normal man, shows a completely different side of himself and lets his inner madness result in the murder of a man; all because of an insult. This makes the reader worry and think that if a man like this could turn so suddenly and dramatically, surely they could; after all, everyone has the ability and the mindset hidden within themselves to commit a murder if they are pushed enough. ...read more.

Conclusion

The best example of this is where Montressor reveals that there will be no attendants at home: 'I had told them not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient; I well knew, to ensure their immediate disappearance...' As at this point he is explaining to himself as well as the reader. Charles Dickens also uses first person in many of his stories including 'David Copperfield' and 'The Holly-Tree'. However, unlike Poe, Dickens uses first person in 'The Signalman' to place the reader in front of the madman, the signalman, so they can empathise with him. By putting the reader in the position of someone else apart from the madman himself, the readers can establish for themselves the extent of his madness and what they feel for him. This is used to great effect in 'The Signalman', especially when as the narrator leaves after his second visit. During this time, he is struggling with his thoughts about what to do and so is the reader: 'But what ran most through my mind was the consideration how I ought to act, having become a recipient of the disclosure?' However, while he can't decide what to do next, the readers contemplate their feelings for the signalman. In conclusion, I agree with the quote by Christie Gerrard that the fear factor of gothic horror comes from the realism; we all have the ability and the potential mindset to become the madman within the story. I think that is why the books have remained frightening and popular; because although times and books change and develop new styles, human nature will always remain the same. Therefore, readers of any age and time will be scared of becoming the madman in the stories because we humans will always have the ability and mindset to become mad, deranged or paranoid. We see this more and more in our everyday society with seemingly rational and peaceful people turning to acts of terrorism and violence. ...read more.

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