The gothic horror genre

Immediately before Jonathan makes the discovery of Dracula’s resting place, there are some very intense Gothic description that builds up until the incident of horror. Jonathan describes, “… the stairs were dark… at the bottom there was a dark, tunnel-like passage through which came a deathly, sickly odour” which gives the reader feelings of tenseness. Gothic descriptions tend to be, deathly, dark and dreary. Dracula’s “eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death… the lips were as red as ever… I fled from the place.

” This describes Dracula as dead and alive, the living dead.

There is suggestion that Frankenstein’s Monster is also the living dead. ” With his watery eyes that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. ” This describing the living monster sounds as if it describing a dead man. As something major is going to happen tension is often built up via intense description and pathetic fallacy.

“The wind came now with fiercer and more bitter sweeps. ” As the weather is worsening so is the situation. Pathetic fallacy is also used often in this way in Frankenstein too.

“The rain pattered dismally against the pains and my candle was nearly burnt out. ” The dismal rain sets a dismal atmosphere. The mention of the candle almost burnt out suggests that something dire is about to happen. There is often supernatural description in gothic horror novels. In Dracula Lucy is described as being “… like a nightmare of Lucy… the pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth … the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity” This is typical of the Gothic horror genre.

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The idea of vampires is super natural and is Gothic in itself. Again, the descriptions become ever more intense, leading up to horror. The horror here is the act of releasing Lucy’s spirit from the possessed body. As the stake is hammered into the heart “The Thing in the coffin writhed… The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions… while the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. ” This again demonstrates the Gothic tradition and the horror that is connected to it. The blood here symbolises anger, hate and passion.

The demon is fighting to stay within the body and so is “writhing” and “twisting” in frustration. Lucy is no longer a human being. The men have now realised that her mind and soul no longer exist. She has been reduced to an ‘it. ‘ When the monster in Frankenstein is first brought to life Victor sees ” I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open. ” The unnatural colour of the eyes suggests that the monster is supernatural. This also brings fear to the reader as he may be seen as dangerous. In Dracula religion is used as a literacy device.

Whilst in Transylvania, Jonathan speaks of how the local people offer him gifts, such as a crucifix. This shows the close tie of the Holy cross, linked into their supernatural beliefs. The old woman says that, “It is the eve of St. George’s Day… [and]… when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway… ” This suggests that she is scared for Jonathan. With her fear, she offers him a crucifix, as do travellers later on. Mina Harkers incident is an obvious show of religion used. After Dracula has bitten her, she reaches a period of depression.

Mina shows her self-hatred to be a mixture of religion, shock and horror. Mina feels that she is now “Unclean, Unclean!.. I am now his worst enemy… ” referring to her husband. She feels that now Dracula has bitten her, she is a Vampire also and that she should be killed. Van Helsing attempts to protect Mina against any further attack. He touches a piece of sacred wafer on her forehead. “There was a fearful scream… As he had placed the wafer on Mina’s forehead, it had seared it – had burned into the flesh as though it had been a piece of white-hot metal.

” This suggests that there is evil and super natural presence within Mina and religion is able to harm or even defeat it. Van Helsing acknowledges that Mina “… may have to bear that mark till God Himself sees fit, as He most surely shall, on the Judgement Day to redress all wrongs… when that red scar… shall pass away and leave your forehead as pure as the heart we know. ” This suggests that Mina’s scar is seen as the mark of evil. There is an indication that When she dies all her evil shall be dismissed she shall be judged by god on her pure self only not Dracula’s curse.

The characters here believe that their faith in God shall save them. Religion seems to be a ‘safety net’ for the vulnerable and for those who are exposed to danger. It reflects the Gothic feeling to the novel and so contrasts good and evil, which seems to be a significant theme, particularly towards the end of the novel. Religion is not such an important theme used by Mary Shelley, though her characters make exclamations that mention such things as God in times of fear or shock. Frankenstein often refers to his creation as a “Devil” or a “Demon”.

This is ironic because it was he who created the monster, and it was he who performed the ghastly task of putting it together, so does that not make him the devil and the monster but a pure human. Frankenstein says that his brother, William “… now sleeps with his angel mother! ” which is a biblical image. This shows the horror and grief that is felt by Frankenstein and his family as it emphasises William’s purity and innocence. Frankenstein realises that he has, inadvertently caused William’s death. His unnatural and unholy creation has murdered a sweet and innocent child.

A significant theme that Shelley uses to a great extent is science. As Frankenstein’s chosen occupation is within the scientific field, themes arising from this, cover a majority of the novel. Towards the beginning of the novel, Frankenstein is a student. His first mention of a creation, he says that, “The raising of ghosts and devils was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite authors… ” showing his observation of the matter. It seems to be Frankenstein’s study of others and determination that makes his ideas to be horrific.

He is a well-educated young man, who feels that he must prove himself, but he does not realise the implications of this. Frankenstein speaks of his ancient philosophers as one would of a God. Punctuation and the language that is used is a very important device. This is shown significantly in Dracula with Jonathan’s feelings of shock. He says, “There lay the count, but looking as if his youth had been half renewed,… on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. ” This is exceptionally long sentence.

This suggests Jonathan is making a hurried description because he is breathless, confused and in shock. He only half believes what he has seen. He later exclaims that he is, “… alone in the castle with those awful women. Faugh!… They are devils of the pit!… Goodbye, all! Mina! ” conveying his desperate situation to the reader. Stoker uses exclamation marks in order to portray Jonathan’s shock, these create a certain abruptness to the text, thus shocking the reader. Commas and semi-colons are used here. These suggest to the reader sharp intakes of breath, hence indicating shock and fear.

There is also repetition of the word “and” this seems to add to the description, therefore the situation feels more intense. Frankenstein seems to be a novel that deals with morals, conventions and the significance of human beings as a whole. Where as Dracula is deals more with humans as individuals. Two very different styles are used in Dracula and Frankenstein. Although both convey what is essentially known as ‘Gothic horror’, they are two very different stories and they set out to suggest very different morals through the themes that are used.

Despite the fact that each author suggests different morals, they do both touch on the importance and meaning of human life. The novels were both written in a time where people were questioning their place in the world. The two monsters portrayed within the novels perhaps reflect society during that period. I enjoyed both novels especially Dracula due to the unique way the novel had been structured. Both novels shared similar moral messages though Frankenstein was probably more clear than that that of Dracula’s.

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The gothic horror genre. (2017, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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