Monday, 29 November 2010
Lovecraft claims ‘An appropriate atmosphere is absolutely essential to the Gothic mode’.
Building settings- A typical gothic story is set in and around a caste, graveyard, cave, convent, monastery, church, cathedral, chapel or dungeon. The building possesses the occupants or holds them in bondage – Marshall Tymn. The idea of a secluded place is an ongoing theme.
Natural settings- Secluded places in general, mountain ranges, wild forests etc.
Architectural paraphernalia such as towers, trapdoors, mysterious corridors, rust, hinges, creaking, tunnels, dim lights, flickering candles, burial vaults, suits of armour, prophecies, ghosts, chains, portraits, fluttering bats, storms, lightning and fast billowing winds all serve towards trapping their helpless victims and creating a gothic atmosphere. They add to the aura of terror and mystery that define a gothic genre.
There is often an intermingling of terror and beauty. ( as seen with Dracula’s wives ) and this is often a common theme when it comes to vampires.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Notations on Victorian Morality, Religion and Description.
Victorian Morality – A set of values linked with sexual restraint, low tolerance of crime and social ethics – Dracula links well with the ideas of sexual restraint, for example when Harker restrains himself away from the sexual temptations from Dracula’s wives. Dracula, arguably a sexual predator – (linking back to the ideas of Freud), the exchange of bodily fluids (blood in Dracula’s case), the idea of penetration from one personal to another (from the fangs).
Tolerance of crime – The lack of tolerance the team has to allow Dracula to commit such crimes. The idea that they all work together in order to bring Dracula down, putting their own lives at risk.
The idea of British society clashing with Dracula’s culture in Transylvania - (with the suggestion of lower class gypsies etc. Being used) During the Victorian morality there is the idea of dignity and restraint in Victorian society, but underneath there is the contrast of child labour and prostitution. This links to Dracula and his hierarchy nature as a ‘Count’, but his underlying animalistic temperament.
Religion morality – The idea that the Church’s power was more prominent in rural areas rather than industrial ones. Linking to Dracula, the inner city provided less danger from the church (out of fear of crosses and being hunted etc), the inner city may be a safe environment for him. Dracula may also favour it due to the larger population. (If he kills someone they are more likely to go un-missed, targets are easier, more choice, more places to hide etc.)
There is also further emphasis on the ‘crisis of faith’ – Religion being undermined by Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory, uprooting people’s belief systems. Stoker could arguably be combating this – As Dracula’s downfall is due to people belief, however this could be ironic as he is writing a fictional novel consisting of vampires and strong elements of the supernatural.
Description - The idea of ‘proper’ reference use in Literature. The sexual restraint theme again emerges. We must use the word ‘limb’ as opposed to ‘leg’. (However arguably contradicted by Queen Victoria’s erotic artistic collections and her indulgence in eroticism exchanged with her husband. Seems to be a facade. Links once again to Dracula – his dignified character on the outside, very formal and controlled. Demonstrated through his use of formal language, “Enter freely and of your own will”. Yet his animalistic qualities are beneath this.
The idea of homosexuality in Britain being considered as a sin in religion. This could be linked to the idea of un restrained sexuality in Dracula – as Dracula feeds on men as well as women, links to the idea of a man penetrating a man.
Monday, 15 November 2010
How Dracula is presented in chapter 3
Dracula, from the very beginning is undoubtedly seen in a very disturbing light, illustrated from Harker’s immediate attention paid to his appearance. He is dressed head to toe in ‘black’ would could illustrate a dark element to his character, the colour black is also associated with the idea of death, mourning and the gothic. He radiates the idea of the supernatural from the moment Harker notices his strength, “I could not help but notice his prestigious strength...like a steel vice that could have crushed mine if it had chosen”, not only does this emphasise the idea of the Count’s abnormal strength but also arguably foreshadows his evil nature when Harker notices how Dracula could “crush” him if he had chosen to. We must also note that the idea of a man of Dracula’s age accompanied with mighty strength he seems to posses also emphasises his abnormal qualities. Harker also remarks “More like the hand of a dead than a living man”, provoking suspicions towards the reader, also associated with the idea of vampires, teamed with the teeth and the ‘aquiline features’ and his pale complexion, all contribute to the idea of the supernatural and a strong resemblance to that of a vampire.
Harker describes him as having very marked ‘physiognomy’. This would imply that the reader can judge Dracula’s temperament and character through the following descriptions of his facial features. Harker describes Dracula as having very animalistic features, such as ‘bushy hair that curled in its own profusion’ accompanied with ‘particularly sharp white teeth that protruded over the lip’ and ‘extremely pointed ears’, this animalistic imagery could arguably provoke a sense of danger within Dracula’s inner nature, and perhaps a unpredictable state of mind as well as representing the idea of a threat. His eyebrows make him appear very foreign, as Harker notes ‘Eyebrows were very massive’. This could emphasise his abnormality, depicting him as different from everybody else. His ‘Heavy moustache’ also complies with the idea of him being of a foreign nature. His mouth is described as being ‘fixed and rather cruel looking’, suggesting he holds sadistic features and also emits a strong demonic nature. Overall, I think it’s fair to say, DRACULA IS OBVIOUSLY AN EVIL VAMPIRE.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Sunday, 7 November 2010
How does stoker help us to suspend disbelief in chapter one of Dracula?
The novel commences in a non-fictional tone, taking the format of a typical journal. This particular format is often associated with an individual’s reality and truth of their day to day activities, creating the illusion of reality directly through the configuration Stoker uses. Not only is it a journal, it is also technical and specific as demonstrated on page one, “Munich at 8.35 p.m on the 1st of May”, which in addition emphasises the illusion of reality. There is further emphasis on every life during Jonathon Harker’s daily description, in which he describes his environment and journey specifically along with the meals he ate and his enjoyment, “ I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red peppers”. These are experiences to which the reader can relate to, creating the appearance of verisimilitude, accompanied with existing places which are brought in to context such as “London”, “the British museum” and “Transylvania”. The fact that the reader cannot deny that these places exist creates a factual illusion of authenticity which inevitably suspends the disbelief arguably appears towards the end of chapter one.
Harker’s disbelief is also used in order to suspend our disbelief. He uses the phrase “I read that every know superstition”, which allows the reader to not to believe its unbelievable. Even when fear is introduced by the wariness of those surrounding him, Harker’s attitude is somewhat comforting to the reader and allows further disbelief to be applied when he himself uses the expression “very ridiculous”, on page five. He allows the reader the opportunity to disregard the abnormal behaviour existing around him in order for us to continue suspending our doubt.
However we must note that the journal format may not be all together reliable, as we are entrusted only with the re-counted events that Jonathon Harker experiences. The reader may be wary of exaggeration and miss-told experiences, as well as memory loss and his tired state of mind from all his travels, which may influence what he interprets to be real.
A few key notations on vampires
Vampires are known to be mythological creatures. They are associated with drinking the blood of humans in order to subsist, and are similarly associated with the fangs to which they use to drink the blood from the neck of their victims. Vampires are also associated with mystery, evil, supernatural abilities (such as super human strength and heightened sense of smell and hearing, super speed and super human agility.)
It is claimed by Brian Frost that the ‘belief’ in vampires and such like may date back to even pre historic times. The most well known tale on vampires is Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ – Although now it may be twilight, you never know.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
How Faustus can be seen as a gothic text.
First when approaching this question it would make sense to assess Faustus as a gothic protagonist. We expect a tragic hero to have a high status. Faustus beginning with ‘base of stock’ has seemingly created his personal hierarchy. He is now ‘graced with doctor’s name’ and he dines alongside ‘noblemen’. The gothic protagonist must also possess the standard hero qualities we as an audience aspect, such as a hubris and a dramatic downfall. This is also usually linked with a fixation of some kind, in Faustus’ case; magic. It could be argued that his obsession with magic and his thirst for power endeavours him to conjure Mephistopheles and indulge in necromancy, in order to try and become omnipotent, however the selling of his soul inevitably ends up with him being dragged in to the realm of hell, as promised, by Mephistopheles and Lucifer. We expect our gothic protagonist to have a sinister element or as others may argue a slight touch of evil, which Faustus portrays in his joy at creating havoc amongst the pope and his men and with torturing the Old man, as seen on page 179, ‘they menace the old man’. His obsession with magic and his strive for control also illustrates this. However a gothic protagonist is also usually associated with some form of intimidating appearance, which is where Faustus is lacking. However Faustus is noticeably set up as a typically dodgy, gothic protagonist in the beginning of the novel, where he begins by talking in third person, “Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin.” His irrational, objective and analytical personality set up the ongoing slope towards his tragic downfall.
A concept of the demonic which is largely featured throughout Faustus is religion. Interestingly the belief that Satan is in Hell has its roots in Christian literature rather than in the bible. The Bible states that he still roams heaven and Earth. This would relate to Mephistopheles, and the way he walks amongst Faustus and the humans on the Earth, and describes heaven as being all around, page 147, ‘Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it’. Faustus has also studied religion and has excelled in it, but rejects developing it further, and refers to ‘Jerome’, the founder figure of the bible who translated the bible in to Latin and joined it all together. Faustus rejects the study of God, arguably mocking it with his breezy tone and his quote ‘che sera sera’. This could take emphasis off the importance of religion as Faustus seems not to value it, which could also make it less intimidating towards the audience making it less of a tragic text. However religion is an ongoing theme throughout, with many references to God, when the Old man see’s Angels, the features of Lucifer and all the devils are religion themes, and the idea of heaven and hell teamed with Faustus’ damnation. However Marlow himself has been accused of being an Atheist, and if this is true then it casts a great deal of doubt on his in his ability to moralize from a Christian stance.
Gothic texts also usually include supernatural elements. White and black magic is featured within Faustus. Black magic is seen by some to be the practice of an evil practice which uses nature but with the invocation of demons, which is the magic which Marlowe uses in his great work Faustus. The use of necromancy on it’s own reveals a crucial element of the supernatural on it’s own, accompanied by the devils, angels and magical practices such as turning invisible, all of which are featured in Faustus, surrounding him, making the novel seem highly dramatic and supporting the Gothic genre.
Another element of the Gothic is it’s ability to induce fear upon the audience. Hell is largely used in order to do this. When Faustus see’s Lucifer for the first time he quotes on page 159, ‘who art thou that look’st so terrible?’ The idea of a negative and surprising appearance is intimidating to the audience, as it is normally associated with the gothic protagonist and is very threatening. Mephistopheles also reacts to hell with a very daunting attitude. On page 147 he says ‘tormented with ten thousand hells’, the quote ‘ten thousand hells’ holds great emphasis on the suffering Mephistopheles associates with hell, making the idea seem unapproachable to the audience and very frightening. However Faustus and his nonchalant attitude towards hell contradict this fear, which is usually displayed in gothic texts. He believes ‘hell’s a fable’ and disregards Mephistopheles ongoing warnings. Although the audience may see Faustus as naive his upmost ignorance towards hell slightly deflates the intense fear surrounding the idea of hell.
Another element which undermines Faustus as a gothic text is the use of the clown like characters’ Robin and Raef. Their lack of fear and utter unawareness radiates a sense of implausibility and security for the audience. When turned in to animals they Robin reacts with ‘Thy head will never be out of the pottage pot’, on page 167. Raef similarly reactes with ‘And I must be a dog’. Their careless attitudes and lack of intelligence provide comedy, an aspect which is not traditionally associated with the gothic genre. Similarly Faustus displays a clown like aspect to his personality unexpectedly. His mockery of the pope and his childish behaviour also have an impact on how serious the audience may then take the play, undermining the fear factor and arguably demoting the gothic aspect of the text.
However another supporting theme in Faustus is the negative portrayal that lies within sides of human nature, a theme which is commonly associated with gothic literature. In Othello we see him as a hero, a strong, devoted, loyal and powerful leader, however the evil side is brought out in his jealous nature which leads to his sinful murderous acts. Faustus displays negative human traits such as arrogance and his hunger for power. Although his motivation may be seen in a positive light he seeks no good with his ambitions, only to gain omnipotence. His power thirsty side is shown on page 141, when Faustus remarks ‘All things that move between the quiet poles shall be at my command’ and ‘of power, of honour, of omnipotence’. This attitude is a common theme associated with the typical evil character, and a modern audience would immediately associate this with iconic characters from films that strive to ‘take over the world’.
Overall Marlowe’s Faustus contains many recurring themes, all of which support the idea that it can be seen as a Gothic text, in particular the idea of the supernatural and the ongoing references to religion and all things associated with it such as hell and God. There are however certain things which could arguably lighten the mood, but mainly Faustus is seen as a sinful tale, portrayed in a gothic light.