A Call for Order

     In order to maintain a sense of security, individuals rely and look up to institutions. It is an innate inclination individuals have to seek a structured atmosphere. Unfortunately, these institutions become more difficult to maintain in apocalyptic settings. Currently, the focus has shifted towards this notion of a “zombie” apocalypse.  Although there is no solid evidence for this notion, high interest is placed in developing and exploring this area of study. It is within this apocalyptic setting that individuals begin the difficult struggle of truly finding a structured community. By definition, an apocalypse suggests the complete destruction of all society and its institutions. Therefore, it is interesting to note that the majority of texts about the apocalypse revolve around structured communities.

     The television mini-series “In the Flesh” depicts a devastated community’s difficult task of rehabilitating zombies and then proceeding to reintegrate them into society. Kieren Walker, one of the rehabilitated zombies, must abandon his zombie-like appearance and assimilate into society once more. As he attempts to reintegrate, however, the community begins to fight back and reject the government-made decisions. The community, which appears to be fueled by religion, remains in constant fear of these partially-deceased sufferers. By relying solely upon their religious faith, the community is drawing a connection between the disease and sin. By rejecting the zombies, they are essentially remaining pure. Also, they are insinuating that faith is such strong emotion that it can pull together a whole community and help them fight a common enemy.

     Max Brook’s World War Z also centers itself around a strong government background. The narrator, for example, is only publishing his work as a novel due to the fact that the government has rejected his work. The government wants to remain neutral in regards to the events which occurred. The fact that the accounts are so personal insinuates that the government cannot determine how the community decides to remember the past. Brooks’ account is emotional and it cannot be altered. Although the government is fighting against these emotional accounts, the people also seem to be battling back as well.


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Gothic Conventions

1. Female Gothic= The Female Gothic, as opposed to the Male Gothic, centers itself upon female heroines. Having been written by female authors, this genre highly reflects a struggle for sexual and political rights. The Female Gothic does still contain male characters; however, they are seen as antagonist figures who attempt to usurp power.


2. Male Gothic= The Male Gothic centers itself upon troubled images of masculinity. Instead of having strong and masculine male characters, those characters are feminized. This is seen in the Gothic short story “The Magic Mirror”, where Francis’ insecurities with love lead him into temptation, and later self-destruction.


3. Novel= The novel is truly the medium in which the Gothic tradition allows itself to transform. Beginning with Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, the novel begins to truly serve as a useful structure. Within a novel, readers are introduced to gender norms, class structures, and character development. With the transition to short stories, the attention to detail begins to falter and readers lose the the depth of the story.


4.Media= There are many different forms of media used throughout all the texts, from newspapers and telegrams in Dracula to music and journals with American Psycho. By using different forms of media to tell a story it adds to the readers experience, being able to piece together the clues along with the characters builds a deeper connection to these characters. The different media used in the texts also date, and time stamp those novels. Dracula is set in the late 1800’s, because of the use of the telegram. American Psycho is set in the 1980’s it is easy to see due to the musical references, Bono and Genesis.


5 In Medias Res= Simply put this means that the reader is placed in the middle of the action, there is no backstory, the characters exist and the events are occurring. The best example of this in our text is American Psycho, we are just dropped in the story. We as an audience have no idea how Patrick Bateman has gotten to where he is, or why he is doing what he is doing, we just know that he is clinically insane. Obviously the short story lends itself to this aspect of  of the genre, with a limited time and space, the authors utilize this method in order to drive the plot forward.


6.Tabula Rasa= Introduced by John Locke, the idea of the clean state at birth is used most prevalently in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. With the introduction of the creature, Shelley makes the creature completely unaware of the world in which he lives. Teaching himself to read through Paradise Lost in order to gain a sense of his surroundings.


7. Orientalism= Introduced by Edward Said and also written about in Linda Nochlin’s The Imaginary Orient. It is the idealized portrayal of Eastern, “exotic” cultures by the West in literature and art. Usually, it reinforces negative stereotypes and depicts the East as barbaric and promotes the West. This concept is seen in Bram Stoker’s Dracula since the vampire comes from the exotic East and is depicted as violating the West once he shows up in England. By the end of the novel, it is the Westerners that triumph over the vampire.


8. Setting – the castle= The Gothic Novel is an architectural genre that relies on the medieval architecture of the middle ages, such as castles or cathedrals or cemeteries. Even in more modern forms of the literature, the “castle” is depicted through the use of the haunted house (mostly because Americans don’t have castles). Essentially, when Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto, England was going through a time period known as the “Gothic Revival” and it was vital to the creation of this form of literature. The castle in Walpole’s novel is used as a tool to drive the plot since the architecture embodies the curse on Manfred’s family and it houses supernatural events throughout the text. In Stoker’s Dracula, the castle is used to house the vampire in a similar way and it represents an architectural nexus to the past. The Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining may not be a literal castle, but it also has the same approach.


9. Romanticism= the literary period that begins towards the end of the 18th Century after Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and lasts through the 19th Century. This period is known to include poets like Byron, Coleridge, Keats, and Percy Shelley. In essence, this movement refers to picturesque settings to portray the exotic as well as horror and terror which is seen in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when Victor ends up in the arctic.

10. Divine Power= this element has a lot to do with the apparitions and supernatural powers that are often portrayed in the Gothic genre. On the other hand, they are also used as tools against evil like in Stoker’s Dracula where crucifixes, holy water, and blessed wafers become weapons against the vampire. However, there seems to be a lack of this element in Ellis’ American Psycho which adds to the terrifying aspect of the novel since Pat Bateman’s behavior is not supernatural or godlike – he is completely human just like the rest of us and he is capable of doing terrible things like the rest of us.


My fellow group members’ blogs:



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Upholding Tradition

              How would you react if you had the ability to foresee the future? In the polish short story, “The Magic Mirror”, young Francis is tempted by the allure of knowledge and is ultimately defeated as the result of this temptation. After his father’s death, Francis learns of the family secret, which consists of a magical mirror and book. Although he is given the dangerous magic mirror, Francis is also given the book, which serves as a means to destroy this burden. Despite being a short story and not a full novel, “The Magic Mirror” is still able to uphold many of the traditional Gothic conventions.

                In order to fully embrace the Gothic tradition, there needs to be a suspension of disbelief from the reader. Rather than reading the text with a completely literal mindset, readers must allow themselves to be open to various scenarios. In “The Magic Mirror”, for instance, readers must allow themselves to believe that an object such as a magical mirror has the ability to exist. By incorporating the book into the narrative as a means of destroying the magical mirror, the narrator is attempting to justify this magical element. However, readers still have to believe that these two elements can have the ability to exist. Apart from the suspended belief rampant within the text, there is also an overpowering sense of curiosity. Instead of allowing the events to naturally take place, Francis succumbs to the temptation of discovering the future. Regardless of his prior reluctance towards the magical object, he ultimately decides to view into the mirror. Unfortunately, it is this sense of curiosity that ultimately leads Francis to his untimely death.

                Another convention upheld throughout the story is the troubling view of masculinity. Francis is presented as the final male heir to his family. Therefore, his father’s death should have converted him into a more masculine rank. However, throughout the story Francis is continually referred to in a feminized manner. Ignatius first suggests this viewpoint as he informs Francis that his father had been waiting for him to reach maturity to tell him the family secret. The notion that his father never reveals the secret to Francis indicates that Francis has yet to become a man. Also, Francis’ inability to deal with his anxiety over Rosalia further feminizes him. Instead of calmly dealing with Rosalia’s inability to immediately marry him, he rushes to the magical mirror in an effort to seek the truth. Francis’ inability to strongly display masculine characteristics is a reflection of the Gothic conventions.

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Frankenstein’s creature vs. Danny Torrance

Throughout King’s novel, Danny Torrance is plagued with “hallucinations”. We witness the hallucination of Tony, a friend which helps Danny escape from household violence. However, what if Danny Torrance were to summon other imaginative beings? How might his interaction with Frankenstein’s creature, for example, play out? Would Wendy and Jack still ignore the truth behind Danny’s gifts? Watch the video to find out!

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The Fast Track to Destruction

      Perseverance and determination, traits commonly sought for, both entail a positive and fulfilling outcome for those who are able to achieve a balance between them. Although the mere notion of an achieved success could be tempting for some, it is possible for those traits to result in dire circumstances. Both Stephen King, in The Shining, and Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein, address these possibilities. Rather than creating protagonists which become successful through their determination, King and Shelley introduce Jack Torrance and Victor Frankenstein, who both fall as a result of their efforts to succeed. By allowing themselves to obsess in efforts to succeed, they both ultimately destroy themselves in an effort to place themselves ahead.  

      Victor Frankenstein’s obsession to reanimate life leads him into the grim realization that his masterpiece is none other than a horrific monster. In fact, it is not long after Frankenstein creates his monster that he becomes aware of its horrific nature. Victor Frankenstein becomes “mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment: dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space, were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete!” (Shelley, 38) His anticipation for a successful creation is built up by Frankenstein’s complete obsession with his task at hand. Shelley describes him as reclusive during those two years, as well as burdened by his dedication to the monster he is creating. However, once he realizes that he has created a creature   vastly different than a human, he becomes overpowered by a “nervous fever, which confined [Victor] for several months.” (Shelley, 41) His decline into an infirm state of mind reveals the gravity of destruction that occurs at the hands of one’s obsession with success.

      Although Jack Torrance’s state of mind is not impacted as intensely as Victor Frankenstein’s state of mind at this point in time, Torrance’s familial structure becomes victim to his obsession with financial success. By accepting the job at the Overlook Hotel, Jack Torrance is hoping to finally provide a sense of financial security for his family. Having lost his job as a professor due to his foul temper, Torrance is desperate to redeem himself for his actions and to prove to his wife and son that he can be financially supportive. He becomes so obsessed with this goal, however, that he places his family at risk in order to accept the terms and conditions of his new job. After one of Danny’s hallucinations, Torrance shows remorse over his decision to place his family at risk within the Overlook. Jack Torrance states, “’When I had that interview with Ullman, I thought he was just blowing off his bazoo. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I really shouldn’t have tried this with you two along. Forty miles from nowhere.” (King, 188) So far within the narrative, no damaging effects have been brought upon the family. However, there are numerous implications that the familial structure is suffering as a result of being included within the hotel. Not only is the gravity of Danny’s hallucinations worsening, but also numerous references are made to Torrance’s alcoholic tendencies and possible looming divorce. By allowing himself to become obsessed with providing for his family, he ultimately places his family in danger.

King, Stephen. The Shining. New York: Anchor Books, 1977. Print.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. Print.
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Dreams can be Terrifying

           Horror novels have the ability to harness some of the darkest emotions from its audiences. Through its written word, the horror novel can suggest horrific moments in time, beastly monsters, and even terrifying elements of the supernatural. It is the job of a horror novel to incorporate these various elements in an attempt to evoke true feelings of horror from its audiences. In order to create such novels of horror, writers have to focus all of their imagination into creating these terrifying elements. Stephen King and Mary Shelley pin dreams as their source of inspiration for their respective novels. Unable to imagine horrific creatures on demand, these writers have waited until they became truly plagued by a monster of their true creative imagination. Understanding the power behind the unbridled imaginative force behind dreams, King and Shelley utilize the source of creativity in order to imagine truly horrific stories, which eventually lead them both closer to reaching the sublime.

                In an attempt to push himself into creating a truly unique novel, Stephen King chooses to concentrate his novel within the realm of reality. King does state that everybody has the capability of seeing the world in this lens of horror. However, people choose to filter out these negative thoughts. By conditioning ourselves to avoid the horrific potential of our imagination, we deprive ourselves from the fabricated monsters that we hold within. King not only wants to pursue these repressed elements of imagination, but he also wants to further add to the horror by basing those events in reality. By basing his stories and characters in a realistic setting, his audience has no real escape from the horrific potential.

                In creating her own novel, Mary Shelley utilizes her imagination in order to freely explore a different sense of herself. Growing up in the country, Shelley does not feel as if her lifestyle is as unique as the lives of literary heroines. Therefore, she takes advantage of her writing and truly uses writing as a creative escape from her own reality. In order to fabricate Frankenstein’s monster, Shelley needs to become completely taken aback by a dream. Through one of her recurring dreams, she envisions the monster and grows terrified of it. In fact, she is even unable to relinquish the idea from her mind. Acknowledging her own fear of this mere idea, Shelley understands the true potential that Frankenstein’s monster holds for audiences. Unlike Stephen King, Shelley does not utilize reality as a means to further scare readers. Instead, she allows herself to become a victim to her imagination in order to create a more terrifying monster.

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Let the Right One In

Here are some helpful links to further understand our presentation.

  • Timeline of the development of vampires—specifically Dracula


  • Trailer to “Let the Right One In”


  • Scene from the film–notion of inviting vampires into the home


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