“It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.” Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Part of the problem with studying Gothic Literature at a graduate level, is that people often tend to meet your passionate thesis exclamations with mixed emotions. Well actually, no there’s just the fear.
When I used to work at a bookstore, I’d get parents asking for the latest popular novel in the Young Adult or Children’s Fiction section. Naturally, with the influx of tantalizing morbidity, most of those books would be tales of vampires, wolves or other things that go bump in the night. My recommendations would be treated with a shunning away (maybe running away) and sometimes an imaginary signing of the crucifix (despite the fact that underneath all my black clothes and black eyeliner I’m a deeply spiritually aware person).
Ok no serioso…I am quite spiritually inclined.
It occurred to me that Gothic Fiction (whether for kids or not) gets a bad rep. It’s seen as sinful, sexual, horrid and vulgar. All the hues of evil. Did everyone just completely miss the stories in The Pilgrim’s Progress? Shakespeare? The best way to reach awareness is to dig deep into the light and darkness. To be human is to co-exist with monsters within ourselves every day. To be a successful human is to look those monsters in the face and slay them. Pretending they’re not there should be your first sign that you’re in complete denial about what it means to live and grow, and be a better version of yourself. Most of the time, Gothic elements in literature are a means of emancipation: a reminder for the need of self-expression, freedom and rejection of the things in society that keep us chained to the numbed zombie version of ourselves, or the perceptions that one should be tame, controlled and perfect.
Then she saw that the house-door was shut and rushed up to the attic and sat there, the stupid woman, trembling all over. Then the young lady came after her and bit her too, poor fool! The next morning Cheptoun carried his wife, all bitten and wounded, down from the attic, and the next day she died. Such strange things happen in the world. One may wear fine clothes, but that does not matter; a witch is and remains a witch.” Viy, Nikolai Gogol
Anyway, I’m getting off topic here. So, I have a deep love of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I find Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla quite mesmerizing, Stoker’s Dracula ‘too cool for school’ and besides all the typically popular Gothic successes, I am rediscovering/ discovering the allure of Poe’s ‘macabre’, Hawthorne’s ‘Dark Romanticism’ and Gogol’s witty take on the supernatural. But try voicing this sultry and evocative interest to the world: I am aware of the hiss of ‘witch’ and ‘weirdo’ lulling about the shadows of the corridors…contrary to popular belief we Goth Lit students are just as cute and cuddly as the next freakball. So I thought I’d just go ahead and clear that up! 😉
Yes we are often melodramatic…
and maybe sometimes we like to hang out on ledges contemplating what’s for dinner…
but we’re seriously made of sugar
All that black shouldn’t fool the world from the fact that we’re one with the fun (unless of course you stand too close to us at a bar- it’s not my fault your face is bleeding from my punch dude)
one with the love
sometimes too much love
and you can be sure that we’ll always have something inspiring to add to your day :
That said, I’d like to leave you with some educational humor entitled A Brief History of Goth via Pitchfork on YouTube. Here’s hoping I cleared up any dire misconceptions regarding the plight of those of us who love sitting at campfires, eating marshmallows and scaring the crap out of you.
“…and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to mind with ambiguous alterations–sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.” Carmilla, J.Sheridan Le Fanu