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The Develoment of the Horror Genre

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The term Gothic is significant for the understanding of the origins and development of the horror genre. Both of these genres differ, whilst Gothic literature is the text that explores the frightening extremes in mankind, horror focuses more on the unknown. The Gothic horror genre has changed over time and retains importance because it is the antecedent of the horror genre. Factors such as the definition of the word Gothic, the archetypes of the genre, and its social and historical contexts, have altered considerably as time progressed. The value and popularity given to the gothic horror genre has also varied during the past few centuries. As a result, in order to understand the horror genre’s foundations, it is important to observe the Gothic novel’s modifications. Horror stories have existed for thousands of years, initially in the form of verbal communication. The themes of ruthless enemies and supernatural beings were common themes in myths in an attempt to set morals. However, at present, the true horror literature in its written form mostly aims to entertain. Its forerunner, the Gothic novel, rose in the eighteenth century and was extremely popular until the nineteenth century in England. The meaning of ‘gothic’ varies exceedingly. The word initially refers to German tribes that took part in overthrowing Rome. This word can be perceived as a synonymous for barbarous and dreadful. Similarly, the horror genre also has factors of monstrosity and dread. The “Gothic” style of architecture was famous in the middle ages and has been found on many cathedrals such as Notre Dame. Historians would describe this style as “gothic” to suggest their negative opinion of the architecture, that it was tasteless and dry. Instead of conforming to this perception, people were only led to believe the word to mean “dark and ominous”. Gothic architecture, with the foreboding atmosphere posed around it, correlates with the Gothic novel because it has been a prevalent backdrop to gothic novels in the 19th century, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. These Gothic horror stories were some of the first examples of the horror genre, and are therefore vital for the understanding this field. In its historical context, the gothic horror genre is believed to have emerged as a response to a time of rational thought, the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. This intellectual movement a... ... middle of paper ... ...tablished in the modern horror genre, thus it is practical to observe the archetypes of the Gothic novel as well. This allows the responders to grasp a better understanding of the origins of horror elements. It is therefore evident that the Gothic horror genre has evolved a great deal over the past two hundred years or so. The Gothic novel has affected the horror genre because of the intrigue created with the intense emotions and aspects of human nature. This as a result creates Gothic horror, similar to the horror genre but instead plays on the horrifying attributes of the radical human mind rather than the dread of the unknown and the irregular. In order to become more aware regarding the origins of the horror genre, it is important to understand the progress of the Gothic. It is notable to recognise the meaning of the term, its changing values, historical context and the varying archetypes of the Gothic novel in order to become acquainted with the horror genre’s development. Bibliography: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/gothic/history.html http://www.wwnorton.com/nael/romantic/topic_2/welcome.htm http://cai.ucdavis.edu/waters-sites/gothicnovel/155breport.html
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