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Using Gothic Characteristics to Portray the Theme of Knowledge

Powerful Essays
Using Gothic Characteristics to Portray the Theme of Knowledge in American Gargoyles, Johnny Mnemonic, Frankenstein, Good Country People, and Cyberpunk

Gothic literature has been interpreted, and even criticized by many people as just being scary stories. They feel the author's only purpose for using gloomy settings and grotesque characters is to horrify the reader. This however is rarely true of Gothic literature, instead an author will use these characteristics to portray a deeper purpose rather than to just scare the reader. This is true of all genres of gothic literature including classical, southern, and cyber literature. One theme that has been prevalent throughout gothic history is that of knowledge. Several authors have used gothic tendencies to convey the idea that too much knowledge can be dangerous. They use these characteristics to warn the reader that knowledge is not always good.

Classical gothic literature, developed in the late eighteenth century, was most likely first concepted by Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. Dark, dreary settings and frightening monsters often characterize the style of this category of literature. Mary Shelley, a classical gothic writer, has used these characteristics in her novel Frankenstein. In her novel Victor Frankenstein composes a creature that has all the potentialities of a child because it knows nothing. But this creature is far from looking anything like a child. The monster, created from different body parts, is grotesque, he has yellow skin that barely covers his muscles, long black hair and is very large. However, just as a child, he begins to learn, through experiences and especially by reading several books. This new knowledge he has learned has a harmful ...

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... situations to warn or horrify the reader about a deeper theme. The terror felt by the reader as he/she reads the story mimics the terror another character is feeling in dealing with this hidden theme. Authors often use these tendencies to portray their ideas on current social conditions in order to warn the reader.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Flannery O'Connor. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Di Renzo, Anthony. American Gargoyles. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Gibson, William. "Johnny Mnemonic." 5 April 2000 .

Levine, George. The Endurance of Frankenstein. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979.

O'Connor, Flannery. "Good Country People." 5 Apr. 2000 .

Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1994.

The Cyberpunk Project. Christian Kirtchev. 3 Apr. 2000. 10 Apr. 2000 .
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