The use of gothic properties in popular forms of entertainment has not yet departed. From movies such as Dark City, produced by Alex Proyas, to music stars like Marilyn Manson, the use of gothic tendencies simply appeals to large audiences. In Chain of Fools by Steven Womak, some of these gothic properties also exist. What purpose do these gothic elements serve for the story line and setting? Furthermore what is the relationship with the popular fascination of these gothic characteristics. By identifying these gothic components, one can initiate the understanding of the attraction and function of certain gothic properties.
One of the first essential gothic qualities deals with social order issues. Betty Jameson, the client, is a member of the upper class. Betty and her family live in Belle Mead, one of the most affluent sections of Nashville. This allows Harry Denton the private investigator, and the reader to see "how the other half lives." Harry is a part of the middle class, and is curious about the rich. This common interest in wealth secures a relationship with the audience. The Jameson's two-story Colonial mansion is another gothic feature that works with the concept of social classes. Harry even sees a discrepancy in social placement with the maid, Emily. Describing her to have "spent her life in service
to wealth, walking the several blocks each evening to catch a bus that would carry her home to North Nashville, where she would securely lock her doors and close the shutters before the sun set (5)." This depressing and pessimistic irony among social classes strongly reflects a gothic nature. The mansion and these social observations occur at the beginning of the...
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...rk secrets might be for those who want to be suspended for the sake of disbelief. The dark gothic nature of the mansion and the cinema along with the ever-popular strip joints might entice those seeking isolation and excitement in their escapism. Finally, for the cynic, the social commentary that is offered, does not bring about hope. There are many facets for the explanation of the attraction of certain gothic tendencies. One could be adolescents searching for identity and the perception of isolation. Another might be the middle aged faced with mortality and the obscurity of fate. Perhaps an optimist could simply desire a change of pace. Whatever the reason Gothic tendencies assures no promises and shows no mercy. Dark as it may be, the bite of reality is not too far behind.
Womack, Steven. Chain of Fools. New York: Ballantine, 1996.
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