Horror Versus Terror in Gothic Literature Essay

Horror Versus Terror in Gothic Literature Essay

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Horror Versus Terror in Gothic Literature  

Gothic literature can be described as literature that is used to terrify people by portraying situations that border between reality and unreality. The purpose of Gothic literature is to terrify people, not to horrify them. The definition of horror and terror is often misunderstood, many people think they have the same meaning. Devendra Varma, in the Gothic Flame described the difference between these words as "an awful apprehension and sickening realization." A situation that is horrifying is usually described very distinctly. It usually deals with something that is grotesque and may be so appalling that is it unrealistic. It gives an exact portrayal of what is being described, usually by physical characteristics. Its intention is to appall and scare the reader. A situation that is terrifying is also used to frighten the reader, but it instead suggests something that will happen instead of describing it exactly. It allows the readers imagination to determine the story so that there is a sense of uncertainty. It seems to give a feeling of dread instead of an alarming feeling as with horror. William Faulkner, in "That Evening Sun", uses the distinction between the words terror and horror to portray Jason's, the child, feelings of terror concerning racial differences by creating a situation that would be terrifying to the reader.

The feeling of terror, similar to the terror that Jason feels about race, is exemplified several times throughout the story. Faulkner wants the reader to understand the meaning of terror so that they understand Jason's terror. He especially utilizes sound to terrify the reader.

"One night we waked up, hearing the sound. It was not singing and it was...

... middle of paper ...

... the possibility of being put in their position.

The difference between the words terror and horror is essential to the understanding of "That Evening Sun" as Gothic literature. Varma further explains this distinction by saying, "Terror thus creates an intangible atmosphere of spiritual psychic dread, a certain superstitious shudder at the other world. Horror resorts to a cruder presentation of the macabre: by an exact portrayal of the physically horrible and revolting, against a far more terrible background of spiritual gloom and despair." Faulkner uses the definitions of these words to communicate that people who are prejudice are not scared of people from other backgrounds because of what they look or act like. They are instead terrified of being treated like they are treated. They are also terrified because they are uncertain of what makes them so different.

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