“Fear of the Unknown Is a Common Gothic Theme”. Is This True in Your Texts?

Topics: Victorian era, Gothic fiction, Dracula Pages: 8 (3497 words) Published: October 31, 2011
The fear of the unknown is a common Gothic theme that is used to create fear and uncertainty in the responder. This is achieved through the use of a number of different techniques and conventions. The fear of the unknown is expressed through dark, uncertain and mysterious circumstances cause responders to feel vulnerable and fearful. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula the overpowering force of the sublime, the prominence of religion, death and use of darkness accompanied by typical Gothic techniques evoke a fear of the unknown in responders. This common Gothic themes can also be observed in The Road by Cormac McCarthy, in which the fear of the unknown is enhanced by the sublime, the prominence of religion, death and the use of darkness. Furthermore, it is clear that context has played a massive part in composition of each novel, establishing a fear of the unknown that relates to the values of the time in which the novel was published. Both Dracula and The Road are ideal examples of how the fear of the unknown is used to create a sense of insecurity and uncertainty in the responder. The fear of the unknown in The Road is primarily created by the sublime. The sublime is the overpowering sense of the greatness and power of nature, which can be uplifting, awe-inspiring and in the case of The Road: terrifying and unforgiving. The sublime encourages responders to reconsider humanity’s place in the universe and appreciate that nature is all-powerful. By establishing the power of nature, a fear of the unknown is created. An example of this can be seen in the following quotation, “He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable.” Through the use of descriptive language, the land is illustrated bleakly and depressingly, evoking feelings of emptiness and lifelessness. A fear of the unknown is created in this passage because it describes a landscape that is desolate and barren, generating insecure feelings about the environment, an uncertainty about the security of the characters in and the unpredictability of how nature will act in the future. The metaphor “Darkness implacable” further creates a fear of the unknown. By darkness being all around, unstoppable and unforgiving, connotations about the unknown can be easily drawn form this. The environment is absolutely key to the story of The Road because it proves as the main obstacle to the boy and his father, it is an essential part of their relationship with one another and it plays a role in dictate their journey. But by the focusing on the overwhelming presence of nature a results in a ubiquitous fear of unknown. The environment effects the protagonists in so many ways and it is commonplace for them to question their circumstances. By doing so, uncertainty is created and a fear of how the environment will further affect and hinder them on their journey is apparent. By establishing this fear in the novel, responders also feel this fear created by the environment. The negative, dark, bleak connotations that are evoked by descriptions of the environment such as in the opening sentences of the novel, “When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights beyond darkness and the days more gray each one that what had gone before.” By establishing the scene in such a manner, an immediate fear of the unknown is demonstrated and an allusion to future events is made when the grayness of the days is described, “and the days more gray each one that what had gone before”. By saying this McCarthy is implying that the future can almost be predicted and it is symbolic of the situation that the Father and Son are in. The sublime is also a critical part of establishing a fear of the unknown in the novel Dracula. Similarly to McCarthy, Stoker uses the sublime to create fear about uncertain and unpredictable...
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