Society's Obsession with the Dark Side

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Taylor Larsen
6th period
December 20, 2012
Society’s Curiosity of the Unknown

Whenever I am walking home alone, I am always paranoid that something is going to happen to me. I start to think about all of the horrible possibilities that could occur and I always feel as if I am being followed or watched. Even walking in an empty parking lot to my car scares me because I have a fear of being abducted. I, along with most people, was raised to be cautious of things like that. I was taught to always think of the worst thing that can happen, to be safe and to prevent the worst from happening. I am scared of death because I do not know what will happen after that. American’s obsession with the dark side comes from the curiosity of death. This obsession came from the first death of a human being. That was when curiosity about death and the afterlife originated. People do not know what happens after death and we are interested to find out more. Americans today come across the dark side every day whether they realize it or not. Inquisitiveness about the dark side appears in books, movies, and television shows. The piece “Zombies: why are we so obsessed?” by Eric G. Wilson, refers to all of the zombie and vampire themed books, movies, and television shows in today’s society. “True Blood,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Twilight” are some very well-known examples he uses to capture our attention and also to answer the question why we are so obsessed with death. “Maybe our obsession with zombies is a reflection of our fear of a pandemic virus that will transform us into flesh-starved corpses. Or perhaps we are afraid of a global financial collapse that would result in cannibalistic hordes haunting burned-out cities,” (1) wrote Wilson. The author of this article does not even know the answer, but that is precisely the point, the answer to the afterlife will forever remain unknown. The answer to our obsession is simply mere curiosity about death and the afterlife. These shows are produced to entertain and meant to provide us some sort of relief to the lingering questions we ask ourselves every day, even though the answers are not concrete, whatsoever. Finding answers to these questions is why there are so many artistic pieces centered around the dark side which began the gothic era, circa mid 12th century.

Edgar Allen Poe is one of the first American authors of gothic literature. The reason Poe’s writing is so intriguing is because it relates to society’s curiosity or apprehension of death. His writing is so interesting because any revulsion the reader has about death or the afterlife is diluted because they are experiencing death through someone else’s eyes and not their own. There is nothing more intriguing than the unknown of the afterlife. There seems to be some sort of an addiction to receiving any knowledge or vindications about death or the afterlife. We can get these answers from reading gothic literature such as this by Poe. Poe's writing is popular because of how it relates to our fear of the unknown. Americans are often obsessed with the dark side of human nature which is a reflection of this fear. The Masque of the Red Death is one of the many famous pieces of gothic literature written by Poe. The short story takes place in Europe around the time of the 14th century where an epidemic of the Red Death, has killed off half of the population. Prince Prospero shut himself away in his castellated abbey with seven irregular rooms representing the seven stages of life. The most eastern room was light blue, emphasizing life and the subsequent rooms ranged from purple, green, orange, white, violet, and finally, the most western room was black. The black room symbolizes the gothic fear of the end of life. The sun rises in the blue east room, representing the beginning of the day and the beginning of life, and the sun sets in the black west room, signifying the end of the day or end of life. Prospero decides to invite the...
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