Which Is the Most Successful Gothic Horror Short Story? Comparing the Red Room and the Monkey's Paw

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Which is the most successful Gothic Horror short story?
Comparing the Red Room and the Monkey’s paw

Gothic horror (Gothic Fiction) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, to thrill and scare the reader. The Red Room, by H.G Wells and The Monkey’s Paw by W.W Jacobs are both good examples of Gothic Horror.

Both stories deal with the theme of the supernatural – the ‘ghost’ and the wish granting paw. Another, less obvious theme is the nature of humans, the main character in The Red Room is very confident in the face of the wisdom of the elderly residents of the castle. Even in the opening sentence the man seems to simultaneously acknowledge and dispel the fear of the paranormal in the Castle by saying “it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me.” He is showing off his confidence, which will slowly diminish on his journey to the red room, his actual stay in it and as the tension builds. This is confidence and arrogance is ironic as he will end up defeated by this so called ‘ghost’. In The Monkey’s Paw, the family, particularly Herbert is also very cocky – “might drop on his head from the sky” yet again this is also ironic as the in order to get the money Herbert gets mutilated and dies.

The setting of each story is a very important way of adding to the tension. If the story was set in a nice, happy cottage, in the middle of a suburb, on a warm summer’s day there is nothing scary about it. If it is set in an old rotting house in the middle of nowhere, which is engulfed in darkness, there is an aspect of fright and scariness. In both The Red Room and The Monkey’s Paw there is this aspect of darkness, isolation with the stories setting – the isolated, dark and cold Lorraine castle and the dark, isolated house. The...
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