The Gothic Villain

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Gothic fiction, The Fall of the House of Usher Pages: 3 (927 words) Published: August 21, 2010
The Gothic Villain

Who is the Gothic Villain? Is he a villain/hero? Is he a dangerous lover? The villain is usually dark and handsome, though he might have some tell-tell sign that warns he is wicked. The villains ranged from dark priests to mysterious bandits. Some start out as heroes but turn into villains. The Gothic villain has several identifying characteristics. They are shifty, cunning and can mold their behavior to match the need of the circumstance. Villains will utilize intimidation, deception, and even flattery to attain their objective. So, who is the villain-hero? This villain may start out at the beginning of the story as a hero, or he may possess heroic characteristics, such as charisma, or he may have a sympathetic past, something that makes this character sympathetic to the reader—a characteristic that keeps this person from being pure evil.

The villain-hero could be a satanic-hero. This is a villain-hero who has conducted immoral activities. He may justify his actions. Look at some of the villain-heroes we have in the fiction of today—vampires, for instance, are the quintessential satanic hero of today’s literature.

It would be remiss not to mention the Promethean Hero-villain. “This is a villain-hero who has done good [deeds] but only by performing an overreaching or rebellious act” (Heckmondwike). Prometheus, from ancient Greek mythology, saved mankind but only after stealing fire from heaven and ignoring Zeus' order by giving it to mankind (Webster). “Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is tellingly subtitled the "Modern Prometheus", suggesting that Frankenstein is this kind of hero” (Heckmondwike). The Byronic Hero is a “later variation of the ‘antithetically mixed’ Villain-Hero. Aristocratic, suave, moody, handsome, solitary, secretive, brilliant, cynical, sexually intriguing, and nursing a secret wound, he is renowned because of his fatal attraction for female characters. This darkly attractive and very conflicted male...

Bibliography: Poe-A, Edgar Allen. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. New York: Doubleday, 1950. Print.
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