In which ways are the conventions of Gothic fiction shown in Mary Shelley ‘Frankenstein’ and Fredrick Cowles ‘The Vampire Of Kaldenstein’? Gothic fiction is just one of many genres in literacy. For a piece of writing to be classified as gothic fiction it must incorporate some of the conventions and styles that build up particular emotions and ambience for the reader. These conventions can be rendered into two very different opinions; the prevailing atmosphere consisting of night time adventures with full moons in rainy skies carrying flocks of bats, exaggerated psychopaths and pseudo-gothic-settings can be interpreted as cathartic and a light release to the tension created by the intricate plots.
Conversely when this style of writing was first introduced in the Victorian era, it was a popular form of evening entertainment. To tell stories with the intention to frighten and shock was a new concept that evolved into a whole new approach on writing. The fear was drawn from the authors’ descriptions of far away places where civilisation was scarce and withering characters venture into the unknown and supernatural. These feelings are portrayed using setting, characters and the paranormal of which Mary Shelley and Fredrick Cowles develop in their own way. The characters present in gothic fiction texts play a vital role in the effect on the reader. They put reality in the surreal setting, to find a content young man in the middle of a castle in a remote village of Germany with a vampire is not a everyday experience and so the thought that you could be that ordinary man, is frightful.
One of the most significant characteristics of the narrator of ‘The Vampire Of Kaldenstein’ and Victor Frankenstein is their choice to be alone. Victor’s desire for knowledge drives him to separate from family to university and the narrator ‘ not a particularly sociable person’ (part 1) decides to trek through a foreign country, alone. This solidarity gives great opportunity for misjudgement and confusion as no second opinion or loving support is available.
The narrator misunderstands his instructions and by that evening ‘was hopelessly lost’ (part 1). Victor becomes blind by science and the continuous tension he builds on himself not only leads to his illness but the fact that he had little contact with family and few friends in his new home means there was no one to protect him from potential dangers. When the characters are reunited with those familiar to them it seems life can fall back into happy times, Victor dreams of joining his loved ones in heaven and hangs on to the hope that they are in a better place, once the ordeal is over in Kaldenstein the narrator simply returns home and mentions nothing of the real cause of delay to his friend, perhaps too casual to not think something is strange about this man.
The other vital point that Gothic fiction characters convey is disturbed minds; this can also be linked with insomnia and illness. Both of our characters suffer loss of sleep, and the narrator explains how ‘a dish of roast pork and two glasses of lager beer completed the cure’ (part 1) the key word being ‘cure’ as if he was suffering an illness. Victor is often deprived of sleep and is more than once brought down by serious illness.
Illness can also cover the well being of the mind; as soon as the monster is alive Victor has regretted pursuing his goal to re-create life and is tormented for the rest of his life. This depression mounts throughout the book and knowing that it was his fault that all of the people have suffered because of his mistake he is driven to insanity ‘The spirits of the past seemed to flit around and to cast a shadow which was felt and not seen’ (chap.24). This convention can also be seen in The Vampire Of Kaldenstein where the persistence of the narrator to meet the Count after constant warnings from local villagers is beyond adventurous and he begins to crave to know the truth ‘there is a streak of obstinacy in my make-up’ (part3).
The most horrifying and shocking part of a Gothic fiction novel is often the appearance of the monster or super-natural being in the story. The descriptions of the monster can be quite upsetting, ‘his yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath’ (chap 5). From watching the film entitled ‘Frankenstein’ although the imagination is not allowed to run so freely the horror of reality is specifically emphasised. How they are repelled from society because of their hideousness makes you wonder if you would actually act that way if in the same situation. The vampire is excluded from the village with only the servant as company, and Frankenstein’s monster runs away to the peace of the countryside to escape being confronted by the masses in the towns.