Tuesday, October 11, 2016

31 Days of Gothic Romance | Dracula

Gothic romance and true horror had been close partners at least since The Monk, but Frankenstein and then Dracula solidified the union. To the point where many think of gothic romance as a sub-genre under horror. I actually can't argue against that very well, except to point out that gothic romance in general and horror are setting out to do two, different things.

The intent of horror is to scare you. It's visceral. Gothic romance, on the other hand, wants to make you think. It wants to make you think about some pretty grim stuff, clearly, but the best of it is more about asking questions than just getting a physical reaction out of you. It uses some of the same tools as horror, but for a different purpose. So I think of gothic romance and horror as separate, but overlapping genres.

They're of course heavily overlapping in Bram Stoker's Dracula. With all the blood-sucking and shape-changing into horrible creatures, Dracula is very much trying to scare you. But it's also completely gothic romance with its sinister count who menaces young women - Mina, in particular - against a backdrop of ancient castles and collapsing abbeys.

Mina’s one of my favorite heroes in all of literature, by the way. She’s the only character in Dracula – including Van Helsing – who really knows what’s going on, but the men all try to sideline and ignore her in the name of trying to protect her. And they pay for it.

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