Recently I have become interested in a new kind of stories. These stories are Gothic stories. Stories like this include Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
To say these stories are influential is an understatement. Many of them are the most iconic stories of all time, and made my favourite fantasy creature (the vampire) an icon of popular culture. There were also gothic horror movies made in the 50’s with new additions to the monster mix, including the werewolf and the mummy, whose appearances turned them into iconic foes. And while I promised I wouldn’t mention Doctor Who, I have to mention the period of the show when the stories became influenced by the Gothic genre (Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, Image of the Fendahl, State of Decay, and more recent stories like Mummy on the Orient Express all take influence from the Gothic genre).
So why is this genre so iconic and influential? I think it is because of the characters. Everyone knows Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster (he is not called Frankenstein, that’s his creator) and Dr Jekyll. These characters are great because they were so different from anything at the time and because they still work now. The movie versions of these characters also help their popularity (although Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t big and green with a bolt through his head, he was more human like in the book and in the recent theatre version where he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which I saw last October).
Another reason why I personally like this genre of storytelling is the sheer variety of them. Vampires, split personality, artifical people- they truly feel unique. They also tackle themes which at the time they were written (19th century) were extremely controversial, like the idea of playing with God in Frankenstein and the fear of the unknown in Dracula.
And that is why I like Gothic stories, not just because they are imaginative and unique, but because they are ahead of their time. I got many Gothic stories for Christmas and I’ve enjoyed reading them. It’s great to see what stories were like in the past.