Perhaps one of the most dramatic genres of literature, the gothic genre, already set in unpredictable and unsettling times of revolution ingeniously set the stage for such horror stories as were never before seen by modern society. Artists like Bram Stoker, who was bedridden until the age of seven, and Mary Shelley, whose mother died giving birth flourished, and produced literary pieces that, in the midst of revolution, started their own revolution.
Bram Stoker, born in 1847, was a sickly child, and was bedridden until the age of seven. Naturally, due to his being bedridden for such a long period of time, Stoker developed a sense of drama and literature at a young age, and wrote stories all through his life. However, as if to make up for his childhood, Stoker became a superior athlete, and after university, he went on to work in civil service. During his civil work, Stoker continued to write, and his first story, “The Crystal Cup”, was published in 1872. One of Stoker’s many short stories, “Dracula’s Guest”, is an example of the gothic brilliance that Stoker brought to dark times. Stoker used the elements of fiction perceptively to his advantage, and created a gothic masterpiece.
Stoker’s protagonist, an innocent and adventurous Englishman, is spending “Walpurgis Night” (the mythical night of the devil) in Germany. Interestingly, all is not as it seems, as the first dialogue from the protagonist is the imploring question, “Tell me Johann, what is tonight?”, implying that the adventurous Englishman is more ignorant than innocent and foreshadowing his later vulnerability. In addition, the weather and development of increasingly suspicious landmarks become gradually more threatening throughout the story. Stoker uses setting in the story to increase dramatic irony, and in doing so, increases the protagonist’s defenselessness in the end of the story. The setting in this story creates horror and suspense by forcing the reader to watch, in forced silence, the protagonist’s heavily foreshadowed encounter with death.
Mary Shelley was born in 1797 to the philosophical author, William Godwin. Her mother died giving birth, and Shelley was raised by a remote father and a step-mother who hated her. Her depressive step-sister committed suicide, and Shelley did not have much in common with her step-brother or half-brother, and so she escaped into books at a young age. At the age of sixteen, Mary eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and only one of their four children survived infancy. It is apparent that Shelley struggled desperately with all of the deaths around her, and it is not unexpected that she would deal with such ideas as immortality in her stories.