The Gothic Elements in Chain of Fools
The use of gothic properties in popular forms of entertainment has not yet departed. From movies such as Dark City, produced by Alex Proyas, to music stars like Marilyn Manson, the use of gothic tendencies simply appeals to large audiences. In Chain of Fools by Steven Womak, some of these gothic properties also exist. What purpose do these gothic elements serve for the story line and setting? Furthermore what is the relationship with the popular fascination of these gothic characteristics. By identifying these gothic components, one can initiate the understanding of the attraction and function of certain gothic properties.
One of the first essential gothic qualities deals with social order issues. Betty Jameson, the client, is a member of the upper class. Betty and her family live in Belle Mead, one of the most affluent sections of Nashville. This allows Harry Denton the private investigator, and the reader to see "how the other half lives." Harry is a part of the middle class, and is curious about the rich. This common interest in wealth secures a relationship with the audience. The Jameson's two-story Colonial mansion is another gothic feature that works with the concept of social classes. Harry even sees a discrepancy in social placement with the maid, Emily. Describing her to have "spent her life in service
to wealth, walking the several blocks each evening to catch a bus that would carry her home to North Nashville, where she would securely lock her doors and close the shutters before the sun set (5)." This depressing and pessimistic irony among social classes strongly reflects a gothic nature. The mansion and these social observations occur at the beginning of the novel, aiding the gothic setting of the plot as well.
The feeling of darkness or the absence of light is another gothic element.
At the start of the second chapter while again, the tone of the novel is still being established, Harry goes to a strip club in search of a lead on how or where to find Stacey Jameson, Betty's missing daughter. Harry goes into a dark and smoky burlesque of naked women and neon lights. The music and the lights shock the senses and communication is difficult. The mansion is also described and eerie and dead. The functions of suspense and tension work in harmony with the melancholy mansion and shocking nightclubs. The cinema where Harry attempts to save Stacey is dark and dank. Harry describes the decrepit constitution of the cinema as a crypt, "with walls muted by decades worth of gray dust. (283)" Darkness questions 'what else could be out there?' Furthermore this darkness establishes a sense of isolation or alienation from a secure environment.
Violence, rape and other grotesque actions are...