Understand better what moves you and learn to detect what moves others to put your limits
Not everybody likes watching horror films, series or reading Gothic and Horror novels. However, we all live surrounded by many different types of monsters. Sometimes those monsters are inside our heads. In fact, you might be somebody's nightmarish monster due to your selfish behaviour and actions towards them.
On the positive side, we live in the information era and nobody has any excuses anymore to learn more about themselves and their shadows.
If you live in a developed country, psychology and therapy are within everybody's reach. The only thing you need to have is the will to become a better person.
If you are here it is because you are attracted to the Gothic, and there isn't a better place to talk about the dark side of ourselves.
All those characters you admire, you dress up as for Carnival as we do in some parts of the world, or because you are going to a theme party, or whatever the excuse, are anything but representations of your repressed persona.
In today's entry, I want to analyse the Gothic literary archetype of the Vampire, Frankenstein, Zombie and Witch to see which one you identify with and why by analysing some of their characteristics.
Take this as a very personal analysis based on my life experiences and research. By no means does it pretend to be a guide. It only intends to create awareness.
THE ARCHETYPE OF THE VAMPIRE
Although I am fully aware of the existence of people in our times who lead vampire lives, I am going to try to concentrate as much as possible on the literary vampire to highlight those characteristics that you may find in people arround you, who have no idea about their behaviour towards others.
Some of the main characteristics of the archetype of the vampire are universal. Not only do Dracula or Nosferatu have the characteristics I am going to mention, but also creatures and animalised characters in different folklore.
Luring: Not only Vampires have this ability. Also snakes in the animal kingdom. Have you ever had a friend or a partner that hypnotised you with their words to get what they wanted from you? That's exactly what I am talking about.
Blood or energy suckers: the most prominent characteristic is that of draining the life out of the person. In the case of vampires it's blood, and there's so much more we can say about it. Blood carries your DNA but it can also carry illnesses, or congenital traits such as Thalassemia. As per the energy vampires, you have probably come across that person that makes you feel exhausted every time you meet.
Shape-shifting: the literary vampire, can turn into mist, a bat and even a wolf (I am thinking of Coppola's version here). Obviously, nobody can shift like that in real life. However, in a metaphorical way we can think of that person that might behave very nicely when they want something from you and become a horrible beast if you don't give them what they want from you. They are also known as Narcissists.
THE ARCHETYPE OF FRANKENSTEIN
I am well aware that there's only one Frankenstein and that this may sound like a strange archetype. But how many times have you heard people saying things like, "this is a Frankenstein" to refer to a project that is made up of little pieces put together in desperation? From where I stand, the same happens with some people.
I am talking about those who don't have a well-defined personality and are made up of the little pieces they collect here and there to make up their own identity.
But let's see some of Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster's main characteristics:
The origin of the creation: Frankenstein creates another man artificially. This, in our times, doesn't carry all the moral weight it did at the time Mary Shelley wrote her novel. But there are some things that still make us reflect about our own nature. What happens when we feel we have broken the laws of nature? Some neglect their creation. And what happens to the creation? He/She/It goes through a long process of trying to understand his/her/its life purpose and why he/she/it has been rejected by his/her/its creator. Pretty much we have many people's life story here.
The creature's tantrum: Neglected and dishonoured, this unique man-made creation without name sees his life as a curse and decides to take revenge on his creator by killing everybody he has ever loved. He wants him to experience the same loneliness as he does. Don't forget that the creature is not particularly attractive either and that people are scared of him. The story would have been very different if he had accepted himself first. But this wouldn't have been realistic. How many broken adults seek revenge on others due to their childhood traumas?
THE ARCHETYPE OF THE ZOMBIE
This is probably an obvious archetype that tends to be depicted in herds with other zombies. In our unconscious minds, this monster from horror fiction shares with the Gothic the uncanny thought of maybe turning into one of them. Let's look at the main characteristics:
Physical decomposition: Nobody likes the thought, and even less the sight, of a decomposing walking body. This together with the lack of intelligence or conversation, makes of the zombie an interesting one. Despite the efforts of some modern productions to give the zombie a voice and a likeable story, they still make us very uncomfortable. For many, the zombie is a warning to our doom. Become part of the herd without using your critical thinking and you'll be one of this.
Brains: The English expression "food for thought" sounds ironic here. But think about it. Who wants us brain dead? Who wants us to attack and eat each other so they can keep doing what they want with us? It can simply start with the society you live in and how you fulfill your duty to it. Again, use your critical thinking and others will eat you alive. Your brain looks too tasty to many problematic people out there.
THE ARCHETYPE OF THE WITCH
As a powerful female, the witch became a malevolent figure when ignorance regarding the properties of plants, the natural poisons, unknown illnesses and the innate fear towards evil hit humanity in Medieval Times in Europe and America. But the Gothic archetype of the witch is much more than that.
Magic: My mother always calls the kitchen her lab. And that's because as well as cooking, humans like experimenting with ingredients. Witches or women with broad knowledge about plants around them sometimes got things wrong. The only way to know about a deadly poison is by seeing an animal or a person dying from it. And of course, I am well aware that people still poison people to get rid of others. However, this archetype is that of women and men, who have special knowledge of the world around them, but also wisdom to see life from a holistic point of view. That's why they listen to all the external and internal messages.
Abilities to predict the future: During the dark times of humanity, being able to see the future, to have premonitory dreams, read tarot cards and connect with the deceased was scary and considered black magic. And to a point, it still is. Women and men were killed in the name of God, for their abilities and I'm sure some of them used their skills for harming others. But not everybody is moved by the same reasons. Remember the two witches in Sleepy Hollow? We now call them intuitive, people with a sixth sense or highly sensible. Maybe some are schizophrenics, whereas others might just be deeply connected within themselves.
Bad witches can look lovely and charming, whereas the good ones tend to be neglected by society, although it's dangerous to generalise. Remember the bad witch in Sleepy Hollow?
HOW TO WORK WITH THESE ARCHETYPES IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OR THE ONE INFLICTING PAIN ON OTHERS
We are all the good guys in our own stories and we can never be a hundred per cent sure at what point we might be hurting someone we care about.
In classic horror books and films this is pretty clear. There are certain characteristics, certain behaviours that give us all the clues. But when the Gothic gets in the way and tells us to look at the same story from a different angle, we might be surprised at how wrong we might have been.
If you are or have been the victim of one of the archetypes mentioned above, then analyse all the possible ways in which you feel the other person is taking advantage of you and close the doors as soon as you can, even if to do so means you might need some professional help. Our mental state can suffer when exposed for years to certain attitudes and behaviours.
If you have identified as being the one inflicting pain on others, it's time you start finding ways of facing your shadows. Ask yourself why you feel negative feelings against others, why you want to use other people, why the anger, what do you want from them or/and what are your frustrations. You can ask yourself these and similar questions to become a better person and lead a happier life.
USE THE GOTHIC TO LEARN TO SOCIALISE WITH OTHERS
When we read or watch a programme that we like, we come across many examples of situations and people that are similar to the situations and people in our lives, even ourselves. Despite the extreme and fictional contexts and characters, you can find many dialogues and situations that can help you with your own issues.
One of the TV shows that does this very well is Supernatural . The intense and toxic bond and relationship between the main characters, the Winchester brothers, is the main threat over fifteen seasons.
Their problems always gravitate around the topic of family bonds, fidelity, honesty and love. And in their imperfection and extreme feelings and actions we all feel there's a call for us.
They are liminal in many ways and that contributes to help us in our own internal processes as audience and fans.
Literary monsters can reflect the real monsters inside each of us.
Being honest about yourself and identify which behaviours can harm others is a step towards creating awareness and start working on your shadow.
Embracing your abilities to detect when something is off, is not witchery. It can be a wise move that may save you from future mental issues.
Use your passion for the Gothic to learn more about others and yourself to lead a happier life.
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Until next week, stay Gothic my friend!
Thanks for reading,