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Short Stories in the Gothic Horror Tradition Essay

The genre of short stories in the nineteenth century began to attract a wider audience all over the world. A very important factor in the growing popularity of short stories was the vast interest in magazines and journals. The market in short stories was also expanding due to the easy money available to young writers. Through the nineteenth century there was significant improvement in the printing technology which gave more variety to magazines. The nineteenth century was a time without television or radios, which meant that reading out loud was a good form of entertainment.

Gothic horror is a story, which usually contains murders and torture in many forms such as supernatural, mental or physical. A supernatural example would be like the film Chukkie, that is where two dolls roam around Los Angeles killing people. Much gothic horror came in the nineteenth century written by Bram Stoker, one of his most famous novels was Dracula. Gothic horror is also a form of statues, which represent a more terrifying look in a very distinctive style. I will be comparing two stories The Kit-Bag and The Judges House. The author of the horrifying tale of The Judges House was the magnificent Bram Stoker and the author of The Kit-Bag was Algeron Blackwood.

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The Judges House is about a student, Malcolm Malcomson, wanting to get away from the pressures of every day life. While Malcolm was wandering about looking for accommodation, he finds this peculiar looking house with the cleaner working inside. After renting the strange house he got down to studying. When Malcomson had been there for a couple of days, he spotted a huge rat in the corner of the room as he was looking at some strange paintings. The next day he asked Mrs Witham, the cleaner, to dust the huge paintings on the wall as dust and grime obscured them.

Malcomson gets back from another hard day of studying and discovers the picture behind the grime. It is a judge sitting in a huge chair, with a weird looking rope behind him. Later that night a huge rat with baleful eyes enters the room and sits on the huge chair with a rope behind it. Malcomson thought this was familiar. He looked at the painting and realised that it was the judge’s chair and that he was standing in the room the judge was sat in. He also noticed the judge was no longer in the painting.

Malcomson slowly turned round and there on the great high-backed carved oak chair was the judge wearing his robes of scarlet and ermine, with his baleful eyes glaring vindictively. The judge then stood right up and pulled down the rope from the alarm bell and walked past Malcomson as if tempting him to do something. Mrs Witham and village people broke into the judge’s house and at the end of the rope of the great alarm bell hung the body of the young student, Malcomson, and on the face of the judge in the painting was a malignant smile.

The Kit-Bag is about a man called Johnson who has just dealt with a major murder inquiry. Johnson, a young man of about twenty-six, had a delicate face like a girls. As he was leaving the office, after hard day’s worked, he turned and said to his employer “I knew there was something to ask you, would you mind if I could use one of your kit-bags?” His boss replied “Of course, I’ll send Harry over with it”

Once Johnson had the Kit-Bag, he packed it straight away as he was going on holiday the very next day. While he was packing, he heard loud footsteps on the stairs below him. He thought it must be Mrs. Monk with his post, but the footsteps ceased. Ten minutes passed and the footsteps were getting louder and closer. Johnson decided to check what was going on. While he was there, he saw a strange figure dash into his room. Johnson could not believe what had just happened.

When he was walking back into his room, the Kit-Bag made a sudden move for the door and John Turk, the murderer appeared. Johnson’s heart was pounding. John Turk was looking at Johnson as if wanted something from him .He said, “It’s my bag and I want it now”. Johnson then collapsed and lay unconscious for a long time. After he had woken up, Mrs. Monk came into his room. She told him that someone was down stairs and needed to see him before he left. It was Henry with a nice clean Kit-Bag. He told Johnson that he gave him the wrong Kit-Bag. Henry had given him the bag from the murder scene and he told him the news that John Turk had killed himself last night in his cell at ten o’clock.

Bram Stoker’s writing involves a lot of Gothicism. He wrote many novels and short stories and amongst them The Judges House. Already two paragraphs into the story Bram Stoker is doing what he does best, being gothic, it says “it was an old rambling, heavy built house of the Jacobean style, with heavy gables and windows, unusually small, and over higher than was customary in such houses, and was surrounded with a high brick wall massively built,’ so already we can imagine that there is this huge eighteenth century house that hasn’t been touched for decades and is suitable for some strange going’s on.

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