The Horror Genre Essay Example
Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Two well-known horror stories are "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." In "The Monkey's Paw," A person named Sergeant Major Morris gives the Whites a monkey's paw which has the power to grant three wishes. But little do they know that for every wish that they make, a horrible thing happens to them. In the "Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator who claims that he is not a madman is disturbed by an old man's eye which he calls "The Vulture eye." He then murders the old man and hides him on the floor. But after he does that, he hears a terrible sound which only the narrator can hear, and then he confesses that he murdered the old man to the police inside of his house. Edgar Allen Poe and W.W. Jacobs successfully weaves elements of suspense, character, and setting throughout their stories to grab the readers’ attention and create the perfect thrill of horror.
According to the literary criticism “What is the Horror Genre?” by Sharon A. Russel, suspense is, "The tension we feel when a character goes into the attic, down into the basement, or just into the abandoned house"(126). For example, in the "Tell-Tale Heart," the author says, "I had my head in and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out - "Who's there?""(91). In this quote, the narrator accidentally awakens the old man which he didn't mean to and the old man springs up in bed saying, "who's there." This creates suspense because the narrator accidentally awakening the old man which he did not mean to, and the old man springing up in bed creates an atmosphere of suspense as you'll feel that the old man is going to discover what the narrator has been up to. In addition, in "The Monkey's Paw" the author says, ""I won't," said his friend doggedly. "I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don't blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again like a sensible man.""(108). In this quote, Sergeant Major Morris is telling the Whites that the Monkey's Paw is dangerous and to let it burn in the fireplace. This evidence creates suspense because Sergeant Major Morris is saying that the Monkey's Paw is evil and that it will ruin your life. This creates an atmosphere of suspense. To sum it up, the use of suspense by the authors helps intensify the story. It also drives the story along because the suspense makes the reader want to read more.
Just like suspense, characters are vital to a horror story because of the suspense they give. As said in "What is the Horror Genre?", "We know that characters involved in the world of horror always meet something awful when they go where they shouldn't"(126). First, in the "Tell-Tale Heart", the author says, "I heard all things in heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then am I mad?"(89). This quote is saying that the narrator can hear stuff from heaven and hell and is asking the reader how he's mad if he can do that. This evidence shows that the character, the narrator, claims to not be mad even though he said he can hear heaven and hell which signals that he is mad. Now we know what the narrator is, and now we want to know what he is going to do next. Second, In the "Monkey's Paw", W.W. Jacobs said," He began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples"(106). This quote is saying that Sergeant Major Morris knows about distant lands and tells stories about them to the Whites. This evidence shows that Sergeant Major Morris is a person who goes to foreign lands a lot and knows a great deal about the world. He also seems to be an excellent storyteller. This character supports the topic sentence because Sergeant Major Morris was the one who gave the Whites the Monkey's Paw with a warning. Therefore, he knows the most about it and knows what sinister things it can do. Lastly, the characters in a horror story are an integral part to the plot, as they help move the story forward. These characters also grab the reader's attention by helping to create a lot of suspense. Overall, characters create a great thrill of horror.
Setting is also an integral part of a horror story. As said in "What is the Horror Genre?" about setting, "But setting is often considered a part of the horror genre. If the genre has traditional monsters, it also has traditional settings. Only authors who want to challenge the tradition place events in bright, beautiful parks. We expect a connection between the setting and the events in this genre"(125). For instance, in the "Tell-Tale Heart'', the author says, "His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were closed fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily"(90). This quote is saying that the old man's room is dark and secure as he fastened the doors so that robbers can't get in. This evidence shows that the setting to this story is mainly in the old man's room which is described as dark. This is a good horror story setting because if any room is dark, a lot of bad stuff can happen in that room. Furthermore, in the "Monkey's Paw, the author says in the story, "That's the worst of living so far out," bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathways a bog, and the road's a torrent"(106). This quote is saying that the Whites are living in a rural area of England which means that they are isolated. Mr. White also complains about the roads in the area that they live in. This evidence shows us that the Whites are isolated from society. Add that to the fact that it's raining outside, and you get yourself a perfect horror setting. The setting of this story tells us that something bad is going to happen, which adds to the suspense. As has been noted, the setting is just as crucial to a horror plot than any other factor. The setting creates a lot of suspense and drives the plot forward. Without a good horror setting, there will be no good horror story.
In conclusion, the authors of both the "Monkey's Paw" and the "Tell-Tale Heart" masterfully incorporated aspects of suspense, character, and setting throughout their stories to create the perfect horror story. Sharon A. Russel once defined suspense in her literary criticism "What is the Horror Genre?". She said that suspense was, "The tension we feel when a character goes into the attic, down into the basement, or just into the abandoned house"(126). Character is another important part of a horror story. As said in "What is the Horror Genre?", "We know that characters involved in the world of horror always meet something awful when they go where they shouldn't"(126). Finally, the setting of a horror story adds loads of suspense and thrill to the horror story. As said in "What is the Horror Genre?" about setting, "But setting is often considered a part of the horror genre. If the genre has traditional monsters, it also has traditional settings. Only authors who want to challenge the tradition place events in bright, beautiful parks. We expect a connection between the setting and the events in this genre"(125). My personal experience with these stories was pure terror and fun. "The Monkey's Paw" and the "Tell-Tale Heart" are well-organized and thrilling stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. As a reader, I enjoyed these stories because of the amount of suspense in them.