rop Frye discusses it in his essay, refers simply to a special kind of narrative.1 The special nature of this narrative is that it is devised to reflect the beliefs of a particular culture, especially as it uses the concept of the supernatural to explore and explain natural events and the essence of human nature. Frye’s argument is that this mythic narrative is included in almost all of the archetypes used in literature and that these concepts are also found within our most sacred ritual events as we continue to seek the true nature of the order of life. Considering Frye’s discussion of myth, ritual and the natural cycle as it is presented in The Archetypes of Literature, it can be seen that there are several rituals and beliefs that we experience in modern life that we are perhaps not even aware of as being a voluntary affirmation of the natural order of life, such as the beliefs we associate with the concept of darkness. An examination into the traditional values associated with darkness helps to inform the shift in focus seen as the world began to shift into its more modern configuration.
Generally acknowledged to have started with the publication of Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto in 1764, the Gothic genre represents a fundamental shift in thinking from one dominated by ideals and reason to one of imagination and emotion.2 Gothic literature is characterized by its unique way of combining horror and romance to create a completely new genre that, particularly after the advent of Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalytic theory,3 focused more and more on the power of the mind to terrify itself. Common elements found within Gothic literature include terror, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses with a particular type of architecture, castles, darkness, death, madness, secrets and hereditary curses. Characters typically fall into stereotypical personas such as the femmes fatales, flawed heroes, monsters of various types and flawed individuals.