Titel: Gothic Motifs in Stephen King's Work With Special Regard to Salem's Lot and The Shining
Autoren/Herausgeber: Judith Schwickart
Ausgabe: 1., Auflage
Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Trier, course: Der englische Schauerroman, 13 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Stephen King is one of the most published contemporary authors. He has written more than 50 novels and movie scripts, some of them under the pseudonym of Richard Bachmann. His stories deal with the supernatural, with aliens or the abysses of the human mind. Due to his topics, his books are often regarded as trivial literature by many of his readers and also by people who have never read a single one of his books and who only judge him by his name. But what these critics seem to miss is the fact that Stephen King has adapted many themes and motifs from highly regarded authors of classic Gothic fiction, such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Bram Stoker, to mention just a few.
In each of Stephen King’s books, the reader can identify traces of classic Gothic fiction, although the topics and settings are normally adapted to modern times.
Stephen King says of himself that ‘most of my [Stephen King’s] books have been derivative to some extent…’ (Bloom, p.96), which is not surprising regarding his educational background: After studying English at the University of Maine, Stephen King worked as a high school teacher, although he did not get too much teaching practice due to the commercial success of his books. Therefore, it is not very surprising that Stephen King uses the sources he has become acquainted with during his studies. He uses the motifs of Gothic novels in different ways and in many of his books. In fact, he says that ‘what I [Stephen King] try to do…is to pour new wine from old bottles’ (Bloom, p.96).
What I would like to do in this term paper is to show some of the Gothic motifs Stephen King uses in his books and in what way he uses them. For this purpose, I have chosen two novels from Stephen King’s earlier working period: Salem’s Lot and The Shining. But before actually beginning the comparison between Stephen King’s books and classic Gothic novels I will give an overview over the characteristic features of Gothic writing in order to enable the reader to identify the tradition Stephen King’s writing stands in.