Which of the Stephen King stories listed below best demonstrates the elements of Gothic Literature and why?By Stphen King: Children of the Corn; The Mangler; 1408

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kmcappello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The origin of Gothic literature can be traced back to the publishing of Horace Walpole's novel, The Castle of Otranto, in the 18th century.  This type of literature is characterized by a dark, moody tone and a sense of rising suspense.  The protagonist almost always experiences some type of confinement (as in a dungeon, or haunted house), as well as strange hallucinations which cause him or her to question reality.  These experiences are almost always cast in a vengeful light, and it is often revealed that the protagonist is paying for a past crime.

Of the three Stephen King stories you mentioned in your question, the one that fits the themes of Gothic literature the best is 1408.  In this story, the protagonist is a writer named Mike Enslin, known for writing about haunted places though he doesn't believe in ghosts himself.  He decides to stay the night in the supposedly haunted room 1408 of the Hotel Dolphin in New York City, despite the protests of the hotel manager.

Taking place at night in an old building, the setting of the story is indeed Gothic in nature.  In addition, Enslin finds himself trapped in this room and subject to increasingly violent visions, as in many famous Gothic novels.  Finally, Enslin appears to pay for his skepticism of the supernatural.  Though he escaped the haunted room, he is always frightened, and is no longer able to live a normal life.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gothic stories and novels tend to focus on the environment and how characters' actions interact with that environment. There is usually an isolated protagonist and the antagonist can have supernatural powers which are usually evil. The Gothic also represents fears that are connected with reality such as death, insanity, and torture.

Given the above view of Gothic literature, many of Stephen King's works would be applicable to that definition. "Children of the Corn" also fits the example of the Gothic. A couple, Vicky and Burt, find themselves stranded in a remote Nebraska town after running over a boy whose throat had been previously cut (isolation). As the story progresses, Vicky is murdered. The children are followers of He Who Walks Behind the Rows (devil-like antagonist), and Burt is killed as well, shortly after finding Vicky's body tied to a cross with barbed wire and her eyes ripped out. Evil is definitely on the loose in the small, Gothic town of Gatlin, Nebraska.