Woo, have I missed you, everyone! How have you been?
Realism, Naturalism and the dark corners of our psyche. Things that scare us, make us cringe, mentally and emotionally scar us. They are as much a part of our everyday lives as everything else. And they inspire us, in a weird way. Themes such as domestic violence, sexual violence, murder, all have an everlasting, nasty effect on our minds. Yet, they possess a certain allure, they inspire stories. Grotesque, gruesome stories. What is their purpose?
For one thing, I believe that through the grotesque and the horrific, we are capable of cleansing ourselves. The ‘katharsis’ of the Ancient Greek drama meant that, after being subjected to the tormenting scenes before them, the audience would be relieved of negative emotions. This, of course, leads us to the conclusion that there is always some form of justice in these stories. ‘Good triumphs over evil’, and so on. But, as we know, this ‘justice’ is not always present. What is the meaning of those tales, that never end well, then?
I think that all those ‘dark’ themes can function as a reflection of ourselves. A mirror placed in front of each and everyone of us, forcing us to look at the darkest confines of our souls. How far would we go for revenge? What would we do if we had absolute power over others? We see characters suffering, and nothing is done to the perpretrators. No prison time, no ‘justly death’, nothing. What do we, the audience/readers, gain from all the bleak endings?
We gain questions. Questions about mankind, about ourselves. You see, what we choose to do in any given situation, is what reveals our true colors. We get to talk with our darker self, let them explain some things we cannot. That is, in the end, the function of Realism and its sinister cousin’s, Naturalism. Can we contain the beast within? That’s the best question those dark stories have to offer us.