What We’re Reading: All Hallow’s Eve Edition
Halloween is just around the corner, and everyone is in the mood for a little spooky entertainment. Here are three classic spooky pieces of literature (plus a few bonuses) to raise some goosebumps and prep you for All Hallow’s Eve.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Started as a contest for who could write the best horror story between Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori, this novel is a clear choice for Halloween. Also considered one of the first science fiction novels, the plot follows Victor Frankenstein’s blindly furied quest for the limits of science and creation. Frankenstein’s frightful abandonment of his eight-foot-tall, yellow eyed creation sends the monster off into a harsh world alone. The murders of Frankenstein’s loved ones start cropping up, the feelings of desperation and loss are palpable, and ultimately, it’s a race to the death between creator and creation. Who is more at fault: Frankenstein for abandoning his creation, or the monster, for his murderous vengeance? Does upbringing have an effect on morals? Frankenstein was raised in a stable, loving family environment, but still pushed the limits of science, and couldn’t stand up to his consequences, while the monster was raised on his own, learning the painful way of survival. There is no clear right answer, and it makes the characters all the more morally murky.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: An eerie story about dissociative identity disorder and good vs. evil, the novel careens down that familiar path of self-destruction as Dr. Jekyll becomes overtaken by an evil, murderous, manipulative, and morally ungrounded Mr. Hyde. You may find your teeth clenching as mine do, as Jekyll’s attempts to control his conversion to and back from Hyde become more and more difficult, until he secludes himself, and eventually, gives himself over to the wild whims of Hyde. A separation of good and evil: is it worth it? Is Dr. Jekyll really as good as we’re led to believe, if he keeps indulging Hyde until he loses control?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Wilde’s only novel, this story starts with the portrait painting of Dorian Gray, a young, narcissistic man. A triad of infatuation of beauty between Gray, his painter Basil Hallward, and Lord Henry Wotton spurs this creepy story on its hedonistic course. Convinced that beauty is the only thing in life to be valued, Gray sells his soul to ensure that his body will never age, and instead, his portrait will. He ravages life by breaking hearts and committing murder, blackmail, and more; yet while his face never shows a sign of his evil doing, his portrait becomes grotesque, bearing the weight of his actions. Is beauty evil? If outward appearances never change, does it make it easier to commit crimes?
Honorable mentions: The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, as well as The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (which I mentioned in a previous What We’re Reading post). I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention these three delightfully spine-chilling short stories.
What stories, novels, or poems bring out the Halloween spirit for you?