Chapter 7 of Summer of the Netherfield Witch, and the role of comedy in horror

One wouldn’t think comedy and horror go well together. Yet they do. It’s a matter of balance and perspective. If a book or movie just keeps piling horror on top of horror, they begin to pall after a while. Worse, it becomes harder and harder to have sympathy for the victims because it’s hard to relate to people who are defined by what is done to them, as opposed to what they do. This is probably the secret behind why slasher film series gradually take on the perspective of the killer: he/she/it is about the only person showing any character.

Comedy offsets horror. It gives us a chance to catch our breaths and relieve our nerves. It gives the people in the story a chance to act human. It also helps us keep on caring about them as they go into the next horror.

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, M.D, D. Ph., D. Litt., etc., if you please . . . or at least Peter Cushing taking on the role in one of Hammer's Dracula films

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, M.D, D. Ph., D. Litt., etc., if you please . . . or at least Peter Cushing taking on the role in one of Hammer’s Dracula films

And comedy offers a catharsis. There’s an episode in Dracula where Van Helsing makes a joke which at least one of the other men would consider in very bad taste, and then breaks down in laughter. The man is the only one who knows what’s really going on, and is fighting to save a young woman from a terrible fate. And so he takes refuge in laughter, breaks the strain, and is ready to deal with new horrors. That Bram Stoker, he was no fool. He knew how comedy and horror are connected.

And now to Jane. Summer of the Netherfield Witch is a comedy, but Jane Harris is about to confront the worst horror of the story so far. Because in chapter seven, “The relatives come to visit.”

About Brian Bixby

I enjoy history because it helps me understand people. I'm writing fiction for much the same reason.
This entry was posted in Netherfield Witch, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chapter 7 of Summer of the Netherfield Witch, and the role of comedy in horror

  1. Really enjoyed this chapter!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s