The the most frightening tool that can

The genre of horror is one that tends to be associated with disturbing imagery of blood, gore, and monsters. While these are reliable motifs used by writers to frighten readers, perhaps the most frightening tool that can be used to disturb audiences is uncertainty. Unlike the typical shock horror seen in most novels of this genre, what makes the work of authors such as Julio Cortázar, Henry James, Roberto Bolaño, and Jorge Luis Borges singularly unsettling and uncanny is the use of psychological horror. Turn of the Screw epitomizes psychological horror through the Governess’s first-hand account of the ghosts she allegedly encountered while looking after Miles and Flora. Henry James integrates surrealism into his novel by externalizing the main character’s sublimated desires, fears, and socially unaccepted ideas. The Governess’s repressed desire for the master manifests through her visions of the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Throughout the novel, the Governess seems to be experiencing psychosis through her inability to distinguish her hallucinations from reality. She jumps to conclusions about the world around her with great confidence and emphaticism, despite having little concrete evidence. Her delusional thinking and paranoia is then transferred to the reader as well. The horror in Turn of the Screw comes from the attrition of a discernible storyline and single interpretation. Our own paranoia is, in turn, used against us to generate fear. The ambiguity forces readers to jump to conclusions and build their own narratives. The ominous mood and ostensible malice present in the story makes audiences construct paranoid and disturbing ideas of the intentions of the characters. Readers are more frightened by the horrific implications of the story, rather than anything present in the story itself. Upon reading Amulet, readers are often left questioning Auxilio’s sentiments in the beginning when she states that her story is a horror story. While the novel does not focus on the more conventional shock horror motifs as Turn of the Screw does, the psychological horror is present through the multiple realities Auxilio shifts between throughout the novel. Although this constant shift makes it difficult for readers to distinguish past, present, future, and even dreaming from one another, it serves as a space of consistency in that it acknowledges the inner states, thoughts, and desires of Auxilio which drive the story, rather than consequences of chronological events. The multiple realities provide infinite possibilities of interpretations and meanings. The uncertainty this gives readers ultimately cultivates an atmosphere of uncanniness. Perhaps the most uncanny moments in the novel are the dreams Auxilio experiences. Dreaming is an integral aspect of the human experience that embodies thoughts and feelings from multiple areas of the psyche. It is a powerful source of creative imagination that encomasses our brightest joys, forbidden desires, and darkest fears by envisioning alternate possibilities beyond boundaries of waking reality. In dreams, one enters a surrealistic realm of ambiguity where the unrecognizable part of the mind is tapped into making it a disturbing phenomenon for people.Readers will never truly know which events in Amulet are memories, fantasies, or dreams. The multiple reality aspect makes audiences question Auxilio’s reliability as a narrator. This constant shift between realities is often contradicting and non sequitur, leading readers to also question whether Auxilio was a real person or a symbol of something greater. The essence of Amulet challenges the human proclivity to build a story bound as a conventional narrative. It forces one to go outside of their typical thought process and devise theories that oppose their own preconceived ideas of how a story can function. Stories such as Amulet and Turn of the Screw were created for readers to question reality through their ambiguous nature. Each reader has a distinct vision and interpretation of these stories. The infinite amount of possibilities in meaning proves that an entity can exist in more than one way and nothing is more wrong or right in interpretation than the other. In a modern society that longs for familiarity and consistency, what is so off putting about these novels is that it does not follow the linear logic of traditional stories and throws readers into an unfamiliar world where anything can unfold.

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