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Daily Archives: June 27, 2012

Gothic Sparkhouse

I’ve been feeling deflated these past few days, and I’m struggling to be my bouncy self.

I know it’s only temporary, but I can’t rest until all my exam results are in, this school year is put to rest, and my thoughts can continue in their usual chirpy manner.

Last weekend I re-watched Sparkhouse.

The last time I had seen  it was on YT on an IPad, with each episode sliced into 10 minute parts.

I liked it, but I can now confirm that as much as watching something in this way can provide a quick fix, I could appreciate the mini-series so much more on a TV screen.

I had missed so many elements the first time around.

I remember thinking: Poor John!

This time around I was thinking: Poor poor Carol!

In keeping with the gothic convention, this story has all the element we would come to expect of (it is loosely based on Wuthering Heights, after all).

We have the rural area, the crumbling house, long past its glory.

The distance from other dwellings helps to hide the depravities that take place there.

There is a feeling of doom and gloom.

The characters are dissolutioned, with no prospects for the future, and a depressing feeling of never being able to move on somewhere better. They feel trapped in the reality that surrounds them but, for one reason or another, feel compelled to exist in a tortuous environment.

With the feeling of seclusion comes depravity. The social norms and taboos don’t influence the lives of the inhabitants of Sparkhouse. Carol was clearly let down by the authorities who were meant to protect her.

The fall of the authority is an important theme.

We can clearly see the weakness of paternalism. Those in a father-figure position are either too weak to protect their family, or are the cause of suffering. The parent becomes the child. Adolescents are face with grown-up problems, and are forced to take on the role of protector of other children.

I used to think: Poor John! because I focused on the Armitage character.

 I felt like life would be wonderful for him if only Carol loved him back. I felt like she was using him and didn’t care about his feelings.

Wrong!

Carol is the clear victim here.

She is a product of a horrible upbringing, one that made her constantly fight to survive.

Every single man in her life had let her down.

 

Yes, even John, in some ways.

She was always honest with him, which is something I overlooked the first time around.

She made a promise to be faithful to him, and she did.

She vowed they would be ‘proper’ man and wife. I can’t even imagine what sex must be like for a victim of child abuse, rape.

Even if it distraught her, she still upheld her part of the agreement and slept with John.

It’s true that if you look at other male characters in Sparkhouse, it’s hardly fair to call John a  wrong-doer.

He has a kind heart.

It’s his loneliness that makes him weak. It makes him vulnerable and easy to manipulate.

His affection for Carol, and the desire to be with her clouds his judgment.

I have no doubt that he wants to look after Carol, but I think he would always prove too weak for her. Perhaps, because all Carol has ever experienced in life is pain and disappointment, she could never fully surrender to John. He, in turn, would always be too weak to have a positive effect on her.

 I doubt he’d have the strength to exorcise the memories of the past.

Then again, maybe John looking after Carol, loving her unconditionally is what would finally break the horrible cycle of violence and abuse in Sparkhouse.

I love Sparkhouse.

I have a feeling that when I go back to it one day, I’ll discover many other details that I have overlooked.

If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so!

All images: RACentral
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