Specifically, in our characters and the stories we write.
I’m actually going to start with something that, I think, few people probably think about, even though it is pretty integral.
Yes, the stories we all know (and generally love) about the boy who lived. A story about magic, good vs evil, owls, and even the roller-coaster of youth.
Not exactly Gothic per se, but bear with me.
Between the lines
In Harry Potter, we witness magic being used in a wide variety of forms; levitating troll clubs, transfiguring physical forms, and death.
Harry is known to have survived what should have killed him, and all throughout the book, the killing spell is considered absolute (as far as I can remember).
So what saved him? It was described that his mothers love, as she died, protected him against the power of Voldemort – I’m sure Dumbledore described it as the most powerful kind of magic around, but I don’t have the books to hand.
However, I would argue that this wasn’t simply magic or love.
It was the soul, and specifically his mothers, for such a thing could only be possible if there was a state of life after death, in which only the soul exists (the source of magic?)
And don’t forget, the souls of those killed by Voldemort briefly return to help Harry. Soul is important.
There is a great deal of discussion and folklore regarding the spirit of a Vampire and so on, however this isn’t my focus here.
I want to address an element that has the potential to add so much to a story, just as in HP.
In my own story Dawn of Eternity, I reference the soul a lot:
…their eyes meeting like souls born apart across some impassable terrain.
The blade of a vampire is no mere shaping of metal; it has to embody the immortal soul that wields it on the physical plane
For one, it helps create a sense of great emotion. It’s personal and sacred.
Two, it suggests importance and power.
So for my characters (who aren’t all Vampires), I am able to create relatable depth on a personal level, and translate this into their physical (and maybe otherwise) reality.
Just as Harry’s mother did; her emotion gave him real protection.
The soul in Gothic
How then do I tie this in with Gothic fiction?
I would say, not only is it very easy, but actually necessary.
These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation… – Frankenstein.
The soul has always been a part of the style and genre, it is the soul goes through the terror of the darkness, the soul which corrupted, and turned immortal, now haunts the living.
It enables us, as writers, to tailor more than a story; we tailor an experience, just as we ourselves live through our own lives in this time.