Do you struggle with being too bland? Constantly doing everyday activities like ‘working’ and ‘cooking’? Is the number of people who tut under their breaths and mutter in hushed tones as you pass distressingly small? Have you failed to commit even one signal crime to blast your soul for the duration of the withered years that remain to you?
Fear not! Our patented Guide to becoming a Gothic Hero will set you on the right track immediately and before you know it, you’ll be fighting the whims of a tormenting fate and blazing like a meteor across the sky to your own destruction. My patented method also sets you on the right path to meeting your soulmate – the Gothic angel to your damned wanderer, the solace for your ceaseless woes. (No guarantees can be offered as to your ability to either win their love or keep them alive.)
- If you’re not brooding RIGHT NOW, get to it. A true Gothic hero will spend at least 3 hours a day gazing into the void contemplating such illuminating subjects as: the unspeakable crimes of his past; the inherent injustice of his fate; nebulously expressed convictions regarding the urgency of existential dread; the confining hypocrisies of societal forms; or the death of all meaning. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to thing about these topics, we have found that musing on a particularly disappointing luncheon can produce the same outward effect. Remember to combine tortured, enquiring, defiant and despairing. Bilious will not suffice. Starting your career in brooding with a full three hours is not advisable. Start with fifteen minutes and build up in daily increments. Be aware that under specific circumstances (the loss of your beloved, the failure of your plans to overthrow the tyranny of unjust rulers, an abortive demonic pact), you must be prepared to brood for significantly longer periods. Get training now to avoid disappointment at these pivotal moments.
- Obtain a suitable address. A Gothic hero is constitutionally incapable of residing in close proximity to the masses and you will instead wish to relocate to one of the following locations: a mouldering ruin (a castle will do but an abbey is to be preferred); a large and rambling property held in your family for centuries and conveniently stocked with priest-holes, hidden passageways and perpetually locked doors; a windswept mansion (a large farmhouse or inn is also acceptable if funds are an issue) located atop a windblown height; or a broken down house haunted by spectres of the past. You will preferably choose a site beset by bleak and rolling moors, begirt by dark and dreary woods, or blown by the gales which sweep its gables and rush in from the sea which roars beneath its windows. On no account are you to live in a well-kept or well-appointed dwelling. Comfort is for those who are not doomed by fate itself.
- Develop an eye for setting. No Gothic hero is seen to advantage in such mundane locations as: the bathroom, a clean kitchen, a pleasantly laid out garden, a busy shop or a small industrial town. If you must appear indoors, do so dressed in a lavish robe and reclining on a chaise longue or alternatively by glowering in a dark corner of the room upon those unfortunate enough to dwell with you.
- If you are entering society, be sure to create an appropriate impression. Although the Gothic hero’s heart should long to dwell in solitude, occasional public appearances are a requisite aspect of building your reputation. When you go to social gatherings, a suitable effect can be attained by perpetual tardiness, excessive public gambling, pointed rudeness and choosing at all times to wear black and an exquisitely tied cravat. You should also attempt to maintain a curated reputation for iniquity. The odd expressive eyebrow raise should be sufficient when accompanied by drawled and laconic comments couched in terms of deliberate ambiguity.
- The Gothic hero is best suited to sublime scenes and in an attitude which expresses unspent energies. Develop the following hobbies: striding across the moors; riding black steeds across the skyline; exquisite swordplay; and sailing (with the wind to your back and an expression of fierce triumph at your mastery of the elements maintained at all times). You should also purchase a dog, preferably of large and fierce mien, to accompany you upon any walks. We also advise learning to dance. This is largely unconnected to the sublime settings in which you should seek to position yourself but will be essential when meeting your soulmate. No Gothic hero can survive intact the discovery of his two left feet.
- In keeping with this affinity for sublime scenes, the Gothic hero would do well to develop the habit of poetry. It is also worth nothing that each Gothic hero needs a mission – poetry offers the opportunity both to condemn the hypocrisies of the crowd and convert the world to your outcast’s view. Other possible missions include: hiding from the world and curating your vengeance; doomed battles against demons, governments or natural laws; or the quest for love (which, despite your cynicism, you still believe in. Don’t you?).
- In order to avoid the charge of ‘poseur’, you will wish to develop a suitably tragic past. In some cases, this simply involves reframing your past experiences into tragedies. You once had a lover? You have mourned ever since the decay of your love and the subsequent disenchantment with the sex. You fell out with a friend who was a bit of a knob? You have been blasted by betrayal and the early naivety of your youth has withered on the vine. You once had an argument with your parents? You are the victim of a parental tyranny as petty as it is life and soul-destroying. See? Easy. You try.
- If you have had a disastrously pleasant and untrammelled life, you must seek to create a tragic backstory now. (You can backdate it). The easiest way is, of course, to associate with blaggards and ne’er-do-wells or fall in love with a being of exquisite beauty and a fickle heart. You may also attempt wandering unprovisioned into the mountains. Your subsequent adventures and narrow escape from death will no doubt provide you with both a tragic backstory and fuel for your endless reflections on the futility, meaninglessness and bittersweet pull of life itself.
- To really become a Gothic hero, you will need a crime to stain your soul with indelible hues of damnation. Although we cannot recommend, in all good conscience, a specific crime, previous Gothic heroes of renown have chosen the following options: demonic pacts; fruitless defiance of the divine order (bonus points if you use science to defy death itself); plain old murder; betrayal of a childhood friend’s trust; Faustian bargains with dark others to obtain riches or usurp an inheritance; the jealous destruction of a family; kidnap and hostage-taking; a wife in the attic; or forbidden love. A favourite variant of the forbidden love choice in the past was the selection of a close family member as love object – a sign of earlier unenlightened times. The modern Gothic hero will choose instead a lover disapproved by their relatives and friends for reasons which are both petty and obscure.
- Having garnered all the accoutrements of the Gothic hero, you will wish to seek the love of your life. There are several options here and it is not for the writers of this guide to choose for you. You may wish to marry an ingenue; employ a young woman as governess to your mysterious ward; fall in love with another’s affianced bride/bridegroom; take on a lifelong obsession with a childhood companion; worship a celestial beauty from afar; employ a young secretary; or stalk the shadows at a ball your eyes fixed upon the object of your desire. Under no circumstances should your fancy alight on somebody practical or plain. You may as well kiss your Gothic status goodbye. (They may think themselves plain but this will be a blatant falsehood). The less personality they have, the better. Otherwise, they will attempt to interrupt your soliloquies and tortured musings beyond what is, quite frankly, acceptable.
We wish you every success in your pursuit of Gothic heroism. Testimonials may be sent to Sam Hirst at @RomGothSam. Any complaints shall be torn asunder by our fevered hands, cast into the flames and scattered upon the sea.