The Diary of a Madman – Short Story
This story is a narration of a note found on an old man that had died, This man was a highly respected judge who had condemned many men and women to death in his career. The note that had been found on his turns out to be a piece of script from his diary. The logs in the diary follow this mans decent in to do darkness, his growing obsession to kill. He starts with a bird then over the course of a year it escalates to the murder of a fisher man that is then blamed on the mans nephew who is condemned to death. This short story is like a concentrate of gothic fiction, tying together so many elements of it all in to a page or two, these include and incredibly strong gothic protagonist in a position of great power (a judge), He experiences strong emotions that over power him ultimately forcing him to commit to the extremes and experience our natural instincts that have been hidden by our need to conform to society.
In this case the gothic protagonist is the madman, the judge. This judge is well regarded and plays a huge roll in the community, People look to him as someone that can be trusted and that serves the community, someone that would likely never be suspected of such horrid crimes “How could he suspect me?”. The protagonist eventually over turned by his strong emotional need to kill, I say over turned because it is clear that, initially at least, the judge never would have thought about the prospect of killing a man as toward the beginning he seems disapproving of murder “Why did this man kill five children?”. To me this seems like the natural reaction for a judge. But something gets in to him, he begins to feel this overwhelming erdge to do something, to take a life. He begins to fantasies about these acts and feels that it would be “intoxicating’ to complete them.
A long time ago humans hunted and killed other humans as a right, a right to protection and a right to preservation. This behaviour, as much as we may hate to admit it, is instinctual to us. Just as it is to cats, dogs, pigs and many other wild animals.”Why then is it a crime to kill? Yes, why? On the contrary, it is the law of nature. The mission of every being is to kill; he kills to live, and he kills to kill.” It is Natural… This is the judges reasoning weather you agree or disagree with it. One aspect of gothic fiction is the idea of being closer to nature, having an intimate connection with it. The obsession that the judge begins to grow is one of nature, it is something that would bring him closer with humans primal nature to kill.
I find the idea of being obsessed with something so dark quite interesting and quite disturbing. Thankfully it is not something i can relate with and i hope that it is something most people can’t relate with. However it is very intriguing to delve deeper in to your own mind and your thoughts on the subject. It really helps you, or it really helps me to find where my morals lay on circumstance like this. I couldn’t imagine feeling a lust for murder or blood and it is scary to think that there are people, and probably more people then we think out there that gleefully struggle with the idea of taking a life.
The story also touches on justice when talking about the fishermans nephew and how he was wrongly accused of the fishermans murder, “The nephew has all but confessed, they have badgered him so. Ah! ah! justice!”
I found this quite disturbing and it makes me wonder how often people are locked up for things they didn’t actually do. I personally have more than two people in my life that have been accused of serious things that are later to be found false and i know how it affects these people and their lives. In some cases their friends and partners have left them and they have very little left so it can be pretty serious.
These ideas of false justice and toying with murder make me uncomfortable to say the least, Its a pretty damn scary short story and is very effective.