Archive for the ‘NEW’ Category

Happy New Year faithful readers!

2019 is going to be a great and active year here at!

In January, we will see the first episodes of The Heroic Wordsmith Podcast!!!

I have written the first three episodes of the podcast and will be posting reference material here to to accompany each episode as it is released. I am really excited to see how many people can get some use from the podcast as it is really shaping up to be EXACTLY what I was hoping for; A humorous, yet solid, guide on writing craft that covers everything from grammar to literary pacing to the actual publishing process.

A solid release date for my upcoming novel, The Artist and the Carpenter, should also be available in the very near future!

2019 will also bring new releases from Nothing Comics, that will pick up where the events of last year’s premiere volume, El Frio, left off.

It is a very exciting time to be a creative and I wanted to take a moment to share my sincere appreciation for EVERYONE that has shown support for me and my creative projects.

Enjoy 2019 and stay tuned for exciting updates from the desk of Jim T. Gammill.


fissure 2.jpg



A Poem

By: Jim T. Gammill

From the womb it grew; born from the heat of the most primal of flames.

Ignited by passion and lust and the greed of self-preservation it emerged as something molten and true.

As the flames cooled, the perception of form transformed from abstract to defined.

From defined to solid reality.

Like the core of the Earth, whose molten innards shift and change,

the thing also shifted and the thing also changed

If their molten heat were to cool, both objects would turn as hard as stone

The stone is hard, seemingly impenetrable, and heavy.

But lacks movement and fluidity.

Fissures result from a lack of pliability.

Anything solid has an innate propensity to break given enough pressure.

Only those that burn hot and stay liquid are immune.

Whether it be from passion alone or the convection of pure heat

the fluid and pliable remain unscathed.

Solid rock may crumble.

And a fissure in a frozen heart will only lead to its breaking.

The Mirrors.jpg


The Mirrors

It has been a while since she left, but when I lie down to sleep I can still feel her next to me.

 I can smell her.

 I can hear her.

 But when I turn over,

to put a hand on her back,

 there is nothing,

 but the sheets and the air.

Sometimes I roll over to the spot she once occupied and sniff hungrily; in the secret hope that she would be there one day and the air would smell sweet and inviting.

The way that she once did.

I say sometimes, but it could more accurately be described as often, maybe even nightly. It’s fine though, because the ghost of her keeps me company, the life we shared, the kids we had, and the lives we were honored to be a part of. I can still hear the laughter in the hallways and see the hints of dancing shadows on the walls.

One night I awoke to find her next to me.

The image was something that I had been longing for, but it felt so wrong in the moment that it happened. My first instinct was to:

 Engulf her in my embrace.

To hold her close.

To never let her go again.

 But instead, I chose to watch her for a short while and try to remember what it used to feel like to have someone that I could call my own. I didn’t want to fall asleep, because I knew that it would only mean that the dream would come to an end.

A glimmer of light flashed in the corner of my eye. I ignored it and looked back at the woman sleeping next to me.

The light flashed once again, and I knew that it was useless to resist, I stood up from my bed and walked to the source of the light. I looked back at my sleeping partner and saw her form consumed by shadows.

 I smiled when I thought of her return.

 I frowned when I saw her leave yet again,

The mirrors were something different altogether, I walked into the bathroom area of my master bedroom and was taken aback when the doorway sealed behind me. Nothing but mirrors surrounded me and in them I saw not my own reflection, but images of people.

People that I knew.

People that I loved.

And some that I had never seen before.

I watched them doing things and saw that the people that I had known were all different somehow, some were thinner, others more muscular, while others had put on some weight. As I watched them I saw that they were all happy.

I felt mischievous.

Like a Peeping Tom.

Like someone that didn’t have a right to be watching.

And then it came.

I saw my wife.

The woman I had yearned to have by my side with another man.

He looked like me.

He was me.

But, on the other side of the mirror.

I saw her laughing.

I saw her loving him.

And realized that it was me that had left.

Me that had disconnected and gone away.

I watched the other people in the mirrors and saw the reflections of people that I knew as living souls.

They were the same but, better.


I turned to go back to my wife and saw that the doorway was blocked by another mirror. I saw all the images behind me and realized that my desire for their happiness was stronger than the desire for my own.

I took one last glance over my shoulder at the images of all the lives that I might change.

I thought of how I could help them when I returned.

And then I smashed through the glass and crawled back into bed

With her.









This day has been a long time coming!
Nothing Comics has officially released its first illustrated book!
El Frio is listed as a graphic novel on amazon, but is really something of a hybrid.
As co-founder of the Nothing Comics label and Co-Author and Co-Creator of the company’s first book, I really wanted to bring my visceral and lean story telling style to a platform that could also showcase some great art! My partner, Michael Perez, and I were determined to create a story that wasn’t just for die-hard comic book fans, but for anybody that enjoys riveting stories.
Like anyone in the middle of a new project, it was difficult at times to keep the details under wraps, so I found myself reciting vague elevator pitches to give people an idea of what to expect and to this day, I still feel like it does the job.
“Imagine Netflix’s Daredevil meets Narcos and Breaking Bad”
I mean, how could you go wrong with that?!
As always, I am extremely grateful for all of the support given to me by my faithful readers over the years and I hope that all of you will take the time to enjoy El Frio, now available in print at the following url:

nothing logo.jpg


Image result for coming soon

It has been a very exciting and eventful 2018!

My novel, The Artist and the Carpenter, is finally in the editing stages. For those of you that have been following my blog, you know that this day has been a long time coming! The project came from a very personal place for me and as I mentioned in one of my last posts, I did hit a bit of resistance, which seemed to grow stronger and stronger as I got closer to wrapping up the project.


I am a firm believer in writing a first draft as fast as possible to get the bones of the story down and then working to flesh out whatever is missing in later drafts. Like giving birth to a baby who crawls at first, learns to walk, gets nurtured, and eventually grows into a healthy adult.

This project, on the other hand, was more like assembling a fully functional adult, who came complete with their own history, memories, and plenty of emotional baggage. With that being said, I think that the editing process will go much faster than with any of my past projects because many of the chapters are ready to go, with the exception of maybe minor wordsmithing and double checking for flow and continuity.

A summer 2018 release is eminent!

I will keep everyone updated here and on social media with any developments.

In addition to the book release, I will be releasing the first in a series of collaborative projects published by Nothing Comics! My business partner/collaborator and I will be reviewing proof copies of our first graphically enhanced novelette within the next month.

This project also took some time to nurture from its infancy stages to finished draft, but has been a labor of love. The prose is clean, the story is captivatingly gritty, and the illustrations are amazing!

This project is also slated for a Summer 2018 release.

 More to come and as always, thank you for reading!




For those of you that loved “Not only the Dead“, a new tale of emotional terror is coming to you very soon care of your friendly neighborhood ‘serial thriller’.

As a writer, I enjoy delving into the realms of the human condition that people can relate to. In my lighter works, such as the first installment of my coming of age  ‘things taken’ series, Whispers of the Wakinyan, our heroes are pitted against monsters.

In Not only the Dead and its upcoming predecessor, The Artist and the Carpenter, our protagonists would beg to fight a monster or be given any opportunity to gain closure, because their battles originate from places unseen.

The dark.

The unimaginable.

The deeply personal.

Enjoy this “flash teaser”.

                                  Not a chapter, not a paragraph, but only a glimpse…

My mind apparently brushes over something unsettling, because about half way into the drive, the hair on my arms begins to stand on end and coldness begins to spread from somewhere deep inside my gut. Like many emotions that I hadn’t understood at the time:

I push the feelings away.

                    Knowing that one day,

                                        I will have to face them all,

                                                    Like a collection of unwanted children,

                                                                   Who as broken adults,

                                                                               Demand to know

                                                                                            Why they were not embraced.



Greetings faithful readers,

I am re-posting this as a refresher and will be following up with chapter two later this week. I hope that you all enjoy! I will be providing you all with at least 3 finished projects this year (two of which have kept me pretty busy lately!) and can’t wait to share them with you all.

Joey Gordon #2 is in the works and MAY be project #4 for 2018!


Joey Gordon would always remember the Grand Canyon. It was the first time he saw his parents act like they were truly in love; Henry Gordon, the tight-collared businessman instantly became Hank, the care-free athlete that his mother had fallen in love with. Likewise, Joey’s mother Theresa, whom he had just come to know by her pet name of Tessy, seemed different. Lighter. The weight of her suburban life and domestic obligations seemingly sucked into the open air of the vast Arizona desert.  Joey’s nose crinkled at the fruity pungent odor of his donkey, Paco, as he watched the serpentine twists of the Colorado River unwind beneath him. He glanced back at his sister, Addie, as she tried to re-lock her hands around her mount’s neck. She looked at Joey with sand streaked tears, seemingly etched into her young white cheeks.

“Joey! Joey, can you hear it?” Addie squealed.

The hard looking Mexican guiding Addie’s mule grimaced and pulled her mount back onto the narrow path. A pair of small chrome bells around the mule’s neck chimed as the man tugged at the animal’s tether. A couple of unnervingly large rocks dislodged themselves and tumbled down into the canyon. As if on the same wavelength, Joey and Addie broke eye contact and watched the rocks bounce and tumble down the steep side of the path and into the canyon.

“Did you hear it?” Addie asked again once the rocks had fallen completely out of sight.

“Hear what? All I heard was you crying,” Joey grimaced and patted his donkey’s side, “and maybe Paco farting.”

Addie smiled at this, but it didn’t last long. She craned her head as something seemed to whisper to her from the vastness of the canyon. She turned sharply away; her eyes darting rapidly down toward the river.

“There it is again! You have to hear it,” Addie pleaded.

Joey shook his head.

Heyoka! Heyoka,” She yelled.

The Mexican’s eyes widened. His head whipped to Addie, to make sure he had heard what he thought he had. His eyes fell on her tiny form just as her mule brayed and reeled back on its hind legs.

“Ay! Tranquilo! No te preocupes! Tranquilo!” The guide yelled. The large man wrapped his thick, brown fingers around the thin strap of leather tethered to the mule’s neck. He dug his feet into the soft dirt and pulled at the bucking animal with all of his might.

“Joey! Help,” Addie cried.

“Everything okay back there?” Hank yelled from a short distance up the trail.

The mule continued to buck and bray with such force that the Mexican lost his footing and began to slide into the canyon. Dust and rock began to pour over the edge of the trail like a tiny brown avalanche as the stout man clawed at the earth.

“Addie’s in trouble!”  Joey screamed. Up the trail, he could see his father trying to lower himself from his donkey against the protests of his own guide.

“It is not safe señor! There is no footing,” The vaquero pleaded.

“Daddy!” Addie’s eyes went wide as her guide’s weight pulled one of her mule’s front legs off the trail. The small girl unleashed an otherworldly scream as the bells on the animal’s collar jingled and jangled.

Joey looked up the trail again, desperate to see if his father had succeeded in dismounting his donkey. He had indeed, but now Hank had two strong hands on the shoulders of the animal trying to find the space for him to go under or around the thing. Joey could tell by his father’s face that the possibility of Hank moving around the animal was non-existent, “I can’t make it Joey. You have to get Addie!”

Joey looked at his sister as the rear leg of her mule went over the edge. Her screams seemed to drown out as the situation became eerily clear. His sister was going to die if he could not get to her.

“Hold on Addie!” Joey exclaimed.

Joey dismounted over the rear of his donkey as Hank tried desperately to find a way around his own lumbering animal. Joey took three wide strides and found himself staring into the eyes of the terrified mule as it teetered at a 45-degree angle over the edge of the canyon. The dangling Mexican reached for Joey’s ankle as he passed. Unconsciously, Joey kicked the man’s hand away with his foot and kept moving. He grabbed his sister’s slender leg just as the guide and the mule tottered over the edge completely and into the canyon.

Addie slipped from atop her mount, her left shoe caught in one of the leather stirrups and was ripped free from her foot. Joey looked on in amazement as it fell into the canyon with the animal and its guide. The falling man screamed and the animal brayed deafeningly, but to Joey and his sister, it seemed as if it had only lasted an instant. As the two children looked at the man and the mule fall into the depths of the canyon all sound seemed to disappear save for the ringing of the bells around the animal’s neck.

As the two neared the ground and the inevitable impact, Hank was upon them. He scooped Joey and Addie into his arms. His hold was strong and his heart was racing. Hank breathed heavily with his children held close as the echoes of screams and ringing bells were silenced with a thud.


The remainder of the descent into the canyon was long and mostly silent. After the three trail animals failed to catch up to Theresa, she had begun to grow uneasy. When her daughter’s screams echoed from around the canyon walls she had to be contained by her guide, a thin and wrinkled man named Fernando, for her own safety. Now that the family had regrouped, they had decided to make the remainder of the hike on foot.    “Are you kids alright?” Theresa asked not knowing what else to say.

Joey turned from his mother’s soft gaze. Addie clawed her tiny fingers into her father’s back and nodded quietly. Hank had been carrying her since the incident and the toll of the added weight was evident by his gradually slouching posture.

“Almost there,” Fernando yelled from up ahead.

Joey tried his best not to look in the direction of the accident, but couldn’t help noticing the growing cluster of birds over the area, their circles growing smaller and smaller as they closed in on the fresh offering to the desert earth. He wondered how all the birds in the area could be aware of the bodies already; he thought of shark week on the Discovery Channel and concluded that birds must have similar senses. A drop of blood in the water a mile away and the smell of death carried by dry desert wind seemed equally plausible to him.

The path began to grow wider and less steep as it opened into the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon. Hank put a hand on his wife’s shoulder and whispered something to her that the kids couldn’t hear. Theresa gave Hank a solemn look and guided Addie away as soon as the ground leveled.

Joey looked up at his father and was sad to notice that the lightheartedness and confidence of Hank had disappeared. The eyes that stared into his now belonged to the dry and familiar persona of Henry, the accountant. Joey thought that the ‘Hank’ persona would probably be more of a comfort now, but knew that his father’s cold and calculating personality had returned just in time. A man had died today and aside from his grandmother, who had died when he was younger than Addie, the man had been the first person he had ever met that died. At least that he had known of.

“You saved her, Joe,” Hank said between heavy breaths, “you could have been hurt son, killed even. Did you even think about that?”

Joey stared at his father pensively, then shook his head, “no. I mean, Addie would have fallen with them for sure. I didn’t even think of what might happen to me.”

Hank smiled down at Joey, “not very many people could have done what you did, Joe,” he placed a hand on his son’s back and got down on one knee to pull him into a bear hug.

Joey could feel fresh tears on his cheek as his father held him tight. He wasn’t sure if they were from his eyes, which had been burning since the accident, or his father’s, which he had noticed were squinted abnormally tight against the high desert sun. He could see his mother and sister over his father’s shoulder. They seemed to be having a similar talk, but Addie was crying softly into the dusty strap of their mother’s backpack. The long blond hair on her tiny child’s shoulders made the reality of her near-death experience tug at him. Now he was sure that at least some of the tears were his. He pulled away from his father and wiped his leaking eyes with the back of his hand.

“Would you do something for me, Dad?” Joey asked.

“Sure son. What is it?”

“Call me Joey. I don’t think I’m ready for Joe yet.”

“You got it,” Hank smiled, messed Joey’s hair, and guided him with a strong hand back toward the group.

The vaqueros looked at the white family they had led into the canyon with expressions of subdued terror. The guide for Joey’s mount had been a mostly silent man, seemingly solid of mind. The death of one of his partners had begun to sink in and the guide began to mumble almost incoherently, “Ay, Fernando. Heyoka. The little one said she heard Heyoka!”

Fernando looked at his young, strong browed companion. Wrinkles of concern clawed out of the corners of his eyes like deep creases in aged leather, “What are you saying?”

Heyoka. The trickster,” The guide was cut short by Fernando’s darting eyes. The white woman, Theresa, and the little girl were approaching.

Un memento, sera,” Fernando said with a bright and friendly twinkle in his eye. The twinkle disappeared just as quickly as he hunkered down to talk to his companion, “even if she did hear it, the trickster would be their problem. Not ours.”

“Excuse me,” Theresa said mousily as she approached the two men, “what are we going to do now?”

The men looked at her and then at Addie. Her tiny, tear-streaked face wore an expression that was entirely out of place. It shown with a wisdom and knowledge that few ever experienced. The young guide knew when he looked upon Addie that the bells she had heard had been more than the rusty set pulled taught around the pack animal’s neck. Based on Fernando’s grim scowl, he knew too.

A bird squealed from above. Not the normal high pitched exclamation, but a low rhythmic tap like the muffled laughter of a small hyena. Theresa looked up and shielded her eyes against the harsh desert sun. Flares of lights came in and out of view as one of the large scavenging birds cast a thousand shadows on the earth around them. Theresa stared at the animal, which sat suspended in the unseen fingers of the wind. Addie reached out and grabbed Fernando’s hanging and leathery hand. The man looked down at the small girl. She was no longer crying. She was somber now, almost supernaturally so. Joey’s little sister whispered the one word that could make the hard man unravel.




          Hank smiled down at Joey as they took step after step on the cracked earth of the Colorado River bank. The pair wordlessly navigated around the sparse green shrubs that shot out of the dry fissures like rigid serpents. The echo of odd, birdlike laughter resonated around them and offset the otherwise serene desert silence.

A commotion rose up from where the others were huddled and then the mock peacefulness that can only be observed in the wake of tragedy was shattered. And when Theresa started to scream, Hank knew that any sliver of peace and inner well-being that had survived within his psyche was about to be just as dead as the man on the bottom of the canyon.

“Put her down!” Theresa screeched, “Hank, he has Addie!”

Hank blinked his eyes in disbelief when he saw Fernando, the senior guide, scoop his daughter up in his sweaty arms and sprint into the desert. It happened so swiftly that Theresa could only scream and claw reflexively at the space that the two had occupied just seconds before. Hank realized that shock had found its way into him as well. For an instant, all that he could do was look upon the pair with disbelief. Primal instincts took hold of him and before he could notice the pulse of adrenaline in his chest, he was in pursuit.

Joey stared on with dumbfounded eyes. His father was running like he had never seen him before, dust exploded from the dry topsoil with each stride. The vaquero moved to block Hank gibbering in Spanish so quickly that no one could possibly understand what he was saying. The vaquero reached out with his thin, but muscular arms and latched onto the now seething Hank Gordon.

“Get the hell off of me!” Hank screamed.

“Señor, it is the only way!” the Vaquero replied, “Fernando knows how to help her.”

This last comment seemed to hit Hank like a slap in the face, “help Addie?” Rage twisted his stoic accountant-like features as Theresa approached the two from behind, “no one is going to be able to help you if you don’t let go of me!”

The vaquero was surprised at Hank’s transformation and the look on Theresa’s face when her husband threw the slender man to the ground would suggest that she was too. Hank ran after Fernando and Addie, who ran in a chaotic zig-zag pattern through the desert, cutting through shrubs and cacti.

Joey’s heart sank when he saw where the man was taking his little sister. The shadows of the carrion birds danced across his young face as the sun began to disappear over the top edge of the canyon. Joey couldn’t feel his legs, but before he knew it, he was pumping them as fast as he could.

He thought of how Addie had squeezed his neck after he had saved her, along with the sweet smell of her sweat and tears as they watched the man and the animal flail to the bottom of the canyon. When he thought of her scream he remembered the first time that he was allowed to hold her as an infant. Sometimes, when she was upset he was the only person that could calm her, sometimes with a goofy face and sometimes with just the love she felt from him. It was this same love that made him run even faster.

Theresa was just beginning to come out of her stupor and stumble after Hank and Fernando as Joey shot by her like a dust fueled rocket, “Joey!”

“We have to get Addie!” Joey huffed, “I know where he’s taking her.”          Fernando slowed when he approached the body of his dead friend. He put Addie down, but she did not run. Her tiny eyes were transfixed on the twisted biomass on the ground before her. She instinctively reached a hand up to Fernando and the old man took it.

Fernando approached with trepidation. Addie followed him without hesitation, although all reasonable parts of her being were gripped in pure terror. Fernando gasped when he saw the earth beneath the bodies. His wrinkled fingers synched around the puffy flesh of Addie’s hand, “Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world. Hear me.”

Hank, Joey, and Theresa approached the bizarre scene rapidly and grew more and more uncertain as they came closer to Fernando and Addie. Hank felt his fists unclench and could feel the burn of the little crescent wounds that his fingernails had made in the soft flesh of his palms. He wondered how the rage that had overtaken him could abate so quickly. Was it because he had expected to find the man assaulting his daughter? Did he expect Addie to be crying or screaming? He didn’t know for sure, but what he did know was that he did not expect to find his daughter staring at this unnatural tableau of death and holding the hand of a wrinkled old stranger.

“Addie, come here, honey!” Hank commanded.

She let go of Fernando’s hand and the aged mass of gnarled bones and leathery skin thudded dully on the man’s faded denim pants. Hank’s daughter approached him with a cold blank expression and wordlessly clawed her way into his embrace. She wrapped her thin arms around his neck and sat her head on his heaving chest like she had so many times before to be tucked into bed or after having fallen asleep in the back of the family van during a long trip. This time was different somehow, he pulled Addie close to him and planted tiny kisses on her forehead. The air was quiet enough to allow Hank’s accountant mind to begin to rationalize the scene until Theresa began to scream.


The family stood stone-faced and transfixed on the broken bodies of the man and the pack mule. Fear, among other emotions, clawed at their unconscious while a more avert feeling of loss pulled at the Gordon family and the remaining tour guides. Theresa opened her mouth to talk, but nothing came out. Addie pushed and buried her head into her father’s chest so hard that Hank would later notice that the area was sore to the touch. Joey could not turn away from the terrible scene that had unfolded upon the cracked earth of the river’s shoulder even though he tried with all of his mental faculties. He knew he should turn away, or at least close his young eyes, but he couldn’t and neither could anyone else except for Addie.

It was not the death itself that unsettled them, but the gory gestalt that had spread across the dry earth. The guide’s head seemed to have popped, his right arm projected straight above his supine body. And the blood. Oh God, the blood. Joey looked at the crimson streamlets and noticed that they had formed a pattern: the guide had ended up mounted on the mule. Blood trimmed horns protruded from the crown of the man’s head. From the corpse’s broken right arm came a long spray of arterial blood, seemingly from the point where the hand meets the wrist.

Joey’s eyes focused on how the blood seemed to explode from the loosely balled fist. It looked like a spear. The man and the mule looked like some terrible demon riding toward an ancient battlefield.

Theresa covered her son’s eyes when she realized that he was taking in the same horrible scene that had rendered her speechless. Of course, the protective gesture came too late, the image had already etched itself into Joey’s mind. He would dream of demons for the rest of his life; the one he had seen depicted by death on the reddish brown Arizona soil, and the twisted horror that would follow his family back to California.

If you have not picked up a copy yet, check it out my kindle and print editions at:

As many of you know, Whispers of the Wakinyan is now live in the kindle store as well as in print on


Many exciting things have happened in the 48 hours or so since the book was released. Book sales are off to a great start in both formats and Whispers of the Wakinyan has also been downloaded several times through the Kindle Direct program, that allows members of Amazon Prime to download thousands of titles free to their kindle or ereader.

Image result for kindle direct publishing logo

It may seem somewhat strange for free copies of a work to be welcomed, but the download and consumption of free copies helps to both boost the ‘title rank’ in Amazon analytics and also qualifies the book to receive royalties from the Kindle Select Fund, which is distributed to all participating titles according to the number of pages read by subscribers.

Image result for amazon uk logo

Also, I have been invited to enter Whispers of the Wakinyan in an Amazon UK contest that is open to new book listings. With this being said, please remember to read and review to help take Whispers of the Wakinyan to the top of the rankings! Prizes include exclusive publishing opportunities and a higher rate of exposure.

Image result for amazon 5 star image


Essay on King Lear

Posted: May 17, 2013 in NEW
Tags: , ,

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the long time between posts, I have been pretty swamped with a few things. I noticed that I have gotten a lot of views on my post about Shakespeare’s use of catharsis. I have decided to post an essay I wrote a while back on King Lear…

For those of you that follow my blog for the horror content, I apologize, but if you give it a look you may be surprised! I mean they rip a guys eyeballs out while he’s still alive! And people thought Saw and Hostile were original….meeeh


The Ties that Bind and the Ones that Cause Pain:

King Lear by William Shakespeare is a tragic tale of betrayal, regret, and personal torment. The title character of the play is an aged king who gives away his kingdom and power to his two disloyal daughters, Goneril and Regan, who deceive Lear with fallacious statements of love and devotion.  Cordelia would not participate in this masquerade of false homages and in his rage King Lear banishes the only daughter who truly cares for him. In a series of complex plays for power, family betrayals, and human cruelty Lear must fight to keep his own sanity while everything he has ever known is taken away from him. In the tragic tale of King Lear Shakespeare tries to demonstrate that the people that one cherishes can cause them the most pain and that all the power in the world cannot save them from the grip of human cruelty.

Lear is portrayed as a strong and callous ruler in the opening scene of the play. The King seems to be uncompromising and when he talks people seem to listen. The gathering that Lear calls for his daughters and their suitors is a blatant competition. Lear, who seems to love all three of his daughters has a special place in his heart for Cordelia, the youngest and fairest. At this meeting Lear declares that they all proclaim their love for him, “which of you shall say we say doth love us most?” (Act I, Scene 1, 53). Goneril and Regan both claim that their love for him is vast and Lear gladly accepts their favors and grants them each a third of his kingdom. When it comes time for Cordelia to answer she replies, “unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond; no more nor less” (Scene I, Act 2, 94-96). Outraged he banishes her and she leaves with the King of France, who she has been promised to.  Upon Cordelia’s banishment the remaining two sisters begin to connive and plot against their father, they think his age is causing him to deteriorate and that, “they must do something, and i’ the heat,” (Act I, Scene 1, 312) to ensure that his failing judgment will not affect them, directly.

The major subplot in King Lear also pertains to the love and the potential of betrayal that family has on an individual. The Earl of Gloucester is similarly deceived by his bastard son, Edmund. Edmund cleverly stashes a letter in his pocket upon the entrance of his father knowing that his father would demand to see it. The letter has been fabricated to appear as if it came from Edgar, Gloucester’s legitimate son. The letter’s content is of scandal and betrayal against him, “O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain!” (Act I, Scene 2, 79-80). Edmund then guilefully plays the other side of the conflict to Edgar, “Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed. I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you. I have told you what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away,” (Act I, Scene 2, 188-192). The ball is in motion, Edmund’s play for power is pitting his father, the Earl of Gloucester against Edgar, his legitimate heir.

As the story unfolds in both the main plot line and the biggest subplot the idea of betrayal and the exploitation of family trust is truly taken to the next level. Lear, now retired from his kingly duties takes his entourage of one hundred men and his beloved fool to stay in the homestead of Goneril and her husband, the Duke of Albany. Goneril turns on him quickly and demands that he and his men leave, “you strike my people, and your disorder’d rabble make servants of their betters,” (Act I, Scene 3, 276-277). Lear is devastated that his own flesh and blood would turn on him so easily, “I am ashamed that thou hast power to shake my manhood thus; that these hot tears which break from me perforce, should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee,” (Act 1, Scene 4, 316-322). Lear flees to Regan’s home in the castle of the Duke of Cornwall, after telling Regan of her sister’s terrible treatment of him she replies, “I pray you, father, being weak, seem so. If till the expiration of your month, you will return and sojourn with my sister, dismissing half your train, come then to me,” (Act II, Scene 3, 204-207). Lear cannot believe his ears, both of his remaining daughters have turned against him and seek to shame him and strip away what little power he has left. It is at this point that King Lear begins his terrible descent into madness and takes to a life of vagrancy that is at least free from the hatred of his heathen daughters. Seeking shelter from a terrible storm, a storm that in many ways mimics the turmoil in his own head, Lear and his party stumble across Edgar in the guise of a beggar named Poor Tom.

Edgar has taken such a clever disguise that his own father, the Earl of Gloucester does not recognize him as he says, “our flesh and blood has grown vile, my lord, that it doth hate what gets it,” (Act III, Scene 4, 149-151).When Gloucester comes to rescue Lear from the cold he shows his true loyalty, “Though their injunction be to bar my doors, and let this tyrannous night take hold upon you, yet I have ventured to seek you out, and bring you where both fire and food is ready,” (Act III, Scene 4, 154-159). The saying that no good deed goes unpunished certainly holds true for the ill-fated Gloucester, The Earl of Cornwall, under the guidance of Regan and Goneril brutally rips the eyes from Gloucester’s head. Edgar acts as a contrast to the two villainous sisters and his nobility mirrors that of Cordelia who despite her father’s cruel words never stopped loving him. When Edgar sees his blinded father being led through the street by an old man, he insists that he be his new guide. This show of love and support to Gloucester, who had wrongfully shunned him is something that really reveals his noble character while at the same time making Edmund appear to be viler in comparison.

Edgar is not the only cast out child to make amends with their father, Cordelia arrives in England to stop what her sisters are doing. After finding Lear in bad shape upon her arrival Cordelia pleads, “O my dear father! Restoration hang thy medicine on my lips and let this kiss repair those violent harms that my two sisters have in thy reference made!” (Act IV, Scene 7, 24-27).  Lear knows that he has wronged her and tries to make amends with, “You must bear with me. Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish,” (Act IV, Scene 7, 84-86). In the play’s final scenes Goneril and Regan bicker about who Edmund, Gloucester’s illegitimate son really is in love with as he has been forming a relationship with both women in his play for power. Goneril poisons Regan and then takes her own life, yet another example of close loved ones having the ability to connive and harm with reckless abandon. Edmund orders Cordelia to a quick execution and Lear, now completely mad with sorrow dies next to her lifeless body. The deposed king dies broken hearted at the feet of the men that stand to inherit England and lead it into a new generation.

The resolution and intertwining of both story arcs provides huge implications on the root of family loyalties, personal honor, and the fate of the entire country of England. In the plays original Quarto version it had an additional scene that made the character of the Duke of Albany more of a major character, in the Folio version more emphasis is placed on Edgar and the young generation of leadership that he represents (Carson).  The very portrayal of the madness of King Lear is an interesting and profound achievement for Shakespeare according to Mike Ellison in his article, Literary Analysis Comes to Lear. Ellison states that, “having got more and more deeply into Shakespeare, it is becoming clear that he had a lot of knowledge of what goes on in human nature and how to use that knowledge therapeutically”. The madness of Lear could have been said to be the cause of his daughter’s betraying him, and the need for parental love could be said to have brought Cordelia back to rescue her father.

In conclusion William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a tragic tale of one man’s battle with betrayal and his own sanity. A recurring and powerful theme of the story is that anyone is capable of cruelty and when the cruelty comes from the hands of a loved one it is all the more painful. King Lear’s daughters were so hungry for power that they would strip the old king of what little he had left and Edmund was so jealous and callous that he would start the chain of events that would find his father blinded and dishonored. Shakespeare successfully demonstrates that the people that Lear cherished the most caused him the most pain and that all the power that he had possessed could not save him from the betrayal and wickedness of his own flesh and blood.

Works Cited

Carson, Christie. “The Quarto of King Lear.” Expert Views on the Quarto of King Lear. British                                                                            Library, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2013. <;.

Ellison, Mike. “Literary Analysis Comes to Lear.” The Guardian (pre-1997 Fulltext): Jun 18   1994. ProQuest. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. EPub.

Shakespeare, WIlliam. “King Lear.” Great Books of the Western World Vol. 27. Ed. William G.         Clark and William A. Wright. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952. 244-283. Print.

Use of Catharsis

Posted: March 18, 2013 in NEW

Okay everyone,

I know that this is post is a little atypical, but when considering story and character development it is always good to look at the masters that helped to shape the art of drama and theater into what it is today. William Shakespeare’s catalog is a vast well of knowledge when it comes to story and character. His play, Titus Andronicus would probably be found on the shelf right next to movies like Saw if it were produced today… So it kind of does fit in here at The Horrors of The Horror Business!

Enjoy– Jim

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare can be said to be an intimate portrait of what a devastating effect revenge and dark hearts can have on family and friends. Titus is a noble General, seemingly bred for war. Upon returning to Rome from his war against the Goths he is asked to take the seat of Emperor of the great nation to which he has devoted his life. Titus is tired and years of killing has given him the desire to lead a life of leisure out of the limelight and notoriety. The tragedy is chock full of despicable deeds and unbelievable cruelties. It is in response to these events that Titus changes from a notable Roman patriot to a man ruined by hatred and controlled by his need for vengeance. William Shakespeare expertly uses catharsis to keep the audience engaged and shows a clear character progression for the protagonist that is almost predestined by Titus’ own hamartia.

Shakespeare uses catharsis to create sympathy for many of the characters in the play. Lavinia is perhaps the best example of this, as she is brutally raped, her hands are cut off, and her tongue is cut out. The events that befell Titus’ only daughter sound truly horrific, but they are effective in building sympathy for not only her character but also for Titus himself.  This works to set the stage for the rest of the tragedy and by the time the heads of his sons are returned to him along with his own discarded hand the audience simply cannot wait to see Titus take his revenge on the Emperor, Tamora, and her despicable Moorish lover, Aaron.  Tamora’s plight for revenge is also understandable, in another example of catharsis Shakespeare writes the heart wrenching “mother’s plea” to Titus to spare her eldest son from sacrifice after they are brought in as prisoners. Her pleas go unanswered and it is at this time that she vows to take revenge on the Andronici.

Titus is certainly a complex and multi-faceted character; he is a warrior, a diplomat, a political figure, and a father. For far too long he has allowed his service to Rome to take his loyalty and attention from his own family and only near the very end of his life does he realize the importance of his sons and daughters. Titus’ hamartia is at first his blind devotion to Rome and throughout the course of the story it becomes his need for revenge. Titus’ fatal flaw can be said to be his devotion to his country, by the time he realizes that he must fight back against the Emperor and his new wife, Tamora, most of his family has been killed, and his only virginal daughter raped and shamed.  If Titus was able to take action sooner further tragedy could have certainly been avoided. Titus’ need for revenge ensured that he would die the way that he lived: by the sword.

The events of Titus Andronicus do provide an emotional release for the audience after Titus achieves his revenge. The death of Titus helps to solidify the lesson of what revenge can do to a person’s heart and the blackness it can leave on the human soul. The ascension of Titus’ last son to Emperor is a bit of a payoff, but one could argue that if Titus had just taken the throne in the first place, the whole tragic situation could have been averted. The villainous Aaron is arrested, but never shown to be made accountable for his malicious and contemptuous acts throughout the course of the play.

In conclusion, William Shakespeare uses several dramatic elements to make Titus Andronicus a captivating and fast paced play. The level of brutal violence in the play helps to build catharsis with the audience and the struggle of Titus’ with his own hamartia is unique and tragic in itself. Some loose ends are kept open at the conclusion of the play, but for the most part the tragic fall of a great Roman general is brilliantly executed in this early work of the Bard. It can certainly be said that William Shakespeare expertly uses catharsis to keep the audience engaged and shows a clear character progression for the protagonist that is almost predestined by Titus’ own hamartia.