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In the beginning of Cabal Boone states ‘what time didn’t steal from under your nose, circumstance did’ which instantly outlines that this is a protagonist who has nothing of value, he is bereft from meaning because it has been snatched away. His love Lori had banished Boone due to his counselling sessions from Decker which were happening because of him blacking out. These things are outlined and it is during one of these sessions with Decker that he finds out he is responsible for countless murders that he doesn’t remember: that he can’t function in society. It is after this that he hears whispers of Midian. He has nothing to lose and Midian is a place for those who have nothing, which relates to Victor’s added stimulus towards his research when his mother dies in Frankenstein (1818). Both characters are victim to circumstance and so search for meaning where there isn’t any. Unlike Boone who has lost all meaning Frankenstein’s monster is a being who has been created and left without an identity, he is cast out and has to find meaning wherever he can find it. Linda Dryden comments in The Modern Gothic and Literary Doubles that ‘the literature of duality is, as its most obvious level, a literature about identity, or even lack of identity’, which shows that both circumstances of Frankenstein’s monster and Boone fit the mark of Gothic literature because even though the characters have differences they are victim to who they are. In Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde he comments ‘that man is not truly one, but truly two’ supporting Linda Dryden that it is human nature to question and keep in control of who you are, which gives reason to an average man like Boone who searches for a place he thinks he’ll belong.

Boone’s journey to Midian is intercepted when he finds out that Decker is the true murderer and has been using Boone as a scapegoat to keep killing. It is here we realise that Boone didn’t lose his identity but was forced out of it: like Victor’s creation who was forced to live, (‘cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live?’), and Hyde who was forced out of Jekyll. Decker is calm, intelligent and embodies the modern psychopath which is unlike Frankenstein’s monster and Hyde who are outwardly monstrous. These external images of the gothic are something which have changed through the years, they are now more internal and mainly focus on the physiological horrors. Linda Dryden observes that ‘The motif of human devolution occurs again and again in the Gothic, sometimes as a means of literalizing the beastliness of which humans are capable, sometimes as a means of demonstrating the cruel randomness of motiveless Nature’ It is in these motiveless acts that Decker ruins Boone’s life with his only explanation being that he likes it. Cabal was written in 1988 and Decker is a prime example on how modern gothic figures can be trusted, for example, him with his respectable position and reputation as a sane doctor. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was published more than one hundred years before Cabal and it is obvious through the monsters portrayed, yet all three texts share the idea of duality. Boon is shot down by Decker but resurrects as a walking corpse because of Midian’s whispers, he is forced into the role of living and dead: which is the same for Jekyll as it comes to the point of him no longer being able to control turning into Hyde until he is consumed. Frankenstein, too, can be put into the term of literary doubling as Linda Dryden explains that ‘Frankenstein, like god, creates a man in his own image’ showing that even though gothic literature has changed through the years these texts are relatable to each other: and Cabal proves this by adopting the theme of doubling.

The novella proceeds towards the end where Boon becomes a part of Midian and its occupants, which are referred to as the Nightbreed.  Boon accepts that he is part of the Nightbreed but, in a final encounter with Decker, shows an understanding with the idea of the monster: ‘you drove me into the hands of monsters, Decker. And I became one. Not your kind of monster. Not the soulless kind’ Barker is showing the differences between the external representation of the monster, Boone and his corpse like appearance, and Decker with his psychotic mind. It is a representation of literary doubling as Decker drove Boon to death even though he is the true monster, which supports Dr Jekyll driving himself to death with struggling with identification and Frankenstein killing his monster after forcing it into life.  Frankenstein brings his monster to life and Jekyll does the same to Hyde, and Boon seeks Midian so he doesn’t have to die. There is a constant fear of a pointless existence in these texts which is explored in finding different ways to live. In the text Literary Theory: An Anthology Freud comments on the idea of doubling by saying that ‘the “double” was originally an insurance against destruction to the ego, an “energetic denial of the power of death”’ This shows how it is human nature so stay alive and to seek something else and ignore death, which I believe Barker represents in Cabal uniquely by showing that the monster is simply internal, but still manages to make it relatable to other texts by focusing on Boon’s search for his identity. Cabal shows that it isn’t just human nature what urges you to find identity but simply being alive.

photo credit: St Pancras Cemetery via photopin (license)

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