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From the vault: If Gothic demons were leaders

Alexis Thompson

No Gothic horror novel is complete without a ghoul, monster, or vampire lurking in the dark corridors of a gloomy castle ready to pounce. Gothic literature has made spine-chilling characters such as Dracula infamous, but with their ruthless ambition and deadly determination, could these fiendish phantoms actually make good leaders? You’ll need to use your imagination with this one

Dracula 

Sharp fangs, horrid breath and when the mood takes him, likes to bite into people’s necks and drink their blood– you wouldn’t exactly say that Count Dracula is manager material. But what he lacks in social skills, he makes up in personal presence. Like every good leader – Dracula has gravitas. His physical characteristics probably have a lot to do with this – after all, you couldn’t fail to notice a man described as having ‘peculiarly arched nostrils, with a lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere’. But Dracula also has bags of charm – and we all like a charming boss right? In the novel he makes his guest, Johnathan Harker feel very welcome when he first arrives at his castle and (if we skip past the part where he tries to sink his teeth into his neck) treats him in a friendly and attentive manner, and is always the perfect host. Like every great leader, the Count is also a man of vast knowledge and has lived a life fighting battles and suffering tragedies, during which he has had to display courage and resilience – arguably two of the most important leadership qualities. His aversion to daylight is perhaps a bit of a hindrance, but many other famous leaders, such as Margaret Thatcher, claimed that they worked better through the night and she wasn’t a demon. 

Leadership potential? If you’re happy to overlook the fact that he’s a vampire, then Count Dracula could in fact make a very charming and persuasive leader. 

 

The monster of Frankenstein 

Remember looks aren’t everything, and to be a good leader, you don’t necessarily need to look like a film star – which is good news for Frankenstein’s monster. With his imposing frame, yellow eyes and skin that barely conceals his muscle tissue, people might be afraid to look him in the eye, but haven’t we all had a boss like that – especially if they’ve been up half the night trying to meet that deadline? Ironically Frankenstein’s monster would be the type of leader who, with a bit of love and acceptance, could flourish into the most caring and humane leader of all. Arguably the reason why he turned into such a brute was the fact that his creator Victor Frankenstein rejected him in the first place. In the beginning his monster was in fact a very articulate, sensitive and intelligent man, and if he’d taken the time to realise this, perhaps he too could have seen his creation’s potential? 

Leadership potential? After being neglected by his creator, Frankenstein’s monster became a bitter, mean-spirited monster. Then again, over the centuries the world has suffered at the hands of plenty of bitter, mean-spirited leaders – so perhaps the idea of having a monster as a leader is not so far-fetched after all. 

Heathcliff

The mean, moody and mysterious love interest of Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights is not exactly a monster or demon in the literal sense, but it becomes apparent as the Gothic novel progresses, that he does have the characteristics of a man possessed. He’s violent, unpredictable, and tormented and he’s relentless in his pursuit of Catherine. Being violent and unpredictable has never stopped people from becoming leaders in the past, but perhaps Heathcliff will need to tone it down a little if he wants to win the favour of the people – after all how long can you remain a leader if you don’t have the people on your side? Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown once told the press that he fancied himself as an ‘older, wiser Heathcliff’ so perhaps for a short while the idea of Heathcliff ruling the country became a reality. But is a mean and volatile man, full of bitter resentment really leadership material? Gordon Brown obviously seemed to think so, though he stipulated that unlike Heathcliff he did not ‘generally’ lose his temper. 

Leadership potential? Determined, ruthless and clearly has a chip on his shoulder – arguably all the characteristics of a modern day politician, so he shouldn’t have a problem rising to the top. Once there, if he relaxed a little and stopped taking life so seriously, he should be ok. 

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