As we all know, one of the standard excuses for reading (gasp) novels has always been that fiction has a Deep Moral Purpose: it enlightens us about Life, Ethics, and even the Soul. Of course, such justifications often collapse when confronted with fiction that appears to be merely Fun. Anything in the Gothic line--horror, ghost stories, crumbling castles, the random demon--can only be regarded in the light of Frivolous Entertainment, not Philosophical Enlightenment. I propose, however, that Gothic teaches us a number of useful life lessons, all of them essential to our continued well-being. Many of these lessons are remarkably pragmatic in nature. For example:
1. Never rent. Rentals are always haunted. If there have been five or more renters in the past year, there is a strong likelihood that the apartment or house is occupied by the ghost of an axe murderer or serial killer.
2. Travel is bad. Any trip away from home will bring you face-to-face with a vampire, ghoul, or flying head. Stay home and help preserve the environment (as well as your future well-being).
3. If you must travel, bring a Latin grammar. It may be necessary to conjugate obscure Latin verbs, especially when they are written on whistles.
4. Avoid fine art. Do not buy paintings, remove them from the attic, or even remain in the same room with them for any length of time. If the painting moves or appears in your dreams, it is generally advised that you relocate. Immediately.
5. Make appropriate career choices. Archaeology, for example, should always be avoided, since artifacts are usually cursed and tombs often house vampires. Art history also has a number of drawbacks (see previous item). Those contemplating a career in science should be especially cautious, since ghosts love to haunt scientists.
6. Double-check your betrothed's state of health before proceeding to the altar. In some unfortunate instances, corpses have been known to appear at weddings.
7. Insist that your realtor disclose the history of all previous residents. Avoid purchasing homes or apartments if they were previously occupied by judges, suicides, or anyone with a failed romance.
8. Do not attend college. The more degrees, the more likely you are to disbelieve in ghosts--which will result in your painful, drawn-out, and often bloody death. If you must attend college...
9. ...then always listen to the housekeeper or butler. All housekeepers' and butlers' reports about pale women walking through corridors at night, mysterious cold snaps, fountains of blood, etc. are true and should be taken seriously.
10. Do not buy old books. You will probably encounter a demon.