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Gothic Literature In America. Looks Specifically At Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart.

1259 words - 5 pages

Gothic LiteratureGothic, Romantic, and Enlightenment periods are all have differences in the way the author writes. Gothic writing however, is a major shift in how a person looks at the human race and its qualities. A dictionary definition of Gothic states that it is "an artistic style or movement of the 18th and 19th centuries inspired by and imitative of the Gothic style especially in architecture "[http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary]. My definition of Gothic writing is a style of writing popular in the late 18th century which produced stories set in lonely frightening places with ruined castles, haunted graveyards, eerie noises, and other things of this nature. Gothic literature also tries to play on paranoia and the "dark side" of the mind (evil things such as the old man's eye).Gothic literature was born in 1764 when Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto[wwnorton.com], which is considered to be the first gothic novel ever written. Many gothic writers were to come after him. Most notably, Edgar Allen Poe. Gothic literature was originally written as a reaction to the age of reason, order, and the politics of eighteenth-century England. Containing anti-Catholic sentiments and mythical aspects, Gothic literature explored the tension between what we fear and what we desire. The stories were usually set in some kind of castle or old building that showed human decay and created an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The words chosen in these novels and short stories were very descriptive, creating emotion and often, feelings of gloom and horror. Also, within the plot, some sort of ancient prophecy, along with omens, visions, and death could usually be found. The most important elements to the structure of gothic literature, however, are supernatural and unexplainable events. Supernatural and unexplainable events are very important to the plot of a gothic story. Often, they act as the backbone of the plot and much of the story rests upon them. In Edgar Allen Poe's work, they act as the coincidence drivers as well as supply some of the omens and visions, another element of gothic literature. Without the element of supernatural and unexplainable events, much of the gothic literature would not stand on its own.A good example of Gothic writing is 'The Tell-Tale Heart.". The Tell Tale Heart uses many features of a gothic horror story. From the very start of the story Poe says "will you say that I am mad" [Norton 1572]. This shows that Poe is trying to play on people's fear of the dark side of the mind and the demons associated with insanity. This shows how Poe often did not create something scary but instead he took something people were already afraid of and made it seem more real. Also, the way this quote is phrased as a question makes the character sound paranoid. The question suggests he needs encouragement on his mental state and is therefore unstable. Poe then continues to describe this madness as a 'disease,' the idea of a disease can...

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