The Effect Of Irony In American Gothic Stories

894 words - 4 pages

Page 1English comp.June 16th 2014The Effect of Irony in American Gothic StoriesThe American gothic short stories are highly represented in the American literature. In fact, by the 19th century, Poe, Hawthorne and Faulkner were three among the most important writers using the gothic elements in their stories. Although gothic stories usually are defined by gloomy settings, grotesque, mysterious, and violent events, the use of macabre irony is also detected in these stories, such in The Fall of the House of Usher, the Young Goodman Brown and in A Rose for Emily.In his stories, Poe uses irony to satirize the genre of the horror stories. It increases tension, enhances the horror and communicates a message. In the Fall of the House of Usher, Roderick Usher calls upon the narrator to help calm his madness down, and it turns out that the narrator is taken over usher's madness. It is shown by the narrator's implication in burying Madeline alive. The narrator is viewed as the helper at first, the one who is supposed to save his friend, and the irony begins, when he becomes Usher's accomplice of Madeline's murder. The most important sense of irony in the story, is when Madeline is being buried alive, to the moment where she shows sign of resurrection. Before being buried, Madeline is described as a slow moving person, because of her 'decease'. When usher and the narrator decide to burry Madeline, she is seen with "the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile" (Poe 157), which is not the usual face expression of a dead person, as she was perhaps thinking ahead for revenge. By killing Madeline, Usher thinks he is covering up his problems, when he is not; it is just a matter of time before it gets worse for him. In fact, Madeline will have the last laugh by killing her brother. It seems like while she was buried, she became stronger; she appears more alive and mentioned in the story, while she is supposedly dead.In the story of The Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne uses irony to illustrate the hypocrisy of the puritans. In fact, he uses dramatic irony at the beginning of the story, as Goodman Brown fails to recognize the old man, described as "he of the serpent", as the devil, holding a "staff, which bore the likeness of a great black living snake" (Hawthorne 555); furthermore, he does not react when Goody Cloyse cries out loud for "the devil" (Hawthorne 556). "In his devotion, Goodman loses sight of the reality around him, and remains convinced that he can resist the evil: during the communion, he tells...

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