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The Gothic Theme Of Edgar Allen Poe's Work

1474 words - 6 pages

Edgar Allen Poe was an English short-story writer whose work reflects the traditional Gothic conventions of the time that subverted the ambivalence of the grotesque and arabesque. Through thematic conventions of the Gothic genre, literary devices and his own auteur, Edgar Allan Poe’s texts are considered sublime examples of Gothic fiction. The Gothic genre within Poe’s work such as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, and The Raven, arouse the pervasive nature of the dark side of individualism and the resulting encroachment of insanity. Gothic tales are dominated by fear and terror and explore the themes of death and decay. The Gothic crosses boundaries into the realm of the unknown, arousing extremes of emotion through the catalyst of disassociation and subversion of presence. Gothic literature utilises themes of the supernatural to create a brooding setting and an atmosphere of fear.
The Gothic dimensions of Poe’s fictional world offered him a way to explore the human mind in extreme situations, and so arriving at an essential truth. The Gothic theme of the importance of the intuitive and emotional and the rejection of the rational and intellectual is prevalent throughout The Raven, The Black Cat, and The Tell-Tale Heart. This is coupled with the convention of transgressive, encroaching insanity, ubiquitous in Gothic literature. In The Tell-Tale Heart, a kind of psychological doubling is achieved by the narrator- an identification with the old man at the time of disturbing him in the middle of the night, and a psychopathic detachment, evidenced by the feeling of triumph and elation that precedes the murder in the extract “ strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror”. Hysteria is pertinent in Gothic texts, and is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. This fear is often centred on a body part, and people who are 'hysterical' often lose self-control due to overwhelming fear. This hysterical fear is symbolised within The Tell-Tale Heart through the avian enigma of the “vulture eye”, a representation of the narrator’s psychological condition. In The Black Cat, the narrator presents himself as a battleground between the forces of benevolence through emblematic ideals of affection, and the forces of evil by the causation of death and apathetic suffering. The narrator, however also strives to detach himself from moralising through the powers of reason and calculation, presenting the narrative in terms of "very natural causes and effects" instead of the latent, presumably supernatural, mishaps that refused to be acknowledged. The narrator also, through synecdoche, continues to question “How then, am I mad?”, foreshadowing inept hysteria and employs the plea of false innocence, in turn reflecting the Gothic element of encroaching insanity.
The creation of heightened emotions is a key component in Gothic literature and is respectively featured in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven,...

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