The Purpose Of The Supernatural In Literary Works

1557 words - 6 pages

The purpose of the supernatural in Literary Works The purpose of the supernatural in literature can vary in function from story to story. The supernatural can be used to create a certain mood in writing or to enhance the dramatic effect of a story. The supernatural can also be used as the reasoning behind a story and act as the theme it centers on, creating a paranormal effect and a mystical experience for the reader.In human nature there exists a morbid desire to explore the darker side of life. As human beings we make every effort to deny our curiosity in the things that frighten us, but deep down we secretly thrive on that cool rush of fear. Despite our efforts to maintain a balance of our emotions, we are a society of people who slow down to look at traffic accidents and find excitement in violence. Fear keeps our hearts pumping and endorphins rushing; it is an emotion that reminds us of our own mortality.The authors Hawthorne, Jackson, Poe, and Gilman understand this human fascination with death and the unknown, and play upon this attraction. Their stories rely heavily on the supernatural, and our beliefs or disbeliefs in them.The story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson is built on suspense, and the fact that you are never sure exactly what is going on until the end of the story. When the climax is finally reached you realize that she is describing a senseless act of evil and violence, and no reason or purpose is ever given behind it. This story has divine undertones, as if this act may be some sort of ritual performed to please "The Gods", in hopes for a prosperous harvest. But no significant reasoning is given, which leaves the readers open to develop their own interpretation.The story is told in the third person. Jackson never gives a specific time or place that this story takes place. In fact, the story is so generalized it would be possible for it to take place in the 1900's or the present.At the time this story was written, World War II had just ended. Men were returning home to resume the work that the women had covered while they were away. This has caused some to feel that Jackson is putting down a society where men are held above women. Some also believe that she is indirectly expressing her horror of the holocaust and its senseless killing. Whichever the case may be, this definitely falls into the dark, cynical distinctiveness of these writers.Hawthorne frequently depended upon the supernatural for an integral part of his stories. Many of Hawthorne's stories take place in the Puritan society, which was heavily influenced by religion, and the belief that you were being governed from above. Hawthorne uses the supernatural (God) to display the severity of wrong actions and explain the occurrence of extraordinary event. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, a woman is ostracized and looked down upon in her community for committing adultery. This is considered an extremely severe sin, and despised by God. At the end of the novel, her...

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