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Contents...1 Introduction 2 Gothic tradition, Fiction and Victorian Gothic3 Gothic elements............................................................................4 Edgar Allan Poe...8 The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat..10 William Wilson...13 The Fall of the House of Usher.15 The Cask of Amontillado..16 Bibliography...17

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty. (Edgar Allan Poe) The antecedents of choosing this particular topic go back far in the past. The first time I came into contact with Edgar Allan Poe at the Hungarian class, when we learned about Poes The Masque of The Red Death. That novel drew my attention to Poes literature and due to it I bought my first book in English: Spirits of The Death: Tales and Poems, by Edgar Allan Poe. At first it seemed hard to understand the language and also to read between the lines, but as I continued to dig myself in into Poes world I realized that it is not that kind of horror that I was used to. In this paper I wanted to put in spotlight the gothic genre and Poes writings related to it, revealing recurring elements and components of this genre. Firstly I will present the gothic tradition and fiction, step by step getting closer to some of Poes most famous gothic novels. The paper also contains informations about Poes life and career. Both gothic and horror have taken interesting forms during the years. Both genres have evolved entire spectacular cultures of their own. The gothic movement has come into a new existence in todays society, and while some may find the movement disturbing and horrific, others find it beautiful and transcendent.

Gothic tradition, Fiction and Victorian Gothic

Gothic fiction is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. The gothic novel, distinctive for its fascination with the horrible, the repellent, the grotesque and the supernatural, in combination with many of the characteristics of the Romantic novel, was (and still is) seen by some critics as a sub-genre of Romanticism. How did this literary form come to be called Gothic? The connection is in the emphasis on emotion. Gothic art and architecture was intended to have a magical or preternatural effect on the viewer, evoking a sense of awe, terror, vulnerability. The Gothic building, old, unfamiliar, mysterious was the perfect setting for a story intended to terrify or otherwise overwhelm the reader. The point was to remove the reader from the ordinary, everyday world of the normal and the familiar. The Gothic world is the fallen world, the vision of fallen man, living in fear and alienation. Gothic heroes and heroines are on their own, stumbling alone, obliged to find their own solutions or go under. As a genre it is generally believed to be invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel: The Castle of Otranto. This novel set the standard for all other gothic novels to follow. Other canonical texts include Vathek by William Beckford, The Monk by Matthews Lewis and Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. Psychologically the gothic novel is generally understood to serve a fundamental human need, partly what Virginia Woolf called the strange human need for feeling afraid. Storytelling throughout the ages has served two important functions: to create a communal, emotional experience in the listeners and to impart strong moral lessons in an entertaining format. Gothic fiction contains the tradition in a literary form.

Gothic elements
A gothic novel can be identified by knowing the elements which it consists of: 1. Setting in a castle. The action takes place in and around an old castle, sometimes seemingly abandoned, sometimes occupied. The castle often contains secret passages, trap doors, secret rooms, dark or hidden staircases, and possibly ruined sections. The castle may be near or connected to caves, which lend their own haunting flavor with their branchings, claustrophobia, and mystery. (Translated into modern filmmaking, the setting might be in an old house or mansion--or even a new house--where unusual camera angles, sustained close ups during movement, and darkness or shadows create the same sense of claustrophobia and entrapment.) 2. An atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The work is pervaded by a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown. Often the plot itself is built around a mystery, such as unknown parentage, a disappearance, or some other inexplicable event. Elements 3, 4, and 5 below contribute to this atmosphere. (Again, in modern filmmaking, the inexplicable events are often murders.) 3. An ancient prophecy is connected with the castle or its inhabitants (either former or present). The prophecy is usually obscure, partial, or confusing. "What could it mean?" In more watered down modern examples, this may amount to merely a legend: "It's said that the ghost of old man Krebs still wanders these halls." 4. Omens, portents, visions. A character may have a disturbing dream vision, or some phenomenon may be seen as a portent of coming events. For example, if the statue of the lord of the manor falls over, it may portend his death. In modern fiction, a character might see something (a shadowy figure stabbing another shadowy figure) and think that it was a dream. This might be thought of as an "imitation vision." 5. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events. Dramatic, amazing events occur, such as ghosts or giants walking, or inanimate objects (such as a suit of armor or painting) coming to life. In some works, the events are ultimately given a natural explanation, while in others the events are truly supernatural.

6. High, even overwrought emotion. The narration may be highly sentimental, and the characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, and especially, terror. Characters suffer from raw nerves and a feeling of impending doom. Crying and emotional speeches are frequent. Breathlessness and panic are common. In the filmed gothic, screaming is common. 7. Women in distress. As an appeal to the pathos and sympathy of the reader, the female characters often face events that leave them fainting, terrified, screaming, and/or sobbing. A lonely, pensive, and oppressed heroine is often the central figure of the novel, so her sufferings are even more pronounced and the focus of attention. The women suffer all the more because they are often abandoned, left alone (either on purpose or by accident), and have no protector at times. 8. Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male. One or more male characters has the power, as king, lord of the manor, father, or guardian, to demand that one or more of the female characters do something intolerable. The woman may be commanded to marry someone she does not love (it may even be the powerful male himself), or commit a crime. 9. The metonymy of gloom and horror. Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow). For example, the film industry likes to use metonymy as a quick shorthand, so we often notice that it is raining in funeral scenes. Note that the following metonymies for "doom and gloom" all suggest some element of mystery, danger, or the supernatural.

wind, especially howling doors grating on rusty hinges footsteps approaching lights in abandoned rooms characters trapped in a room ruins of buildings thunder and lightning

rain, especially blowing sighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds clanking chains gusts of wind blowing out lights doors suddenly slamming shut baying of distant dogs (or wolves?) crazed laughter

10. The vocabulary of the gothic. The constant use of the appropriate vocabulary set creates the atmosphere of the gothic.


diabolical, enchantment, ghost, goblins, haunted, infernal, magic, magician, miracle, necromancer, omens, ominous, portent, preternatural, prodigy, prophecy, secret, sorcerer, spectre, spirits, strangeness, talisman, vision

Fear, afflicted, affliction, agony, anguish, apprehensions, Terror, or apprehensive, commiseration, concern, despair, dismal, Sorrow dismay, dread, dreaded, dreading, fearing, frantic, fright, frightened, grief, hopeless, horrid, horror, lamentable, melancholy, miserable, mournfully, panic, sadly, scared, shrieks, sorrow, sympathy, tears, terrible, terrified, terror, unhappy, wretched Surprise Haste alarm, amazement, astonished, astonishment, shocking, staring, surprise, surprised, thunderstruck, wonder anxious, breathless, flight, frantic, hastened, hastily, impatience, impatient, impatiently, impetuosity, precipitately, running, sudden, suddenly anger, angrily, choler, enraged, furious, fury, incense, incensed, provoked, rage, raving, resentment, temper, wrath, wrathful, wrathfully enormous, gigantic, giant, large, tremendous, vast



Elements of Romance In addition to the standard gothic machinery above, many gothic novels contain elements of romance as well. Elements of romance include these: 1. Powerful love. Heart stirring, often sudden, emotions create a life or death commitment. Many times this love is the first the character has felt with this overwhelming power. 2. Uncertainty of reciprocation. What is the beloved thinking? Is the lover's love returned or not? 3. Unreturned love. Someone loves in vain (at least temporarily). Later, the love may be returned.

4. Tension between true love and father's control, disapproval, or choice. Most often, the father of the woman disapproves of the man she loves. 5. Lovers parted. Some obstacle arises and separates the lovers, geographically or in some other way. One of the lovers is banished, arrested, forced to flee, locked in a dungeon, or sometimes, disappears without explanation. Or, an explanation may be given (by the person opposing the lovers' being together) that later turns out to be false. 6. Illicit love or lust threatens the virtuous one. The young woman becomes a target of some evil man's desires and schemes. 7. Rival lovers or multiple suitors. One of the lovers (or even both) can have more than one person vying for affection.

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first wellknown American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone. He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; his parents died when he was young. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. After spending a short period at the University of Virginia and briefly attempting a military career, Poe parted ways with the Allans. Poe's publishing career began humbly, with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move between several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents. Poe and his works influenced literature in the United States and around the world, as well as in specialized fields, such as cosmology and cryptography. Poe and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. Genres Poe's best known fiction works are Gothic, a genre he followed to appease the public taste. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death,

including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism, which Poe strongly disliked. He referred to followers of the movement as "Frogpondians" after the pond on Boston Common and ridiculed their writings as "metaphor-run", lapsing into "obscurity for obscurity's sake" or "mysticism for mysticism's sake." Beyond horror, Poe also wrote satires, humor tales, and hoaxes. For comic effect, he used irony and ludicrous extravagance, often in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity. In fact, "Metzengerstein", the first story that Poe is known to have published, and his first foray into horror, was originally intended as a burlesque satirizing the popular genre. Poe also reinvented science fiction, responding in his writing to emerging technologies such as hot air balloons in "The Balloon-Hoax". Poe wrote much of his work using themes specifically catered for mass market tastes. To that end, his fiction often included elements of popular pseudosciences such as phrenology and physiognomy.

The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat

The analyses of two tales and their comparison can offer a good basis to talk about Gothic elements. The two short stories that I have chosen by Edgar Allan Poe are The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat. These two stories in particular have many things in common related to technique, but they do have some significant differences. Firstly I would like to analyze the two tales separately, only after then compare them. Poes preoccupation with death, with madness, and with troubled human relationships all appear in The Tell-Tale Heart. The murder of the old man and its consequence, which form the center of the story, are told with clarity, a clarity which obscures the meaning of the act and questions the emotional stability of the unnamed narrator. The plot of the story concerns the murder aforethought of an old man, who is never named or described fully, by the narrator, who is also never identified. Its narration is retrospective but unlocated; the circumstances of the confession of this crime are never described. This reticence is typical for the gothic stories and helps in creating the atmosphere. The sequence of events is simple: the narrator is disturbed by the eye of an old man; he complains that one of his eyes resembled that of a vulture-a pale blue eye, with a film over it. The narrator decides to rid himself of this eye by killing the old man. This is accomplished after seven nights of creeping into the mans room in order to see if the offending eye is open. It is only on the eight night that the old man opens his eyes and the crime is committed. The same night he dismembers the body and hides it beneath the floorboards of the mans room. Soon after, three police officers arrive. Although the narrator takes pride in his calm comportment toward the officers as they stand above the hiding spot, he discerns a noise that he identifies as the heartbeat of the man. In rage and desperation, convinced that the police officers also hear the noise, he confesses to the crime. At this point the narrative abruptly ends. The story starts in medias res, in the middle of an event. The first word of the story, True! is an admission of his guilt. The story is driven not by the narrators insistence upon his innocence but by insistence of his sanity. This is self-destructive because in attempting to prove his sanity he admits he is guilty


of murder. His denial of insanity is based on his systematic actions and precision-a rational explanation for irrational behavior. He claims: Object there was none. Passion there was none, this means that he lacked motivation. Despite this, he says the idea of murder haunted me day and night. The storys final scene is a result of the narrators feelings of guilt. Like many characters in the gothic tradition, his nerves dictate his true nature. The relationship between the old man and the narrator is ambiguous. The eye may represent secrecy. Only when the eye is finally found open the murder is carried out. The focus of the story is the perverse scheme to commit the perfect crime. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events are also elements of the Gothic novel, evident in Poes The Black Cat. The use of symbols and omens in this novel is unique to the Gothic genre. The title is symbolic itself as a black cat often carries the superstitious belief that they are evil and symbolize death. The first cat was named Pluto, an allusion to the god of the dead and ruler of the underworld in Roman mythology. Both cats in the short-story are symbols of punishment for the narrator. Trough his symbolic character of the black cat, which continually punishes the narrator because of his actions, Poe has used the Gothic genre to convey one of his main purposes of exploring superstitious beliefs and omens. Pos narrator suffers from the devilish effects of alcoholism, leading him to murder his wife. When he became addicted to alcohol he became moody, more irritable. This complete loss of sense and control is often used in Gothic novels. The setting is another important Gothic convention. Plays an important role: to establish Poes idea of creating a dark, highly gothic novel, but also to emphasis the madness of his narrator and the evil actions performed. The story takes place in a house burned to the ground, a dark tavern and a cellar. This atmosphere makes the reader feel scared. The cellar is dark, gloomy, a perfect gothic setting. The dark environment convinces the reader that the narrator is insane as well as his actions and sense of accomplishment. The narrators wife is a classic gothic female, a long suffering wife who is eventually destroyed by the husband. Trough the use of Gothic devices, such as setting, omens and symbols, Poe has written a highly Gothic tale. Using the analyses written, the two tales can be compared, mentioning differences and similarities too. One of the main differences between these two stories is the way in which the reader finds out the ending of the stories. In The Black Cat the reader finds out the ending of the story in the traditional format, at the end. However, in The Tell-Tale Heart the reader knows the ending at the very beginning of the tale. Another difference in technique that Poe uses is the way that the anger is placed. In The Tell-Tale Heart the main characters anger is placed on the

direct object of which he has problem with, but in The Black Cat the main character chooses to displace his anger on to an animal. The short stories have many things in common. They both are the same types of scary twisted stories. The two stories are told in first person. A key feature is the beginning of both stories: they both open with the main character giving an update of their life. This gives the reader a quick overview of who the story is about and where they are coming from. The end of each one is twisted, Poe makes the end shocking, and both of the characters incriminate themselves. Fear is the most powerful of all the techniques Poe uses. Fear, terror or sorrow are also characteristics of the gothic genre, high emotions control the character, such as anger, sorrow, surprise and especially terror.


William Wilson
The French structuralist critic Tzvetan Todorov has divided supernatural tales into three categories: the marvelous, in which no rational explanation of the supernatural phenomena is possible; the uncanny, in which it is; and the fantastic, in which the narrative hesitates between a natural and a supernatural explanation. Todorov conceded that there are borderline works which must be categorized as fantastic-uncanny or fantastic-marvelous. Edgar Allan Poes William Wilson is such a work. The gothic elements in this story are important to the structure and creation of the theme. One important gothic element is the doppelganger (comes from German, it refers to any double or look-alike of a person), another one is the chase between the two William Wilsons. The story begins with the narrator, a man of a noble descent who calls himself William Wilson, denouncing his immoral past. After several paragraphs, Wilsons boyhood is described, which was spent in a large, rambling Elizabethan schoolhouse. The house was huge, with many paths and rooms; this setting is a gothic element, similar to the castle, which is also a gothic setting. William describes meeting another boy, who had the same name, roughly the same appearance, and who was even born on the same date: January 19 (which was also Poes birthday).The other William represented his only competition in sport and popularity. The boy gradually imitates Williams dress and talk, although he could only speak in a whisper, he imitates that whisper exactly. One night he went into the other Williams bedroom and saw that the boys face had suddenly become exactly like his own. William left the academy immediately, only to discover that his double left on the same day. William eventually attends Eton and Oxford, gradually becoming more vicious, steals money from a nobleman, seduces a married woman. At each stage, his double eventually appears, his face always covered, whispers a few words to alert others on Williams behavior, and leaves. After the last of these incidents, at a ball in Rome, William drags his double into a chamber and stabs him fatally. After he does this a large mirror suddenly seems to appear, showing mine own image, but with features all pale and dabbled in blood; apparently the dead double and the narrator feels as if he is pronouncing the words: In me didst thou exist-and in my death,se how utterly thu hast murdered thyself.


The setting of William Wilson is semi-autobiographical and relates to Poes residence in England as a boy. William Wilson clearly explores the theme of the double; this second self haunts the protagonist and leads him to insanity. This division of the self is reinforced by the narrators admission that W.W. is actually a pseudonym. The gothic elements in this story (the doppelganger and the chase) are key elements in supporting theme.


The Fall of the House of Usher

Poes intention when writing The Fall of the House of Usher was not to present a moral, lesson or truth; this work has many characteristics of Romanticism, falls into the Gothic category. Bringing up the symbols of death is a major part of this writing. All of the characters are linked to death. The tale opens with the unnamed narrator arriving at the house of his friend, Roderick Usher, having received a letter from him complaining of an illness and asking for his comfort. Ushers symptoms include hyperesthesia (extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smells and tastes), hypochondria (excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness) and anxiety. It is revealed that Ushers twin sister, Madeline, is also ill and falls into cataleptic, death-like trances. Usher later informs the narrator that his sister died and insists that she be entombed for two weeks in a vault in the house before being buried. They inter her, but on the next few weeks both Usher and the narrator find themselves becoming increasingly agitated for no reason. A storm begins. Usher comes to the narrators room, which is situated directly above the vault. The narrator tries to calm Usher by reading The mad Trist, a novel involving a knight who tries to escape from a storm. When the dragon from the novel is described a sound is heard in the house. Usher becomes hysterical, and claims that the sounds are made by his sister, who was in fact alive when she was entombed, and that Usher in fact knew that. The bedroom door is then blown open to reveal Madeline standing there. She falls violently on her brother, who dies of his own terror. The narrator flees the house, he looks back while running upon the house of Usher and watches it break in two, the fragments sink into the tarn. The gothic elements in this story are: the crumbling, haunted house; feelings of fear and guilt, illness. The guilt and fear center on Roderick Usher, who suffers from an unnamed disease. The doppelganger theme appears in The Fall of the House of Usher. The reflection of the house in the torn is described in the opening paragraph. Life after death was the underlying meaning to this story.


The Cask of Amontillado

In The Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allan Poe uses gothic methods, which include macabre, suspense and mystery; and psychology, to illustrate the dark feeling in the characters, setting, plot and theme. Montresor, the possessed protagonist, presents himself as an individual who seeks revenge and the immolation of Fortunato. Fortunato, the antagonist, who has injured Montresor in many ways, unites with him in the catacombs to find the cask of Amontillado, unaware that hi is walking into a trap that will bring him to his death. As the pair progress through the catacomb, they observe the niter and cobwebs that drape the walls and the decayed bodies that surround them. When they reach the end, Montresor becomes from friend a murderer; buries Fortunato behind a wall. One method of Gothic literature that Poe uses to improve the revenge theme is the use of mystery and suspense. As Montresor and Fortunato walk through the catacombs, they notice that the walls had been lined with human remains, with this description the reader waits for the moment when Montresor accomplishes his payback. The use of psychology throughout the story also plays a role in the gothic storys topic. When Montresor advises: you are a man to be missedwe will go back; you will be ill and I cannot be responsible; so he discreetly foreshadows what will happen to Fortunato. In the last few sentences Montresor reveals that it has been 50 years since the murder, he has never been caught, and Fortunatos body still hangs from its chains, where he left it. The Cask of Amontillado contains gothic characteristics that create the perfect essence, tone and feeling to emphasize revenge.



www.wikipedia.org/EdgarAllanPoe Ann B.Tracy, The Gothic Novel 1790-1830: Plot Summaries and Index Motifs Robert Harris: Elements of the Gothic Novel (www.virtualsalt.com) The Gothic Literature Page by Franz Potter Martha Womack: Edgar Allan Poes The Fall of the House of Usher