Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

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Since the conception of Gothic literature in the Victorian era, this genre bas maintained a stunning popularity. A key reasons of this lasting popularity of Gothic literature lies in the effectiveness with which Gothic fictions elicit the ever-present fear in the human mind by exposing the readers to a myriad of horror-evoking elements, either with a Gothic twist or in their unveiled forms (Hudson). Among these elements, the loss of freedom is a prominent theme that exist in many Gothic fictions. Like many other themes from Gothic literature, the theme of entrapment is presented in many forms, including the most evident form that is physical confinement, the subtler mental seclusion, and the narrative entrapment, a form of entrapment based on not the stories, but the voices of the narrators and the ways the narratees are perceived. Narrative entrapment arises when the readers' perception of a character is hindered or rendered incomplete by the biased observation of a less-than-omniscient external observer, in this case, the narrator. In both "Olalla" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe, there exist characters who are ensnared in all three forms of entrapment. However, even under similar duress, the said characters' motivations and the causes of their predicaments differ fundamentally. In "Olalla", with her personality fragmented by her emotional turmoils, Olalla chooses self-seclusion as a sacrifice, whereas in "The Fall of the House of Usher", Madeline is imprisoned through forceful entombment and complete removal of characterization. Characters from both "Olalla" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" suffer various forms of physical confinements as results of the burden of ancestral... ... middle of paper ... ...course limits her emotional freedom by obscuring her emotions from the readers. However, a more comprehensive conclusion is that all three forms of entrapment co-exist independently, with the physical and emotional entrapment being based on the plot of the story whereas the narrative entrapment being based on the texuality, and enhance each other in their interactions to create a theme of entrapment in both stories. Works Cited Hudson, Nicholas. "What is 'Gothic'." Approaches to Literature. University of British Columbia. Buchanan A, Vancouver, BC. 9 Sept. 2013. Lecture. Poe, Edgar A. "The Fall of the House of Usher." The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales. Ed. Chris Baldick. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 85-101. Print. Stevenson, Robert L. "Olalla." The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales. Ed. Chris Baldick. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 183-217. Print.

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