Comparing Gothic Elements in Fall of the House of Usher, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ligeia, and American Sl

Comparing Gothic Elements in Fall of the House of Usher, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ligeia, and American Sl

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Comparing Gothic Elements in Fall of the House of Usher, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ligeia, and American Slave


Gothic literature has a number of conventions, including evils of horror, present of light and dark, suggestions of the supernatural, and dark and exotic localities such as castles and crumbling mansions (American). Violence in gothic literature never occurs just for the sake of violence; there is always a moral dilemma (Clarke 209). By going the extremes, a gothic author is able to accentuate a contrast allowing the author's point to be made more easily. American fiction was based on fantasy works of writers like Edgar Allan Poe. Although Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass, all used gothic devices in their work, the question arises whether Poe's gothic techniques represented his fantasy, or did they represent his reality like they do with Stowe and Douglass. Poe's use of gothic device leads the readers into a downward fall of an insane world representing fantasy. Stowe and Douglass, on the other hand, used gothic details to reflect the reality of the lives of slaves as they struggle to climb upwards out of the descending fall of their lives.

Edgar Allan Poe is primarily known for his mastery of the gothic genre. He constantly explored subjects such as self-destruction, madness, imagination, and earned a reputation for his fascination with death, especially the death of women (Scharf). Poe uses the interplay dark and light and colors such as black, gray, white and red in order to present the downward fall of his characters rather then an upward gain in their lives. Unlike the stories of Stowe and Douglass, these colors are present to represent the upward struggle of the characters ...


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...r cause (Scharf ). All three writers depend on the gothic devices to make their narratives attention getting, but Stowe and Douglass went beyond this. They wanted their readers to know their narratives were not fantasy, but could be almost dreamlike. Poe leaves his readers questioning the sanity and desires of his fictional characters while Stowe and Douglass leave their readers astonished by the insanity of a cruel and truly indescribable world.

Works Cited

Clarke, Doug. Themes and Issues of the Gothic Genre. http://members.aol. com/franzpoet/intro.html

An American Cottage -- American Edition of Smith's Dictionary of the Bible

http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/browse.author/a.81.html

Scharf, Douglas. Edgar Allan Poe: Biographical Contexts For "The Fall of the House of Usher".
http://itech.fgcu.edu/faculty/wohlpart/alra/ PoeFall. htm#First.

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