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Gothic Literature and Edgar Allan Poe.

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Presentation on theme: "Gothic Literature and Edgar Allan Poe."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gothic Literature and Edgar Allan Poe

2 The Gothic Tradition Began in Europe First Gothic Work:
1765 The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole Two Early Works: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)



5 Frankenstein’s Monster

6 Gothic Architecture The Gothic tradition was also reflected in architecture: vaulted ceilings, arches, stained glass windows, gargoyles

7 Notre Dame

8 The Gothic

9 Literary Connection to Gothic Architecture
"gothic" came to describe a certain type of novel, so named because all these novels seem to take place in Gothic-styled architecture -- mainly castles, mansions, and, of course, abbeys ("Gothic...").

10 Characteristics of Gothic Fiction
Mystery Horror The Grotesque Violence The Supernatural

11 Gothic Conventions Murder Death Suicide Ghosts Demons Gloomy settings
Family secrets Dungeons Curses Torture Vampires Spirits Castles Tombs Terror

12 A few more gothic conventions
Damsel in distress (frequently faints in horror) Secret corridors, passageways, or rooms Ancestral curses Ruined castles with graveyards nearby Priests and monks Sleep, dream, death-like states

13 Metonymy of gloom and terror
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.

14 Note the following metonymies that suggest mystery, danger, or the supernatural
wind, especially howling sighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds rain, especially blowing clanking chains doors grating on rusty hinges gusts of wind blowing out lights footsteps approaching doors suddenly slamming shut lights in abandoned rooms crazed laughter characters trapped in a room baying of distant dogs (or wolves?) ruins of buildings thunder and lightning

15 Importance of Setting The setting is greatly influential in Gothic novels. It not only evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of its world. The decaying, ruined scenery implies that at one time there was a thriving world. At one time the abbey, castle, or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. Now, all that lasts is the decaying shell of a once thriving dwelling.

16 Archetypal Characters
The Gothic hero becomes a sort of archetype as we find that there is a pattern to his characterization. There is always the protagonist, usually isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily. Then there is the villain, who is the epitome of evil, either by his (usually a man) own fall from grace, or by some implicit malevolence. The Wanderer, found in many Gothic tales, is the epitome of isolation as he wanders the earth in perpetual exile, usually a form of divine punishment.

17 Basic Plot Structure for a Gothic Novel
Action in the Gothic novel tends to take place at night, or at least in a claustrophobic, sunless environment. ascent (up a mountain high staircase); descent (into a dungeon, cave, underground chambers or labyrinth) or falling off a precipice; secret passage; hidden doors; the pursued maiden and the threat or abduction; physical decay, skulls, cemeteries, and other images of death; ghosts; revenge; family curse; blood and gore; torture; the Doppelganger (evil twin or double); demonic possession; masking/shape-changing; black magic; madness.

18 Gothic Writers Edgar Allan Poe Anne Rice Joyce Carol Oates
Stephen King Stephenie Meyer Twilight Series


20 Edgar Allan Poe His biography is often distorted
His life was filled with personal tragedy and professional failure Poe drank to escape this failure but had a low tolerance for alcohol Numerous women whom he loved died, most from tuberculosis His true love, his wife Virginia died from tuberculosis; Poe watched her slowly die for five years

21 The death of a beautiful woman was a common topic of his works because he had experienced such loss himself, including his stepmother, his childhood love, and his wife

22 Poe’s professional life was full of failure
His greatest success was “The Raven,” which brought him fame, but earned him only $14.00 Poe wrote many short stories simply for the money; ironically he is most famous for these stories He saw himself as a poet, but could not make a living from writing poetry

23 He is the most important American poet before Walt Whitman
Poe was also an important literary critic (he was known as the “tomahawk man” for his often brutal criticism) He is credited with the invention of the detective story (these stories provided Poe with the order & logic that was lacking in his own life)

24 Poe Poe can be considered the father of the modern horror story, influencing writers such as Stephen King and Anne Rice


26 Poe explored the dark and often irrational side of the human mind (Hawthorne explored the dark side of the human heart) His stories often are filled with a sense of anxiety & have a dreamlike quality

27 Master of the Short Story
Along with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe perfected the modern short story Poe stressed a single dominant effect in his short stories The Premature Burial

28 Poe After the death of his wife, Poe went insane, desperately trying to find someone to take her place His death remains a mystery; his final words were, “God help my poor soul.”

29 Poe’s characters are often tortured by guilt
Poe saw women as angelic figures: “Women have been angels of mercy to me.” Poe’s characters are often tortured by guilt Poe’s stories are quite modern in their psychoanalytical components Like many of his characters, Poe was caught between Rationality & irrationality Order & chaos

30 “The Tell-Tale Heart” “TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.“

31 “The Black Cat” FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not --and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul.


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