• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What makes Poe's writing Gothic?

Extracts from this document...


What makes Poe's writing Gothic? The Gothic genre is an extensive and wide ranging area of literature and as one of its leading writers Edgar Allen Poe uses many Gothic devices and elements in his stories. There are, unfortunately, too many to explore in one essay and therefore I shall concentrate on those elements with which I feel Poe actually enhances and enriches the genre. The Gothic genre is one of extremities and extravagance, whether it be gruesome horror or suspense filled terror, obsessions and madness or surroundings and scenery, every detail is described and exaggerated with great care. The damnable acts of felony, sinister darkness and shadows all add tension whilst the lust of the tyrannical males, their madness and rage and the helplessness and isolation of their female victims add emotion and evoke sympathy within the reader. Irrationality governs most of the events as dark and illogical plots unfold. Walpole's Castle of Otranto an early example of the genre shows all these features. These ideals were carried over into other forms. Grotesque and brooding art such as that of Goya flourished, along side Gothic literature, influenced by medieval sources and contemporary authors. Architecture too followed the same course. Walpole's own house Strawberry hill was a rambling mass of crenulations and towers filled, like his stories with dungeons and secret passages. However this description is an oversimplification, as the genre continued to evolve and with such a diverse range of authors it has developed many other qualities. ...read more.


What say CONSCIENCE grim, that spectre in my path?' The second William Wilson is the conscience of the first, embodied and given human form. The story explores the limits and responses of the superego, showing and exploring how in the most extreme cases it can lead to all the person's plans and schemes coming undone before their very eyes. After winning a distinct sum of money from a friend, the second Wilson bursts in exclaiming 'examine the inner lining of his cuff and the several little packages which may be found in his capacious pockets. Instantly his ruse is undone for upon examination in the lining of his sleeve 'were found all the cards essential for ecarte (the game he was playing)' and in his pockets 'facsimiles of those cards used at his sittings'. Finally in its dramatic climax it shows how when driven beyond a certain point the conscience can be physically destroyed if ignored and disobeyed for long enough: 'and thus getting him at my mercy, I plunged my sword with brute ferocity repeatedly through and through his bosom.' The story is an insight into the reactions of the mind, a great fascination of Poe and an element of the Gothic which he enhanced and developed. 'Facts in the case of M. Valdemar', another short story is interesting in that it shows an example other ways in which Poe enriches the genre. In a strange tale of Psycho-analysis and hypnosis the narrator endeavours to save a friend condemned to death through illness, by hypnotising him. ...read more.


Schools such as Oxford and Eton, Capitals and countries all over the world are mentioned at one point in the story 'scarcely had I set foot in Paris...or at Rome...at Vienna too -at Berlin -and at Moscow!' and this gives added realism as we can relate to the story, at least geographically. Also places as remote and exotic as this have the potential to be the location for almost anything however wild. Even those places which are not given names or countries are described in such detail, details perhaps drawn form personal experience, that we believe they are real. 'my earliest recollections of school was a rambling Elizabethan house, in a misty looking village of England, where were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled trees...'. Finally the story, after its tension filled murder, goes on to say that that was only the beginning of the evil William Wilson's infamous career, trying to convey the idea that the character's life does not end with the story. Personally I believe it is subtlety that Poe adds to these areas. Whilst his killings and death are explicit and overt his use of realism and psycho-analysis are not similarly thrust upon us. He does not make long and technical lectures upon the parts of the human psyche nor does he begin with protestations and exclamations of truth and reality. However with carefully woven details and remarks he is able to explore and enhance both elements of Gothicism with refinement and nuance, which is far more effective and impressive than his more flamboyant and extrovert moments of writing. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Edgar Allan Poe section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Edgar Allan Poe essays

  1. 'How are nineteenth century short stories traditional short stories?'

    The descriptions of the characters are also very limited. The families are described as on the whole poor and Madame Henri d'Hubieres is described as a young women. What tells us that they are poor families is the diet which they have, "They all lived on a meagre diet of soup, potatoes and fresh air."

  2. By comparing‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ with ‘Hop Frog’ discuss the ways in which the writersportray ...

    Both the characters are the victims of ignorance. 'The Yellow Wallpaper' shows the ignorance of society about post-natal depression and the fact that no one is prepared to accept what the narrator is suffering from. Her 'case is not serious' we are told.

  1. How Doyle and Poe represent crime in their stories

    this situation Poe could be describing the man's eye being sharp and focused like a vulture's. Although on the other hand, vultures are carnivorous, large birds of prey those feed on carcasses and are associated with death, traveling in packs.

  2. Explore the techniques used by pre-twentieth century authors to build fear and tension for ...

    Throughout, the reader is tense and fearful. Tension is built up with evocative language and sudden switches of mood and tempo. In "The Blind Man," by Kate Chopin is a confusing story. It is extremely mysterious, with perception playing a big part in what is real, and what the reader imagines.

  1. What have you found interesting about the ways in which Poe makes his murderers ...

    'I am mad?" this affects the reader by them not being able to trust what the narrator says and how it may untruthful but we wll never know this because it is the narrator who is telling the story not Poe.

  2. With reference to Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and ...

    Damsels in distress are also in Poe's story where Roderick's sister, Madeline is entombed before she has actually died. This idea is evident in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" as well, where the damsel is Sibyl Vane who dies early on in the novel however one could also say that

  1. Poe's intention when writing

    The narrator is involved in all of Roderick's emotions and problems during the course of the story. He sees Roderick's compassion for his sister during her illness. After Madeline dies he assists Roderick in the placement of her body in a steal coffin in a vault under the house.

  2. The Gothic form of writing

    are" (III: pg 138) caused by natural phenomena. Gothic writers were concerned with the mind, the causation of madness and the borderline nature of sanity and insanity. J. Porte states that Edgar Allan Poe "...designs his tales as to show his narrators limited comprehension of their own problems and states of mind".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work