themes of gothic literature in Poe's work : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

Hello! I am preparing a presentation on E.A. Poe and I need some information about gothic themes in his work. I have tried an exaustive search on the internet but I am only finding information about his life. Any information or ideas would be increadibly helpfull. Thanks so much

-- Anonymous, September 07, 2002


Well, one may be the element of irrationality: this is actually in retaliation to the Enlightenment era --- having swept all phenomenen unexplainable by science, by logic, under the carpet.

Under irrationality in, behaviour perhaps, u can branch out into obsession/monomania to a particular object or matter, excessive emotions such as extreme hatred that'll cause utmost repulsion & often than not result in revenge/murder.

And then there's also doppelganger as an inherent theme in the gothic. u'll find them in william wilson, the fall of house of usher (with Roderick as the physical and Madeline the mental), just to name a few.

idea of reincarnation can be considered if u explore ligeia, morella, the black cat and so on.

Twinkle Chua

-- Anonymous, September 08, 2002

Some of the print AND internet articles on Poe seem to have peaked. is the best with an excellent bibliography and selection of "Poe Studies" and links. Specific articles in even a good library will take a lot of research. POe's relationship to the common genre of the German Gothic in his day, the Romantic poets of Europe and new elements of an American or uniquely Poe preoccupation and style are things to examine. You can do your own by examining the definition of Gothic literature and its elements, reading examples side by side with Poe's examples. Note Poe downplays the overt manifestation of the supernatural while trying to rationalize the surging fear and mystery. Poe's personal themes are best compared to his poems, some of which are mini gothic stories as well, surprisingly restrained in imagery and supernaturalism but exploiting the roused (Gothic Romantic)emotions to the full.

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2002

I don't have an answer because i need it too . Please send me any info about this topic.

-- Anonymous, September 11, 2002

(to Murphy) why do you say that Poe tries to "rationalize the fear and mystery?" on the contrary, (in the stories), it seems like the character themselves can't account for their own behaviour. in the tell tale heart, though most would argue that it is the guilt that caused the persona to hear the heartbeat, but what if it is supernatural? the ending is, after all, left for us to interpret.

-- Anonymous, September 11, 2002


There are two different uses of the supernatural in Gothic literature: one is to affect the reader through piling on 'genuine' supernatural and shocking events; the other offers a seemingly mysterious event which puzzles the reader before offering a 'scientific' resolution. (However, in my experience these solutions are often more improbable than simply believing in ghosts!)

In either case, though, you will note that the intention is to operate on the reader's senses -- either to create fear or bewilderment (or a combination of the two).

What makes Poe different (although not unique) is that he focuses less on the events themselves than on the psychology of someone experiencing those events. Whether or not the seemingly supernatural has a rational explanation becomes far less important, because the effect on the narrator is the same. Thus, it is not interesting to ask whether the house in 'Usher' is or is not alive, since the focus is on the morbid psychologies of Usher and the narrator.

This shift from the supernatural to the psychology of the supernatural could be considered a 'rationalization' of the Gothic if you understand Poe as explaining the effect of events in terms of the mind. On the other hand, it is not a 'rationalization' since the result is to cast doubt on the Enlightenment project of producing completely rational human beings, if we are all potential Ushers, narrators of the 'Tell-tale Heart', etc.

Somewhere here is a topic just waiting to have an essay written on it...

-- Anonymous, September 12, 2002

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