An Introduction to Gothic Literature

The term gothic is often used to describe both art and architecture. Gothic literature has been existent since time immemorial. Gothic literature is a genre of literature that combines both romance and horror. Gothic writings are given a separate genre from the rest because of their dark themes and emotional extremes. Some of its prominent features include haunted houses, madness, perambulating skeletons and secrets. The following paragraphs will analyze the use of gothic elements in some literary works and their effects on the stories.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Alan Poe

Poe employs various gothic elements like dark imagery, violent revenge, and underground chambers. The most outstanding element of the story is being buried alive that plays well into other elements of gothic literature. While Montresor is having his revenge, he uses the wine chamber like a medieval torture chamber. The walls are covered by niter while the torches on the walls are sputtering instead of shining. This adds to the gothic mood of the story. The story has a distinguished level of emotions and there is always a woman in distress, endangered by a tyrannical king. The atmosphere of sadness and mystery created by the gothic elements is despicable. There are doom and gloom that brings a horror element in the story accompanied by supernatural experiences that are inexplicable in the real world (100-340).

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates

The story concentrates on the spiritual, intellectual and sexual malaise of contemporary American culture. It brings to light the dark aspects of the human situation. The plot is tragic and violent with incidents of incest, mutilation, rape, murder, suicide, and child abuse. The protagonists suffer from the conditions of their emotional weaknesses. She creates a character by the name Arnold who is an allegory of evil attacking innocence. The evidence supporting Arnold as an evil supernatural character is the X he uses to mark Connie that hung in the air almost visible. He has eyes like chips of glass that give him a supernatural vision. The numbers engraved in his car add up to 69. The story brings us to the supernatural world of evil (Oates 120-360).

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

This is a retrospective gothic referred by some scholars as a ghost story. The narrator’s tone is whimsical. Emily is established as an outlandish character looking bloated like a body submerged in motionless water. There is a strange smell coming from her house and she has an extremely odd relationship with her father. The picture of madness flowing in her family painted by her crazy aunt gives a hint of the gothic nature of the story. Her buying of arsenic further testifies the gothic nature of the story. The story is also tragic with Emily considered the hero. The author portrays some hatred for racism and slavery. Another gothic element is portrayed in the relationship between Emily and Homer where she is shamed, ridiculed and ostracised. She tries to stop time by killing Homer through poisoning and burying him in a macabre boudoir. The story makes the reader uncomfortable and a little fearful ( Folkner 151-700)

Conclusion

The above literary writings have similar gothic elements like fearful tones and dark imagery. The characters are Byronic heroes, lunatics, prosecuted maidens and female fatales like the three stories above illustrate. The imageries in the stories are also quite disturbing with dark graphic imagery. This brings us into the world of fiction

Works cited
Skei, Hans H, and William Faulkner. Reading Faulkners Best Short Stories. Columbia, SC: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1999. Print.
Poe, Edgar A, and Gary Kelley. The Cask of Amontillado. Mankato, Minn: Creative Education, 2008. Oates, Joyce C, and Elaine Showalter. Print
“where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1994. Print. Print.

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