Works by Edgar Alan Poe are the most terrifying literature pieces in romanticism style. Even though the writer is always considered the representative of romanticism, his works can be regarded as the premise for the Southern Gothic formation. The most outstanding features of Gothicism can be found in his works. The short stories written by Edgar Alan Poe contain masterfully indented elements of suspense using Gothicism in depicting death, mental madness, and supernatural elements.
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The author uses gothic concepts in developing the suspense of his works. The conflict is initially formed on the death in such works as The Raven, Annabelle Lee, and The Black Cat. The atmosphere of Poe’s works is gloomy and horrifying, including the supernatural images and mysterious furnishings. The pace changes accordingly with the development of the story. The growing tension complies with the slow pace of the narration. However, when the story comes to its denouement, the pace becomes rapid. Such a story development is inherent for Gothicism as a literary genre. Therefore, Poe uses gothic elements in developing the suspense of his stories.
The gothic elements are included in the various horrifying works by Poe. Three of the essential concepts of this genre of literature are death, the character’s madness, and supernatural images, which the author commonly uses. Thus, in the poem The Raven, the author applies the image of the gorgeous bird as a symbol of death, foreshadowing the narrator’s endless sorrow. Trying to forget Lenore, the character considers the raven as the symbol of despair. The raven’s answer “…nevermore…” can be regarded as a foreshadowing of the mental suffering of the character and the inability to forget the loved Lenore (Poe 737). And the only peace the narrator can find is the death envoy: “…raven still beguiling all my soul into smiling” (Poe 737). Thus, the supernatural image of the raven leads the character to misery and madness. In another story called The Black Cat, Poe uses the supernatural image of the cat to depict the madness of the narrator caused by the mysterious creature: “hideous beast craft seduced me into murder” (Poe 772). Even in the short poem Annabel Lee, Poe depicts the mythological images of the “…seraphs of heaven…” to illustrate the supernatural character of the mental sufferings (Poe 738). The usage of supernatural elements helps the author make the stories more appealing and convey the mental madness of the characters.
The Raven focuses on death as the central concept of the narration. Moreover, the image of this bird is often considered as the dreadful signal of death. The loss of the loved woman leads the character to despair and endless sorrow, which can be eliminated only through death. The poem Annabel Lee is also centered on the gothic element of death: “…kinsmen came and bore her away from me…” (Poe 738). Death is also an inherent concept for The Black Cat. The horrifying madness of the character leads to the death of his loved wife and pet. The subsequent growth of the tension in the story depicts the character’s path from killing the animal to killing the woman he loves: “I…buried the axe in her brain” (Poe 770). In this work, Poe highlights the concept of psychological madness, underscoring the role of the mythical creatures in ruining human life. The concept of death illustrates the gothic ideas of the ultimate despair and inability to escape the evil nature of human desires.
Thus, in the discussed above shorts stories, the author implements Gothicism in the elements of suspense. Edgar Alan Poe also includes the various supernatural images in the narration to better depict the psychological madness of the characters. Moreover, the concept of death is of the essence in the narration of each mentioned story. As a result, the works by Edgar Alan Poe contain gothic elements in suspense and address its integral components.
Edgar, Poe. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Doubleday & Company, 1984.