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Gothic Themes In The Fall Of The House Of Usher

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As far as the sense of gothic, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe was one of the texts that really stuck out. The story is about the narrator, Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator’s friend, Rodreick, and Rockreick’s sister, Madeline. The first conflict is when Madeline gets sick and it is a disease so bad, it’s said to be incurable. Then, she dies and Edgar Allen Poe and Rodreick bury her together. Then comes the first suggestion of the supernatural and horrifying events, “Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door! […] but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated figure.” This shows how terrifying the story is; an example of the gothic. Next, it is discovered that the house that Rodreick and Madeline live in is haunted. Edgar Allen Poe uses life-like descriptions to describe Usher’s house as it starts to fall. It’s almost described as if the house was living, like it’s an actual person. And right as the house begins to fall, Poe barely makes it out alive. This is another example of how gothic writers like Poe tend to make things overdramatic.

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In the story, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne uses gothic elements to tell the mysterious story or adventure of Young Goodman Brown. The story starts off when Brown leaves his wife, Faith, alone at his house so that he can make a journey. He travels through the spooky forest alone, “He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be, […] ‘There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree,’ said goodman Brown, to himself; and he glanced fearfully behind him, as he added, ‘What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!’” The setting of this spooky forest itself is a gothic element because of it’s horrifying elements described by Young Goodman Brown. With the exception of the setting, it is here where the first gothic element is presented . As he travels through the forest, he becomes suspicious that there might be Indians or the Devil hiding behind each of the trees. Then, out of nowhere, a random man appears who supposedly planned to meet him. Everything is normal about the man except for his mysterious staff, which has a serpent on it. The serpent is said to look so real, that it’s almost as if it is actually moving, “But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself, like a living serpent.” This is the first reference to the supernatural. It really shows the abnormal, creepy part of the story, giving it that sort of spooky kick. The depiction of the serpent on the man’s staff is a great quote to represent Hwthorne’s unique gothic writing. After this, a pious appears and reveals the man as the devil, and that she is a witch. Young Goodman Brown is constantly told that he should go to the “devil’s evil forest ceremony.” He is reluctant until he hears Faith’s voice coming from the direction of the ceremony, and he uses the man’s mysterious staff to travel there ever so quickly. At the ceremony, there is a figure on a rock surrounded by burning trees with the whole community there too. This is the supernatural as well as devil portrayed to the extreme, a very integral gothic element. The ceremony is a righteous gathering around flaming trees and a figure that is assumed to be the devil in the middle, on this glorious rock. Goodman Brown discovers that Faith is there too standing right next to him, and she is revealed by dramatically unveiling her mask. They are both pulled into the base of the ceremony by the rest of the people, and when they wake up, their whole world is changed. The community they live in is completely taken over by the devil, and Young Goodman Brown is very unhappy.

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne also portrays a great deal of gothic literature, not with a castle or the supernatural, but with the sense of evil, and a hero whose true identity is revealed by the end of the story. Georgiana is this beautiful girl who has one imperfection; the birthmark on her face. Aylmer, Georgiana’s husband, will not let Georgiana hear the end of this. Aylmer is never satisfied with Georgiana, and she just wants to make him happy. “With her whole spirit she prayed that, for a single moment she might satisfy his highest and deepest conception.” This quote demonstrates that Aylmer’s insistence on perfection is insane. He is so focused on perfection that he is never just never happy in life at all. At some point, it is important to realize that you can’t scientifically control how you feel. Aylmer wants Georgiana to get the birthmark removed, but Georgiana realizes that even if she does get her birthmark removed, it will only temporarily satisfy Aylmer. The fact of the matter is that Aylmer will never be satisfied. He will always find something to rag on Georgiana about, and there’s not much Georgiana can do about that. This shows the gothic theme of a character’s true identity being revealed at the end of the story. Aylmer is a passion-driven villain who represents evil in this story, as well as the gothic.

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Gothic Themes In The Fall Of The House Of Usher. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from
“Gothic Themes In The Fall Of The House Of Usher.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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