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The Gothic Elements In Poe’s Short Stories And Poems

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As we know, most Gothic novels are mysterious and horrible tales which intend to chill our spine and curdle our blood, and they are always characterized by Gothic elements such as gloomy setting and supernatural beings or monsters.

Above all, the two short stories which I read are “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. ‘The Black Cat’ is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most remarkable short stories. The story centers around a black cat and the subsequent deterioration of a nameless man. The story is often linked with ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ because of the profound psychological elements these two works share; the poem I read is named “A Dream Within a Dream”.

The Black Cat is the confession of a nameless man who destroys himself, his wife, and his pets.The man is a mild and kind animal lover when he is young, but he becomes violent as he gets older, he not only hits his wife but also kicks his pets expect the black cat named Pluto. He is generous to this Pluto until one night after a day of drinking,eventually, the man hangs Pluto by the neck to a tree next to the house. After that, he finds another black cat in the neighborhood. He begins to detest the new cat and to fear it after a while. One day the cat runs into the cellar and almost trips the man on the stairs. The man picks up an ax and tries to cut the cat’s head off, but the man brings the ax down on his wife’s head when she tries to stop him. After this, the man hides the body inside a wall of the cellar. The police eventually come to search the house but find nothing. The man stops the police when they begin to leave, telling them how well the house is built. He taps on the wall of the cellar, and a being begins to howl, so the police scramble down the stairs and tear down the wall. There are the wife’s corpse and a cat on the top of it.

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‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ is the also a description of a nameless man’s murder. His motivation is neither passion nor desire for money, but rather a fear of the man’s pale blue eye. In the morning after the murder, the man behaves like everything were normal and even leads the officers all over the house without acting suspiciously. Although the policemen do not suspect a thing, the nameless man eventually shouts out: ‘Villains!’ I shrieked, ‘dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! –here, here! –it is the beating of his hideous heart!’ because of the growing noise which arises over his mind.

Poe’s writing is always characterized by the elements of Gothic such as brooding atmosphere, thrilling exploration of characters in various states of extremity, sinister, violence and insanity. The characters are always made of mystery, horror and madness, for instance, the nameless men of these two stories demonstrate how violent and insane people can become. In addition, the gloomy settings can also be found it both stories, for example, “wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph….'( The Black Cat) illustrates how decaying the setting is. What’s more, the black cat is more than just the title of the story; it is a supernatural monster which leads his owner down the path toward deterioration and insanity.

The poem ”A Dream Within a Dream” is written as a mixture of mystery, loneliness and despair. The poet uses gothic elements to create a paradox as the title itself suggests something unknown, a mystery of a complicated situation.. After researching the background of this poem, I found that the poem deals with the speaker’s troubling idea that reality is just a dream as the narrator parts from his lover at first and then struggles to accept and live with the truth. The reader gets the sense of loneliness as the poem is full of imagery with metaphorically questioning and emotional words, taking place in two different settings spread into two different stanzas with the use of rhymes and punctuation.

In conclusion, Poe’s writing always includes the elements of Gothic. Most of his short stories are fictional stories, but his poems is closer to his personal life. That’s why readers can feel more than just fear while reading his poems.

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The Gothic Elements In Poe’s Short Stories And Poems. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from
“The Gothic Elements In Poe’s Short Stories And Poems.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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