American Gothic Fiction

Topics: Gothic fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, Short story Pages: 3 (808 words) Published: February 7, 2011
American Gothic Fiction
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American Gothic Fiction is a subgenre of Gothic Fiction. Elements specific to American Gothic include: rational vs irrational, puritanism, guilt, Das Unheimliche (strangeness within the familiar as defined by Sigmund Freud), abhumans, ghosts, monsters, and domestic abjection. The roots of these concepts lay in a past riddled with slavery, a fear of racial mixing (miscegenation), hostile Native American relations, their subsequent genocide, and the daunting wilderness present at the American frontier. American Gothic is often devoid of castles and objects which allude to a civilized history. Differentiating between horror and terror is important in the study of these texts. [edit] Analysis of Major Themes

The inability of many Gothic characters to overcome perversity by rational thought is quintessential American Gothic[1]. It is not uncommon for a protagonist to be sucked into the realm of madness because of his or her preference for the irrational. A tendency such as this flies in the face of higher reason and seems to mock transcendentalist thinking as outlined by "Common Sense (pamphlet)" and The Age of Reason. Also, one cannot ignore the contemporary Gothic themes of mechanism and automation that rationalism and logic lead to. Puritan imagery, particularly that of hell, acted as potent brain candy for authors like Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel HawthorneHYPERLINK \l "cite_note-A_Study_of_Hawthorne-1"[2]. The dark and nightmarish visions the Puritan culture of condemnation, reinforced by shame and guilt, created a lasting impact on the collective consciousness. Notions of predestination and original sin added to the doom and gloom of traditional Puritan values. This perspective and its underlying hold on American society ripened the blossoming of stories like "The Pit and the Pendulum", "Young Goodman Brown", and The Scarlet Letter. The...
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