Gothic: Poe and Hawthorne
June 13, 2011
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe are considered masters of American gothic fiction. Gothic is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Jennifer Palladino cited Herman Melville who wrote “Gothic was nothing if not new and varied; yet at the same time, there was an unexpected mental growth as well, a dimensional growth in acuity of intelligence and refinement of consciousness.” Poe wrote more of a horror genre, and Hawthorne wrote more of dark and allegorical literature. Their characters were people of a certain society, and in those times, people of certain standards would associate together. They wrote about life and their political parties and what people could expect. Poe and Hawthorne define American literature by the use of symbolism, setting, themes and characterizing.
Gothic literature was influence by gothic architecture. The story of “Masque of the Red Death,” Poe uses the castle to gives it a gothic style. Prince Prospero and his friends also welded the doors shut so no one could enter. The story is set in Prince Prospero castle, cut off from the world, which is struck by plague. Poe describes the placements of the windows, the rooms and the clock. The castle had seven rooms which represents the seven stages of life. Each of the room has a different color theme to it. Poe describes the color of each room, “The first room is blue, the second is purple, the third is green, fourth is orange, fifth is white, sixth is violet and the seventh is black with red drapes, and a clock in the center of the room that announces at the end of each hour.”
Gothic for Hawthorne wasn’t in any castle, it was in the woods. Take for instance the story of “Young Goodman Brown.” Jennifer Palladino cited Melville who wrote “Hawthorne exhibited a tale that preoccupied with biblical and teleological concerns. A gloss on Puritan New England as...