Honors English II
15 May 2012
Portrayal of Gothicism in "The Sleeper"
Gothicism is a subgenre of Romanticism that incorporates themes of supernaturalism and the darkness of human psychology. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Sleeper" is a mysterious poem that focuses on various elements of Gothicism. In the poem, the narrator observes a phantasmagorical valley with mist, a murky lake, and a cemetery. He is searching for the tomb where his lover, Irene, lies. The narrator discovers her grave and notices that she looks very different. He hopes that Irene sleeps peacefully and that her eternal rest is not interrupted by ghosts. All the narrator can do is come by Irene's grave and mourn until he can be with her again in the afterlife. Referring to Poe's biography, Edgar Allan Poe wrote such dark pieces of literature because he was neglected during his childhood: "Allan (Edgar's guardian) never adopted the boy [Poe], and never loved him, either" (Mabbott and Perkins). Also, many of his female loved ones have died of tuberculosis, inspiring Poe to write about women full of sorrow, which is one of the main ideas in "The Sleeper". Because of a "damsel in distress", supernaturalism, and dark setting, "The Sleeper" exhibits the characteristics of Gothicism thoroughly.
Edgar Allan Poe was a very troubled child and grew up to be a disturbed man. He never had the childhood that everyone else did because his father paid absolutely no attention to him. Poe wrote very gloomy poems because of his childhood and lack thereof. Also, he had experience of death in his family way too many times. His parents died when he was only two years old, so he then lived with the Allans. Edgar's guardian had no love for him whatsoever and "Poe, for his part, took Allan's name but never wanted it" (Mabbott and Perkins). This lack of love and affection caused Poe to write about dark images and death because that was what he knew best. His horrible childhood attributed to that cause as...