9 October 2012
American Gothic Fiction and “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe American Gothic Fiction is a subgenre of Gothic Fiction. Elements specific to American Gothic include: rational vs. irrational, puritanism, guilt, ghosts, monsters, and domestic abjection. American Gothic is often free of castles and objects which allude to a civilized history. Differentiating between horror and terror is important in the study of these texts. American Gothic fiction stemmed from Romanticism, which dealt with such emotions as awe, horror and terror, and apprehension. Modern Gothic writers such as Stephen King have credited Edgar Allan Poe with creating the mood and atmosphere that was developed into what we know now as modern horror. Edgar Allan Poe began writing in the Gothic style and used his troubled past as a sort of basis as to why his works deal with such “macabre” aspects of the human mind. Edgar Allan Poe exemplified Gothic literature and at the same time redefined the genre as a whole. Poe’s Gothic style broke from traditional Gothic themes of true horror of certain events and became more focused on the psychological aspects of the characters. Poe became intent on explore the decay of the mental status of his characters and how each often descended into pure madness. In the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator, with the first word “True!” has already confessed to murder of the old man he has spied on. Sanity, a key factor in this piece, escapes the narrator as he not only feverously tried to prove he is sane, but completely disregards the notion of his innocence. By trying to prove his sanity, he in turn incidentally proves his guilt. He also constantly refers to the old man’s “evil eye” as a separate being. He cannot stand the sight nor the mere thought of it and is determined to kill the eye. He even goes so far as to assure the reader that he has no problem with the man himself, just the eye. The...