The Dark Side of Poe
During a life marked by pain and loss, Edgar Allen Poe wrote haunting tales in which he explored the dark side of the human mind. For Pow, it was only extreme conditions in which people revealed their true nature. His short stories leave readers with a sense of uneasiness. The settings of his stories, characters in the stories, and the plot all relate to his insane use of gothic elements. The Gothic dimensions of Poe’s fictional world offered him a way to explore the human mind, and peer into the darkness of the supernatural.
Primarily, Poe creates the single effect of an eerie and ghostly atmosphere by emphasizing physical aspects of various structures. The setting should take place near or in some sort of decaying, or medieval estate. It should also seem gloomy, with rain and storms. For example, in the story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “during the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country and the length I found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher(1).” By creating this eerie atmosphere Poe removes the reader from his or her everyday environment. In the story the location is never directly mentioned. The tone or feeling of the story should be mysterious resulting in suspense or fear. More mystery is better for the setting. Often in gothic stories, the gothic characters seem to possess some sort of psychic communication. Poe’s characters in “The Fall of the House of Usher” comprise of a male, who is most likely insane, and a female who is beautiful, dead, or dying. We see communication between Roderick and his twin sister, but never between the narrator and Usher. This makes the narrator a questionable character. For example, “It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his earnest desire to see me, and...
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