Edgar Allen Poe: Masque of the Red Death

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, Gothic fiction, The Fall of the House of Usher Pages: 4 (1695 words) Published: May 19, 2013
In his writing Edgar Allen Poe creates a particularly American Gothic sensibility. Discuss with reference to “The Fall of the House of Usher”.

For one to indentify Edgar Allen Poe’s creation of an American Gothic sensibility in the short story “The Usher” relate one must examine closely some feature which are associated with the genre o f American Gothic literature. I have chosen two particular topics to examine, and these are the atmosphere of gloom and darkness crafted throughout the story, and also the idea of symbolism and allegorical meaning within that is, a sense of double meaning. The atmosphere created in the poem is typical not only to American gothic writings, but to European writings also, however the second point, that of the use of allegory, is siad to be more particularly American. I will also include reference to other techniques used in the story used to create this Gothic consciousness in this essay. An atmosphere of mystery and gloom is a central gothic element in the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”. According to Anita Vickers in the book “A New Nation”, American gothic literature is laden with conventions such as “oppressive gloom, the underlying horror or dread of the protagonist of narrator” and a feeling of “uncertain doom” (Vickers, 2002, 163). Vickers goes on to say that these conventions are employed to create an atmosphere of “suspense, mystery, fearful apprehension and strangeness” (Ibid). These elements are most definitely present in “the Fall of the House of Usher”. A sense of gloom is potent from the outset of the story, with the initial introductory lines enshrouding the reader in a envelope of dreariness and uncertainty, “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” (Poe, ...). The setting is, from the outset, conveyed as being...

Bibliography: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Criticism. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tales. Ed. James McIntosh. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 1987.
Google Books. http://books.google.ie/books?id=DMe7mGLtpt0C&dq=poe+the+house+of+usher&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-xyXUKSgEJSShgeq-YHgAw&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAg
Literature Learning Guides. The Masque of the Red Death [online]. Available from: http://www.shmoop.com/masque-of-the-red-death [Accessed 19 November 2010]
The Edgar Allan Poe Society Of Baltimore. The Philosophy Of Composition; Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Twice Told Tales[online]. Available from: http://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/philcomp.htm
The Online Books Page. Nathaniel Hawthorn [online]. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/2005021584955/111.eldrichpress.org/nh/nhpoe/html
Poe, Edgar Allan. “Masque of the Red Death”. 50 Great Short Stories. Ed. Milton Crane. New York: Bantam Dell, 2005.
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