Gothic Literature 1800-1850
By Trevor Arteaga
· Sublime and overt use of the supernatural
· Individual characters see themselves at the mercy of forces out of their control which they do not understand
· Motif of the "double": an individual with both evil and good characteristics
· Helpless victim
· A powerful victimizer
· Victimizer fascinating his victim
· Atmosphere is mysterious, oppressive
About Gothic Literature
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, both Europe and America witnessed the rise of a new literary movement known as the gothic, or anti-transcendentalist, movement. The American gothic movement came about in reaction to the transcendentalist movement, which strongly supported the idea that everyone has both the ability and opportunity to accomplish and experience greatness. Gothic writers, however, believed that such ideas were too optimistic; they saw life as menacing and tragic, and instead created a new genre that was filled with their own beliefs of the realities of evil and an individual prone to sin and self destruction.
The Gothic creates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational, like incest, diabolism, and nameless terrors. Most of us immediately recognize the Gothic (even if we don't know the name) when we encounter it in novels, poetry, plays, movies, and TV series. For some, the prospect of safely experiencing dread or horror is thrilling and enjoyable. (The Gothic; page 1)
The Gothic writers explored the culture anxieties and fears of the expanding nation: The “dark side”. These writers addressed such trends as
-technological and scientific progress
-slavery and abolition
The Gothic writers critiqued the assumption that America stood as the moral and guiding light of the world. (The Gothic Period in American Literature; slide 7)
Famous Gothic Writers:
Nathaniel Hathorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts and died in May 19, 1864. He added the "w" to his name when he began publishing. He wrote the story THE SCARLET LETTER in 1850
Washington Irving was born April 3, 1783 and died November 28, 1859. He was an American author, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for hisshort stories "Rip Van Winkle" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820)
Edgar Allen Poe
Born January 19, 1809, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. American short-story writer, poet, critic, and editor Edgar Allan Poe's tales of mystery and horror initiated the modern detective story, and the atmosphere in his tales of horror is unrivaled in American fiction. His The Raven (1845) numbers among the best-known poems in national literature.
Edgar Allen Poe
"The Gothic." The Gothic. The Gothic, 22 Oct. 2002. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/gothic/gothic.html>.
"The Gothic Period in American Literature." The Gothic Period in American Literature. 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.slideshare.net/gswider/the-gothic-period-in-american-literature>.
"Nathaniel Hawthorne." PBS. PBS. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/hawthorne.html>.
Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.biography.com/people/edgar-allan-poe-9443160#early-life>.
"Edgar Allan Poe." Goodreads. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4624490.Edgar_Allan_Poe>.