Ambiguity of American Gothic Fiction

1765 Words Mar 19th, 2013 8 Pages
Julie Fallows 6423747
Sean Moreland
November 27, 2012
Ambiguity of American Gothic Anxieties

Since the 19h century, American Gothic fiction started to exist independently from the British type. In fact, the latter was marked by its use of fantastic, externalized and metaphysical elements as opposed to the boundaries of American Gothic fiction in which were expressed by historical, internalized, racial and psychological characteristics. (Edwards, XVII) In Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-tale heart and The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and in Charles Broken Brown’s Edgar Huntly expresses a transformation of certain gothic conventions to an American setting which are the result of 19th century
…show more content…
In many gothic fictions, Native Americans are the villains of the story, as “white American writers have projected their sense of evil upon the native inhabitants.”(Crow 137) This negative image towards this group is the reality of the 19th century anxiety of miscegenation, and the fear of wilderness. A shadowed forest, the possibility of an Indian lurking in the dark ready to attack and the unknown are features of the wilderness in which created boundaries from the civilized town to the savage forest, from consciousness and waking to unconscious and dreaming. In Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, the feeling of dread and the unknown draws itself into Brown’s mind as he journeys into the gloomy forest. Brown, like most Americans, drew negative images of Native Americans and their land of wilderness as he spoke: “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree.” (Hawthorne, 606) Moreover, when Brown reaches the witch meeting, he sees Indians or powwow priests interacting in the evil ritual with people who follow puritan beliefs. The hypocritical aspect of Goodman Brown’s community is still seen as less demonic than that of the Indians, as they are always portrayed as the “lesser-breed”. Goodman Brown attest that the natives “who had often scared their native forest with more hideous incantations than any known to English witchcraft” (Hawthorne 612).
Conveyed as demonic and adversary creatures, Indians were a common
Open Document