Comparing Gothic Elements in Fall of the House of Usher, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ligeia, and American Sl

2650 Words 11 Pages
Comparing Gothic Elements in Fall of the House of Usher, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ligeia, and American Slave

Gothic literature has a number of conventions, including evils of horror, present of light and dark, suggestions of the supernatural, and dark and exotic localities such as castles and crumbling mansions (American). Violence in gothic literature never occurs just for the sake of violence; there is always a moral dilemma (Clarke 209). By going the extremes, a gothic author is able to accentuate a contrast allowing the author's point to be made more easily. American fiction was based on fantasy works of writers like Edgar Allan Poe. Although Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass, all used gothic devices
…show more content…
In Poe's Ligeia, the narrator is connected to Ligeia in such a way the reader is left questioning how much of his experience occurred in his mind. There is a breakdown in order on the universal level as well as their personal level, similar to the characters of Stowe and Douglass. Their characters become lost in the white society and lose their own sense of being. Poe's short stories "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "Ligeia" are both classics examples of gothic genre. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, although do not represent our image of a classic gothic story, they do use the gothic genre to represent real life events.

In both Ligeia and The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe shows the downward fall of the characters. Almost immediately in Ligeia, Poe informs the reader that the author's mind in well into this decline, "...and my memory feeble through much suffering" (p 2390). This same idea is also reflected immediately in Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. In the opening sentence, the reader is told "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," also reflecting the idea of a downward movement in the lives of the characters. In Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin the characters are in a