CliffsNotes on Poe's Short Stories

CliffsNotes on Poe's Short Stories

CliffsNotes on Poe's Short Stories

CliffsNotes on Poe's Short Stories

Excerpt

These stories represent the highest achievements in the literary genre of the gothic horror story. By gothic, one means that the author emphasizes the grotesque, the mysterious, the desolate, the horrible, the ghostly, and, ultimately, the abject fear that can be aroused in either the reader or in the viewer. Almost everyone is familiar with such characters as Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula, two of today’s pop culture horror characters who evolve from the gothic tradition, and it is probably not an exaggeration to say that most adults in the Western world have been exposed to some type of gothic tale or ghost story. We all know that a gothic story or a ghost story will often have a setting that will be in an old, decaying mansion far out in a desolate countryside; the castle will be filled with cobwebs, strange noises, bats, and an abundance of secret panels and corridors, down which persecuted virgins might be running and screaming in terror. This is standard fare; we have either read about such places or seen them in the movies or on TV. The haunted castle is a classic setting of the gothic story. The author uses every literary trick possible to give us eerie sensations or to make us jump if we hear an unexpected noise. The shadows seem menacing in these stories, there are trap doors to swallow us up, and the underground passages are smelly, slimy, and foul — all these effects are created for one reason: to give us a sense of the ghostly and the supernatural.

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