American Gothic Literature Essay

American gothic literature became popular in the 19th century when writers started to captivate reader’s attention with stories of mystery and tragedy. This literary scheme was most effective due to it being able to compare real society in a more bizarre sense. In all great Gothic stories, the writer is proving a point on what society needs to realize. In Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” (553), Hawthorne shows the journey of a young man who is slowly being corrupted and robbed of his innocence.

In this story, Hawthorne also uses symbolism to provide mystery and hint at the meaning of the story of society’s corruptness. Although, American gothic literature was one of the first types of popular American literature, the literature was influenced by earlier gothic writers. Who started to invent gothic literature, which was developed around 1800 in Europe. These earlier writers, such as Shelly who wrote Frankenstein and other stories of tragedy and horror, influenced the American gothic writers, such as Poe and Hawthorne, to write their own renditions of gothic literature, thus birthing American gothic literature.

There are many different schemes which go into making a good work of gothic literature. First off the point of view, point of view is such a vital part to the story because the point of view helps provide mystery and foreshadowing which are both important to gothic literature. Gothic literature also interprets chaos in society mostly by exaggerating stories. In addition Gothic literature usually goes from good to bad giving the reader no dynamic character, and ultimately producing a tragedy, which creates the whirlpool where the protagonist is slowly sucked into by the antagonist.

All these schemes are all important to gothic literature and are integrated with symbolism and foreshadowing, creating mystery and allowing the reader to think of the true meaning of the story. For example in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, (149) the story is on a drastic down fall from the beginning, when the protagonist Roderick Usher, calls his friend to come over while he is sick. Roderick already starting off the story as a little mentally ill slowly starts to become more insane.

Roderick is affected by his gloomy, near destroyed house and his marriage with his own sister, which creates love and tragedy. The true climax happens towards the end when Roderick buries his sister alive purposely to avoid his marriage. His actions then resulted in the death of himself, and the fall of the house, which Poe uses to show the fall of the Usher family, thus providing the reader with a whirlpool effect, no character growth, and ultimately chaos.

This form of gothic literature was not only popular in the 19th century though. American gothic literature began to grow and is still loved by many readers today. These early writers inspired new writers such as Stephen King and many others to create their own works of gothic. In fact, many horror films provide the same schemes that these earlier writers provided. Providing the reader or viewer the same mystery and chaos Poe provided earlier on.

In conclusion American gothic literature is a prolific form which captivates many people’s attention with its view on society. With the usage of different forms of symbolism and other literary schemes enhancing the readers experience. This form of literature has been so effective, that American gothic literature still exists today, and still has the same effect it used to. Now even more so in films the type of literature truly has a way of captivating the reader’s attention by providing such a suspenseful experience.

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