Gothic Elements in Edgar Allen Poe\'s Writing

Edgar Allan Poe was perhaps one of the most widely read and influential writers in America’s narrative history. He was born in Boston in 1809 to a family of traveling actors. His name at birth was simply Edgar Poe, but after the early death of both of his parents, he was taken in by the Allans. Thus he obtained the adopted name of Allan which he used as a middle name. “From June 1815 until July 1820 Edgar was in England with the Allans, and from February until December 1826 he studied at the University of Virginia”. Nevertheless, he met his first and last love, Elmira Royster, while he was studying. He asked her to marry him twice, and even though he was accepted both times he never married her. His stay at the University of Virginia was cut short by his wild lifestyle, which involved a great amount of gambling. However, his life was not one of total happiness. Edgar Allan Poe was an epileptic, manic-depressive, and a neurophiliac. Perhaps his life of sorrow is what made him the great writer which everyone knows him as “He is a figure who appears once an epoch, before passing into myth”.
Edgar Allan Poe can be called a gothic writer by his unique use of medieval settings, murky atmospheres, and mysterious and violent incidents. Poe was a very talented writer with a vigorous imagination. Along with his immense writing ability and intense imagination; Poe had a seemingly boundless vocabulary. He mostly wrote poems and tales of dark and terror-causing subjects. Poe wrote many poems, and to the English language “The Raven” is one of the most recognized. He also published one novel along with the stories which he contributed to his many journals. Poe wrote sixty-eight tales during his lifetime, but only a few are known by everyone. Edgar Allan Poe’s writings still hold their uniqueness in our literature through their possessions of shady surroundings and somewhat weird characters and events.
In many of his poems Edgar Allan Poe placed the characters or events in somewhat medieval settings. His use of unique places stands out particularly in his world famous “The Raven” and also in “Ulalume”. In “The Raven” the poet is grieving the death of his lover Lenore in a chamber. Throughout the poem the narrator questions a raven which has flown into his chamber if he will ever see his lost love again. After every question that he asks, the bird simply replies “nevermore.” In “Ulalume” the poet is in a spirit-haunted woodland. Ulalume is the name of the poet’s long dead love. In the poem the poet visits the tomb of his dead lover, yet he cannot figure out what demon made him come back to the gravesite.
Poe also used medieval settings in some of his tales. “The events in the tales happen all in the same place—a remote, inaccessible surrounding—but the place each time is newly and splendidly decorated”. “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are two excellent examples of his use of giving his tales unique settings. In “The Fall of the House of Usher” the mansion appears to have a dull and mystic vapor when looked at through water. In the tale the fungi covered front of the mansion and the names of the characters give the story its unusual setting. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Montresor encaves Fortunado in a crypt to slowly die. After becoming drunk by Montresor’s wine, Fortunado finds himself in one of the tombs that hold Montresor’s ancestors. He awakens just in time to see the last of the bricks go in place to encase him in the cellar.
Edgar also used a gloomy atmosphere in a majority of his poems and tales. “The City in the Sea”, “Dream-Land”, and “A Paean” are just of few of his poems that possess his one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In “The City in the Sea” Death reins in the town. The town itself is actually founded by Death. In “Dream-Land” the land is made of lonely lakes and swamps. The land in the poem is ruled by a phantom called Night. In “A Paean” the girl’s friends are pleased that she died. The entire poem reflects on