Gothic literature applies to the type of story that was being developed during the Victorian era (the 19th century). Most Victorians had a taste for this type of literature and more and more writers kept starting to write in this genre. Edgar Allan Poe tapped into to other writers’ works such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Gothic was started off by people linking emotions and feelings to gothic architecture (both intact and ruined buildings). Gothic stories means those concerned with the dark side of living.
They include darkness, obsession, torture, being buried alive, life after death, brutal violence, murder, insanity, the super-natural, revenge, suspense, reincarnation and superstition. All of these are very horrible nasty and gloomy events that can happen; some are more horrible than others. Life after death is impossible and exploring this supernatural theme, is gothic itself. I am now going to talk about the story called the Black Cat. This is the story of someone who, for some reason, gets really annoyed with his cat. It says, “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me” which is a metaphor to describe how enraged he gets suddenly.
This is gothic because he believes that that an evil spirit has actually got inside him. His anger is unnecessarily violent which is also gothic. His anger results in him gouging out the cat’s eyes with a pen knife. He says, “I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity. ” I blush, I burn is alliteration and emphasises how guilty he is feeling. What is more alarming is when he says, “And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. ” Perverseness means doing something when you know its wring because it’s wrong.
This means he’s really violent, if he likes doing wrong things all the time, possibly basing his whole life around this. The narrator then goes on to hang the cat. This further brutality and torture towards the cat and he appears to have no motivation or reason for behaving like that. His personality is now extremely violent, using brutal force all the time, against a poor defenceless cat that has done nothing wrong. The cat has been killed, another gothic trait. But his motiveless actions imply that the narrator is insane which is again, gothic. This also makes us feel sympathy for the cat because it has done nothing wrong.
People in Victorian times were more superstitious than they are now. They thought cats had some mysterious powers and were sometimes connected to witches. Others thought that cats meant bad luck and were associated with being an accompanist to witches. This was also the case with Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In that play, there were 3 witches which were accompanied by a cat. Afterwards, he then sees another black cat in his apartment that looks exactly like the first cat. It says, “Fully as large as Pluto, closely resembling him in every respect but one. ” This is reincarnation which is gothic.
The cat has now come back to life but with a slightly different appearance. The cat was also missing one of its eyes, which definitely proves it has got something to do with the first cat which he killed. There is a white mark on its breast. This could mean metaphorically where its heart used to be. This horrifies and is suspense for the reader because it was supernatural force that caused this to happen. In Victorian times, there were no animal shelters or an RSPCA to care for stray animals, whereas now, there are various charities to look after cats that have been abandoned.
This is because nowadays, we see it as our duty as a society to care for animals as much as possible, more than we did in 1830. The narrator then looks closely at the markings on the cat and says, “The image of a hideous –of a ghastly thing –of the GALLOWS! ” Gallows are used to hang people on, and is marked on the cat’s breast. This is the method that the narrator killed the cat, by hanging it, so that fact and the gallows being printed on the cat are gothic because that could only be done supernaturally. The narrator describes this new cat as a “Brute Beast,” which is alliteration.
Soon after this new cat has been discovered, the cat can’t stop following him, and it irritates him so much that he goes insane as a result. This is gothic because the cat has successfully mentally tortured the narrator, so much that he goes mad as a result. Rage is building in side him and he says, “Uplifting an axe … I aimed a blow at the animal. ” This is very gothic because the narrator just blatantly aims an axe at the cat with the intention if chopping of the cat’s head. This is brutal and unnecessary violence because the cat had done nothing wrong at all – a gothic trait.
This makes the reader have even greater sympathy for the cat. But, just before the axe reaches the cat’s neck, his wife stops it, so then the narrator then kills his wife with the axe instead, it says, “She fell dead upon the spot without the a groan. ” This is gothic because she has brutally killed her wife only because she stopped him from killing the cat. It’s doubly gothic and brutal because he didn’t even give her any time to cry or justify what she had done. He just killed his own wife that he married instantly.
Another gothic thing about this is that he betrayed his wife the second he killed her. If they’re married they’re not supposed to betray each other like that. Also, in Victorian times, it was very likely for people to get hanged for murder, but today, the death penalty has been abolished for this crime. Next, he thinks about what he’s going to do with his wife’s body. One gothic theme is messing around with dead body parts. He thinks to himself, “period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire.
Destroying and burning body parts is gothic because it’s unnecessary, very disrespectful, and frightening to some people. In the end, he puts her body inside a wall. This gothic because he is torturing her dead body and is considered a very dark and disrespectful thing to do. But at the end of the story, the police come to search his house, to look for his wife. He says that he is guilty and keeps giving clues to the police as to where he hid his wife. For example, he says, “these walls were solidly put together,” to them. This is suspense which is another Gothic element.
The reader is very curious as to know; will he eventually tell the police where the body has been hidden? Will the police found the body themselves, or not? Or will something else happen? But what really happens is unexpected and thus gothic. The wall containing his wife’s body collapses and what can be seen is the cat on top of the corpse, which the police can see. The cat has now taken revenge on the narrator which is a gothic theme. The cat has helped reveal the wife’s body to the police so they can now arrest him for murder of his wife; as a consequence, shall be hanged as punishment.
This is exactly what the narrator did to the first cat. What is also gothic is that how did the cat have the intelligence to show the police the wife’s body? Cats in Victorian times were believed to have some magical powers and this cat has used his very secretly, to get revenge on the narrator. The story of the Tell-Tale Heart starts off by the narrator being obsessed with someone’s eye which is gothic. But firstly, the setting of this story is gothic because everywhere is very dark. It says, “I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out.
Closed has been used twice which is repetition to double the effect of darkness to the reader. Darkness is a gothic trait and symbolically matches the dark and evil things that are going to happen later in the story. He the goes on to describe someone and his eye and he says, “I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. ” Here is going into to detail abut an man’s eye that he’s seen which is clearly unnecessary obsession because the motivation for this is that he doesn’t like the look of his eye and nothing else. What comes next is even worse.
He says, “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. ” This is even more gothic because the narrator is now going to kill this man just because of his eye, which is really unproved and not required of him. He simply doesn’t need to kill him. The narrator is so obsessed with the man’s eye that he visit’s the man each night for seven weeks to keep checking on it. He says, “For it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. ” Evil eye is alliteration and he has no right to call the eye evil just because he doesn’t like the look of it.
Tension is also a gothic element and its building up as to what will the narrator with this man. It’s very dark, the whole of the man’s house is silent and the narrator could kill the man at any moment. The narrator carried a lantern with him to look for this man because it was 1830, but now, we have electricity and batteries, and so if it was set in the 21st century, he would probably be carrying a torch. Also, the man left his door unlocked. Nowadays, people always lock their front entrances to house because today we have more crime and burglaries then in 1830.
As the story goes on, the narrator becomes more horrific and gothic. He says to himself, “Because death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. ” This is a metaphor to show the way in which it is indefinite that the narrator is going to kill him; no matter what happens. Next the tension and suspense build up to make it more gothic, and here some action starts. He says, “So I opened it –you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily –until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider.
Here he involves the reader to tell us how obsessed and determined he is to carry this murder and says stealthily twice which is repetition, to make the effect of how carefully he’s doing this, even greater. He then makes a light shine at the man’s eye and for some reason, he hears, or he thinks he can hear the man’s heartbeat. He says, “. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. ” In this case he has repeated the word quicker and louder again to convey who badly he’s panicking.
But, how possibly can he be hearing the man’s heart beating? It can’t be a real sound that he’s hearing so he’s obsessed with the fact that it is real which is gothic (it also a sign of the narrator’s insanity, also gothic). It says this was happening at the “dead hour” in the night which is personification. He then kills the man by suffocation which is a brutal and torturous way to kill someone- very gothic until he is “stone, stone dead. ” He’s rubbing in the fact that he’s dead to the reader by using repetition. But that isn’t the end of the man’s treatment.
The narrator then goes to do things with the body parts. It says, “First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs. ” The narrator is violently destroying dead body parts and is gothic because it is associated with the dark side of human bodies and is unnecessary. Next he puts the body parts under the floorboards, which he also doesn’t need to do. Finally, at the end of the story, the reader imagines the man’s (who is now dead, so it must be imaginary) heart again. He says, “It was a low, dull, quick sound –much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton.
This is very similar to the way in which he described how he heard the man’s heart earlier in the book; it’s almost the exact same wording, so it has the gothic effect of suspense and tension to the reader by them wondering what will the narrator do this time as a result what he’s hearing. This, again, proves the reader is insane – also gothic. He’s probably so insane because of the guilt he had after killing the man for no good reason. His obsession has lead to his insanity. He’s so certain that it’s the man’s heart beating (even though it can’t be because he chopped his body up) that he admits to the police he killed them.
He says, “Dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! Here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart! ” He is so insane that he’s convinces himself the man’s still alive and because he’s now revealed to the police where the body is, he will now be hanged as punishment for murder. Hideous heart is alliteration and has been forced to admit it was pointless being obsessed with that man’s heart. This is also gothic because it could be seen as the dead man getting symbolic revenge on the narrator.
I believe this because the guilty conscience that the narrator had after killing the man, meant that he went insane, felt his heart beating which is a sign of life, and then revealing what he’s done to the police, to which he shall be hanged for. These two stories are clearly both gothic because they both involve pointless and unprovoked murder and they also involve the narrator, for some reason, both attacking people’s eyes, both of which is motivated by their insanity. In addition, the mood of the stories is very oppressive and is full of depressive events.