American Gothic Literature Unit

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American Gothic Literature. Gothic literature began from the Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages.. Gothic architecture features:. Tall towers. Flying buttresses . Pointed archways. Vaulted ceilings. ID: 594501 Download Presentation

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American Gothic Literature Unit

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American Gothic Literature Unit


American Gothic Literature

Gothic literature began from the Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages.

Gothic architecture features:

Tall towers

Flying buttresses

Pointed archways

Vaulted ceilings


Very decorative, or “ornate”


Gothic Architecture


Gothic Architecture


American Gothic

Gargoyles were carvings of small, deformed creatures. They often squatted in corners and crevices of Gothic cathedrals.

Gargoyles were supposed to ward off evil spirits, but they often look more like demonic spirits, themselves.

Think of the gargoyle as the mascot for Gothic, and you will get an idea of the kind of distortion of reality that Gothic represents.


Gargoyles in Gothic Architecture


American Gothic Literature

Gothic cathedrals were later abandoned, because their pointed arches, gloomy stonework, and vaulted ceilings were not considered beautiful.

Soon, This type of architecture symbolized the unknown and the forgotten.

The ruined Gothic buildings-- with their intricate details, hidden passageways, and unexplored rooms-- made people curious of the unknown.


American Gothic Literature

When Gothic writers saw an individual, they saw the potential of evil.

These writers were peering into the darkness at the supernatural.

This Gothic tradition was established in Europe, but then American writers began to follow the trend.


Gothic Movement in America

By the 19


century, Edgar Allan Poe and other writers were using the Gothic elements in their writing.

Edgar Allan Poe was the master of the Gothic form in the United States.


Edgar Allan Poe

His stories have:Settings that feature:Dark, medieval castlesDecaying, ancient estatesCharacters that are:Male– insaneFemale– beautiful and dead (or dying)


Edgar Allan Poe

His stories have:Plots that includeMurderLive burialsPhysical and mental tortureRevenge from beyond the graveFor Poe, it was only in these situations that people revealed their true nature.


Edgar Allan Poe

Poe’s life was full of pain and loss. He wrote haunting tales in which he explored the dark side of the human mind.

He was cursed with a morbidly sensitive nature, and he made his feelings of sadness and depression the basis of his writings.

The following is a look at the life of the mysterious American writer.


Edgar Allan Poe

Poe was

born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809, one of three children born to a couple who toured the East as



he was three years old, his father had abandoned the family, and his mother had died of




and Francis Allan, took Poe to their home in Richmond, Virginia and became his foster parents. 


Edgar Allan Poe

John Allan, his stepfather, hated Edgar. He only tolerated him to please his happy wife.

John refused to give Edgar his last name, because John came from a rich family. In his eyes, Edgar wasn’t worthy enough to have the last name. That is why “Allan” is his middle name, and not his last.


1828, he was flat broke and enlisted into the army. John Allan

sent him to

West Point, but

Edgar found

the school confining and made sure he

expelled himself.


Edgar Allan Poe

When Edgar Allan Poe came home from West Point, he learned that his stepmother was sick.

She soon died of tuberculosis.

Second woman to die in Poe’s life

John Allan kicked him out of the house:

“I want you out of my house and out of my life today. If you every come back onto my property, you will be arrested on the spot.”


Edgar Allan Poe

He moved

to Baltimore to live with his

aunt, Maria



and her

five children. There,

he began writing short stories.

He fell in love with the youngest cousin, Virginia, who was 10 years-old.


1836, Poe married his

cousin, Virginia.

She was 13; Poe was 26.

They moved from Baltimore

New York City



Edgar Allan Poe

In Philadelphia, Poe was very successful. He was the editor of two magazines and was awarded a $100 prize for one of his short stories.

He was getting the recognition that he always wanted.

Soon, however, he was hit with a major tragedy: Virginia died after battling illness.

Third woman to die


Edgar Allan Poe

In the years following Virginia’s death, Poe struggled with emotional despair. His own health was declining, as well.

He moved back to Baltimore in 1849.

One day, while walking down the street, Poe collapsed and was taken to the hospital. He died a few days later.


Edgar Allan Poe’s Legacy

Why was he so morbid?

The 4 women he had loved all died in agony right in front of him.

Everything he touched turned to disaster

No successes in life

Poe was

the first to write a scary story from the point of view of

a killer


a mad


There would be no Stephen King today

if Edgar Allan Poe had never been published.


Characteristics of Gothic Literature

There is a victim who is helpless against his/her torturer.

The torturer is associated with evil.

Settings: a cathedral, haunted mansion, old house, storms, dark nights, and the woods.


Characteristics of Gothic Literature

4. The

atmosphere gives readers a sense of mystery, darkness, fear, or doom


5. Characters: demons, angels, ghosts, the Devil, magicians, villains, maniacs, vampires, werewolves, and monsters.

6. Other features: mystery, terror, madness, secrets, death, and curses



The feeling of being excited, anxious, or uncertain about what may happen.



Hints and clues that tip the reader off as to what is to come later in the story.



A contrast between what is expected and what actually happens.



The atmosphere or emotion in which an author’s attitude creates.



Describes the author’s attitude toward his material and his audience.



A direct or indirect reference to something commonly known.

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