Characteristics of Gothic (Dark) Romanticism • The story is set in bleak or remote settings • The plot involves macabre or violent incidents • Characters are in psychological or physical torment • A supernatural or otherworldly element is often present
Nathanial Hawthorne (1804-1864) • Descendent of on Judge Hawthorne (Salem Witch trial) • Believed evil was a dominant force in the world • Used parables and symbols to convey moral message. A parable is a simple story that teaches a moral lesson; unlike a fable, a parable uses humans instead of animals as characters.
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) • Editor and author • Themes of his stories are autobiographical: • The struggle between logic and chaos • Desire for knowledge of afterlife • Tortured narrator exploring guilt • Wrote the first detective story (“Murders in the Rue Morgue” ) in the 1840s • Poe’s primary concern was “unity of effect”; every element of a story should help create a single emotional impact.
Herman Melville (1819-1891) • One of America’s finest novelists, yet unappreciated during his lifetime. • Melville spent several years working on whaling ships and exploring the South Pacific. • His major novel, Moby Dick, is a complex novel with many layers: • The fateful voyage of a whaling ship • A bitter man’s quest for vengeance • Humanity’s relationship to the natural world and the conflict between creativity and cruelty. • Moby Dick symbolizes all that is mysterious and uncontrollable in life.
As you read “The Fall of the House of Usher”, consider the following… • What is the mood created at the beginning of the story and how is it created? • What is noteworthy about the description of Usher’s house? • Consider Usher’s personality? What does he think is the cause of his problems? • What’s the narrator’s initial reaction to his friend? • What is the nature of Usher’s art? The painting and the ballad? • Is there anything ironic about the narrator’s role? • Is there any significance to Roderick and Madeline being twins? • What is the overall theme of the story?