Gothic Dossier Essay Sample
“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer and his poem “The Raven” was first published in 1845. The poem language is stylized, and it has a flowing musicality. There is widespread rhyming of words to bring out the musicality. An example of internal rhyme in the poem is “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door,” (Poe 77). The words napping, tapping, and rapping form a beautiful internal rhyme that brings out the musicality in the poem.
The content of the poem and settings the narrator is talking about brings out various features that characterize Gothic fiction. A supernatural atmosphere pervades the entire poem and awakens the emotions of the reader. At the beginning of the poem, the narrator is reading in his room when there is a sudden tap on his door. The turn of events is unfamiliar to the narrator. The tap on the door is followed by “the slicken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain,” (Poe 77). This is an unfamiliar phenomenon that terrifies the narrator to the core. His heart is beating furiously. He was sure there was someone tapping at his door but once he opened the door wide, there was no one there but intense darkness spread out. The resulting unfamiliar circumstances created a lot of terror in the narrator. The narrator peers deeply into the darkness for long, and he is overcome with wonder, fear, and doubt. He dreams that no human being has ever dared to dream before. He then walks back into the chamber, and all his soul is burning within him (Poe 78). This indicates that the narrator was in unfamiliar circumstances, a frightening and terrifying situation. This intense fright and terror the narrator experiences brings Gothic fiction’s feature of exploring terror and horror.
Moreover, the supernatural atmosphere brings out the feature of clashing periods of time, a concept of Gothic fiction. When the narrator flings open the shutter, he is confronted by a ghost in the form of a bird. The bird was an ancient Raven, and it had re-appeared. The ghostly bird that is named “Nevermore,” perches on the chamber door. The ominous bird had fiery eyes that burned into the bosom’s core of the narrator (Poe 79). The narrator, furthermore, says that the eyes of the bird had “all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,” (Poe 80). This episode brings out the clashing time periods. The narrator is confronted with a creature that is ancient and that existed a long time ago, and it has reappeared in the form of a ghostly bird. The Raven belongs to the past but reappears in the present leading to disturbance in the narrator’s life.
Moreover, the poem explores the fascination with Gothic fiction in relation to power and constraint. The narrator in the poem feels entrapped with the ghostly bird. The ghostly bird is all powerful while the narrator appears helpless. He proclaims to the bird “Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” (Poe 80). This paints the picture of a helpless person under the mercy of the powerful and terrifying ghostly bird. This is a depiction of extreme power differences, an aspect that is common in Gothic fiction.
The Uncanny- Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud, in the year 1919, published a paper that explored the concept of “Uncanny.” Being a psycho-analyst, he was impelled to do a thorough investigation into the subject of esthetics. The paper tackles the subject of the “uncanny,” one of the remote and neglected provinces of esthetics. Sigmund defines The “Uncanny” as anything that is related to aspects that are frightening and which arouse horror and dread. The failure to use the word in its definable sense makes the word assume a tendency of coinciding with those things that stimulate fear in people (Freud 218). In the entire paper, the German word that has been translated into the English form, ‘uncanny,’ is ‘unheimlich.’ The English term, ‘uncanny,’ is not the exact equivalent of the German one.
Sigmund examines the study of ‘uncanny’ by Jentsch. Jentsch stressed the obstacle that was presented by the reality that people vary greatly in their sensitivity to the feeling of uncanny. To unravel the meaning of the concept of ‘Uncanny,’ Sigmund proposes two paths that can be followed. The first path is finding the meanings that the word ‘uncanny’ has come to be associated with during its historical evolution. The second path is to collect the entire properties of things, persons, and sense for example experiences, impressions and situations which lead to arousal of feeling of uncanniness in us (Freud 219). Sigmund says that both paths will lead to the same outcome: the uncanny are things that are frightening which redirect back to things of the past which are familiar to us (Freud 219). Sigmund, in this paper, goes a step further to show the circumstances under which familiar things morph into the frightening and uncanny.
The German word ‘heimlich’ means ‘homely,’ thus the term ‘unheimlich’ will be the opposite and it will mean the unfamiliar. From this background, it becomes safe to conclude that ‘uncanny’ will mean unfamiliar hence frightening (Freud 219).
Moreover, Sigmund further suggests that before reviewing persons, things, situations, and impressions that arouse feelings of uncanny in a forcible form in people, the initial requirement is to examine an example. Sigmund refers to Jentsch suggestion that “In telling a story, one of the most successful devices for easily creating uncanny effects is to leave the reader in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is a human being or an automaton.” (Freud, p. 226). Sigmund also incorporates the story of “Sand-Man’ in Hoffman's Nachtstucken to explain the concept of ‘uncanny.’
In addition, Sigmund’s paper is organized in logical steps and sections. Each paragraph addresses individual aspects which make it easy to read through the paper and grasp the contents. Moreover, the essay follow a discussion format, and all definitions are provided, translations are made and works used are cited. Essentially, the paper provides a profound analysis of the ‘uncanny’ concept.
Rappaccini’s Daughter (1980)
This is a TV Movie that is 55 minutes long, and that is directed by Dezso Magyar. This movie bases its storyline on the short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne written in 1844. The cast of the movie include Kristoffer Tabori as Giovanni, Kathleen Beller starring as Beatrice, Michael Egan as Baglioni, Leonardo Cimino as Rappaccini, Antonio Rey as Emma, Madeline Willemsen as Lisabetta, Dennis Boutsikaris as Vito, and Coqui Gonzalez as the Flower Seller.
The movie is set in 18th Century Italy and it is a narration of Giovanni, a youthful scholar, who gets romantically involved with a beautiful girl entrusted with the responsibility of tending to her father poison garden. The resistance of the young lady to the poisonous plants that she tending to is bewildering. This presents a strange scenario because the common and in fact the most reasonable expectation is that the girl would be affected by poisons if she handled them unsafely. Moreover, the young girl’s (Beatrice) beauty is extremely intense and absolutely out of this earth. This strikes Giovanni, who becomes obsessed with her. The intense beauty is strange and leaves us in a world of doubt about this woman. How can she be this extremely beautiful and yet attend to poisonous plants on a daily basis? The presentation of strange phenomena that put us in a world of doubt underscores a feature of Gothic fiction.
Beatrice’s father, Dr. Rappaccini, has made her the subject of two-pronged experiment. The young woman is being dominated by her father. He prohibits her from free association and exposes her to possible poisoning by the plants in the garden. Beatrice is entrapped by her father in this garden. Surprisingly, the woman becomes poisonous, and this condition is the one Giovanni intends to rid her of. The movie tells a story of a young individual in a state of extreme danger, as a result of her father’s actions. The forced actions and entrapment is one of the Gothic features in the movie.
Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XVII (1917-1919): An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works. Ed. and Tr. James Strachey. London, Hogarth Press, 1955. 217-251. Print.
Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Raven.” The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings. Ed. David Galloway. London: Penguin, 1986. 77-80. Print.
Rappaccini's Daughter (The movie 1980)