Method to the Madness: Boundaries, Binaries, and Burdens in the Literature of Poe and the American Gothic Open Access

Yang, April Chen (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/44558f10x?locale=en
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Abstract

Though much of the criticism of Edgar Allan Poe fixates on his own tenuous grasp on his sanity, we would be reducing a rich, fruitful body of literature to pedestrian psychoanalysis to neglect Poe's role as an orator for early 19th century American society. The concerns he expresses in his short stories convey themes of imprisonment, the omnipresent fear of death, boundaries and separation, and the binary between isolation and intimacy - themes that, though exceedingly difficult to confront, underlie our common history and humanity. Finally, Poe gives the madman, the outcast, and the victim of society a voice in his narratives and, in doing so, he compels us to realize that only by seeing the world from the vantage of the marginalized can we seek to repair and reinforce society against its inherent evils and uncontrollable external threats.

Table of Contents

Introduction...................................................................................................................1

Chapter 1: Masked Menaces and Malicious Maladies in "The Masque of the Red Death"..............14

Chapter 2: Salacious Secrets and Suspected Sentience in "The Fall of the House of Usher".........28

Chapter 3: Perceptive Pets and Perceived Perniciousness in "The Black Cat"............................47

Conclusion...................................................................................................................59

Bibliography.................................................................................................................61

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