When the name Edgar Allen Poe is mentioned the thoughts of horror, shock, and terror come to the common readers mind. Some though, think more powerful words such as revolutionary, intellectual, or gothic. Poe’s works such as Pit And The Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, Hop-Frog, and The Fall of the House of Usher are considered to be staple works of the 19th century gothic genre. Elements of gothic writing include the number seven, madness, and ironic twists.
E.A. Poe used the number seven in his writings to express his gothic style of literature. For example, in Pit And The Pendulum when the character attempted to map his dark surroundings, he counted 52 paces before he had swooned. In reality, the room was only 25 yards in circumference. Addition tell us that 5 plus 2 equals 7 and also in reverse that 2 plus 5 equals 7. Also, in The Tell-Tale Heart the homicidal murderer had stalked his victims eye for 7 nights before killing him on the eighth night. In Hop-Frog, the king had a total of 7 councilors. Finally, in The Fall of the House of Usher, the Usher family memorial in the basement was filled with 7 tombs of dead Usher relatives. Poe’s use of the number seven is found constant through many of his short stories and other works of literature.
Madness is also a common element in Poe’s works. For instance, in Pit And The Pendulum, the character embraces a point of madness as the pendulum slowly swings toward him but eventually overcomes his madness to save himself from the pendulum. Madness is also found in The Tell-Tale Heart becomes the madness embraces the murderer of the novel as he obsesses and distresses over the eye of the old man whom he eventually destroys and dismembers it also infects the character when he is stricken with the guilt of his horrible act. Also, Hop-Frog shows signs of madness as well when Hop-Frog becomes infuriated with the King and his seven councilors behavior and through an extremely well delivered plan has them all torched to a public death. In The Fall of the House of Usher the character Madeline was embraced with the madness (insanity) after being locked in a coffin alive so that her fiancè would be disposed of by her brother. His work with gothic literature and his life as a depressed child, adult, and man has caused madness to be a common influence for in his literature.
Another frequent component in the 19th century gothic literature of Edgar Allen Poe was the use of ironic twists. The previously unmentioned Spanish Inquisition that appeared in Pit And The Pendulum and saved the imprisoned character was a prime example of an ironic and unexpected twist to the story of struggle and survival. The Tell-Tale Heart also has an ironic ending when the murderous character is plagued by hearing the thunderous beating heart of the old-man with the wicked eye forces him into admitting to his horrible crime. An ironic twist also was found in The Fall of the House of Usher. As the story comes to a close the gaping crack found in the wall of the castle eventually causes the House of Usher to come to a collapse a short while after the protagonists asks the butler if they ever thought of fixing the crack and his reply was “If the house dies sir, I die with it.” The ironic twist being that he did die along with the house at the end of the novel. Poe’s use of irony is universal throughout his various works.
The number seven, madness, and ironic twists are all elements of 19th century gothic literature that are commonly used by Edgar Allen Poe in his works which makes him one of the model authors of that specific genre. E.A. Poe was a revolutionary author of his time who based his works of terror, horror, and pain on his own life and helped add color to his empty canvas of a life by stroking the paint of his imagination to create his many masterpieces of 19th century gothic literature.
Edgar Allen Poe works such as: Hop-Frog, Pit & The Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heard, and The Fall of the House of Usher