Insanity In Gothic Literature

Oliver Wendell Homes, an American writer from the 1800s, once stated, “Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked” (quote 9). Along with torture, insanity is one of the main focuses in the Gothic movement. The movement came as an offshoot of Romanticism in the early 19th century before the beginning of the Victorian era. The Gothic form had a curious appeal in terms of weaving a beauty of the unpleasant, the horrifying, and even the grotesque (Spiro par. 1). There were many influential authors that contributed greatly to this movement, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter and Herman Melville, who wrote Redburn (Blackwell par. 1). However, the most notable author during this movement was Edgar Allan …show more content…
The term Gothicism in its literary meaning does not necessarily come from the Goths, an ancient Germanic tribe, but from the sense of Gothic as medieval (Gale par. 1). The movement is seen as a reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment. Gothic literature also shares some characteristics with Romanticism (par. 1). For example, Gothic works embraced imagination, as did Romantic literature, but was very different from other genres mainly in its focus on supernatural events. Also, the focus on the dark side of human nature showed how dark and gloomy the writer’s sight for the future was (Gale par. 1). A lot of the time, the stories and poems written during the Gothic movement had a main characteristic that made the audience think. For example, insanity, the state of being insane (Bloom’s par. 1), is a pivotal theme in gothic literature. For example, the gothic author Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses the insanity/madness theme in her story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Another characteristic used in gothic literature is torture. Torture is act or fact of inflicting very severe pain (Gale par. 1). In the story “Misery,” Stephen King uses torture as a main theme. Another gothic author, Edgar Allan Poe, used insanity in his writings by submerging himself in the overlay of dream states with reality and in the clouded reasoning and uncontrolled misrepresentation of insane protagonists (Bloom’s par. 1). Poe, one of the most famous writers during the Gothic movement, uses both of these characteristics in his short stories, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the

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