American Gothic in Sleepy Hollow, Ligeia and They Got a Hell of a Band

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American Gothic in Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Poe's Ligeia and Stephen King's You Know They Got a Hell of a Band

America is haunted, by headless horsemen and bloody battles, by addiction and a self gratifying obsession with immortality. America has a long-standing tradition with the gothic, and some of our most widely recognized authors, such as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King, a more recent author borrowed from popular literature, utilize it frequently if not wholly in their writing. The gothic is an intrinsic part of our national identity, inhabiting our folklore, our literature, and influencing the way in which we view our celebrities and ultimately, ourselves.

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Out of the ivory towers of the arts and sciences and down under the plebeian belly of society where our culture is most often expressed and consumed, the gothic finds its sacred home, its sanctuary, where the light of reason and acceptance are less likely to shine. In this way, America is likened to the standard hero-villain of the gothic novel, possessed of an indecent and un-redeemable past, but struggling blindly against his own darkness. Just as the narrator of Poe's "Ligeia" who fervently holds on to the image of his beloved, and is incapable of feeling anything but loss after her death, is repulsed at her return, our nation thoroughly hopes for and embraces its set of the aforementioned ideals, but secretly dreads and is horrified by, their actualization.

In Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" Icabod Crane's weakness, his flaw, is not listening to the voices of the Age of Reason that Irving embraces, but rather the foolish superstitions of the simple women folk who inhabit the quaint hamlet of Sleepy Hollow. Under the fevered influence of regional tales of a headless horseman whose apparition rides through the night, and inflamed by the accounts of witchcraft in Salem by Cotton Matter, Icabod tosses logic and reason aside and instead abandons himself to the sensuality of abject horror. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is perhaps the most widely knows pieces

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