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Dark Romanticism Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville
Transcript of Dark Romanticism Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville
During the 1700 and 1800s, a movement called Romanticism reached the young America. This movement brought about an influx of good-feelings books and the like. Along with the good feelings came a series of authors who took a more realistic and depressing approach to the the movement and showed people the consequences of sin and
wrongdoing. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville quickly became the leaders of the Gothic style literature.
Themes of Gothic literature:
Gloomy or Macabre Topics
Hidden or Double Realities
Exotic and Isolated Settings or Places
Often times the narrator would have
strange events happen around them. Finding
no reasonable or rational explaination for this event,
the narrator would leave the event up to some sort of
A common setting for these stories would be ruined or abandoned castles, with old secret passages that lead to unknown places in the building.
A common setting for Gothic stories would be in a ruined or abandoned castle that held a plethora of secret passage ways for the narrator to explore.
Jan. 19th, 1809- Oct. 1, 1849
Poe is born. His parents were both a professional actors.
Edgar Allan Poe can certainly be accredited as one of the more pronounced authors of the Romantic period. Poe was one of the first American authors to become popular overseas, a major advancement to American literature ("Dark" 353). He was also a strong alcoholic and struggled with it throughout much of his life ("Edgar"). Poe had a obvious focus on horror in his poetry and writings ("Dark" 353). He is often told to be one of the authors who helped to define modern day detective novels, with having published one of the first popular mystery tales.
Edgar also is said to have influenced science fiction with his writing as well.
Poe also had a habit of putting dead or dying women in his works ("Dark" 353).
Edgar and his siblings manage to lose both of their parents; their mother due to 'consumption' or tuberculosis and their father deserted them.
The children were split up and put into
different households. Edgar got put into the home of John and Frances Allan, whose last name Poe later took as his middle name. ("Edgar")
Frances Allan treated Poe well
John Allan did not and gave Poe meager allowances.
Poe fought with Allan and moved out
Moved from Virginia to Boston
During this year, Poe also tried his hand at
selling one of his works, "Tamerlane and Other Poems." Unfortunately, this book didn't get much response from the public. ("Edgar")
The author would insert
documents, letters, or retelling of dreams in order to tell the story.
As Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick explains, a primary feature of the Gothic is that the self is “massively blocked off from something to which it ought normally to have access” (12). Thus the narrative arc of the Gothic story leads to an exposure of what was once hidden, breaking down the barrier between the surface reality and the reality beneath the surface. Often a physical barrier symbolizes a barrier to the information that provides a key to the truth or explanation of the events. Sometimes the truth is revealed through an artifact that breaches the barrier between what is known and what is unknown: a document telling a family secret, a key that opens a secret room, or even a creature imprisoned behind the wall, as in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.” Poe represents this process symbolically in “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the violent death-embrace of Madeline and Roderick Usher. An emblem of the hidden secret, Madeline, who has escaped from the tomb where she has been buried alive, totters into the room and falls dead as she clutches her brother Roderick, who by ignoring the signs that she has been buried alive and pretending a surface normality, has refused to acknowledge his culpability in burying her.
Campbell, Donna M. "Novel, Romance, and Gothic:
Brief Definitions." Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. 2009. Web. February 16, 2011.
"Edgar Allan Poe." Encyclopedia of World Biography.
Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 18 Feb. 2011
“The Dark Side of Individualism: American Gothic.” The
Language of Literature: American Literature. Evanston: McDougal Littell Inc., 1997. 352-354 Print.
Lebowitz, Alan. "Melville, Herman." Grolier
Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2011.
"Eli Whitney." Business Leader Profiles for Students. Ed. Sheila Dow and
Jaime E. Noce. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 3 Mar. 2011.
A very important person that was discovered during the period of Romanticism and Dark Romanticism was Eli Whitney. This man was the creator of both the cotton gin and interchangable parts, two huge inventions that impacted 19th century America. The cotton gin was a machine that allowed for the heavy harvesting of cotton. The other major contribution that Whitney made was the developement of interchangable parts. Before the developement, each and every gun would have to have special parts made in order to fix them. No part from one gun was the same as the other. After Whitney introduced his idea though, all guns had the same parts and could easily be fixed.
Both the cotton gin and interchangable parts had an impact on America's future. The cotton gin, by making the harvest of cotton so easy and causing the sales of slaves to boom, indirectly helped to make the Civil War almost inevitable. With his interchangable parts, he helped to make the future Northern economy based around industry, and thusly gave the North the weapon advantage when the Civil War rolled around (Bailey, 312).
At the time, slavery was still legal in America. Slaves themsevles could only clean about one pound of cotton in a day. With the invention of the cotton gin, the one pound a day shot up to fifty pounds a day.
The cotton gin, once produced and distributed, cause a giant influx in the cotton industry. By extension, the cotton gin also managed to give an extra boost to human bondage. As the need for cotton raised to a high, more and more slaves were purchased (Bailey, 310).
Bailey, Thomas A., Cohen, Lizabeth, and Kennedy, David M. The American Pageant,
11th edition.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. 310-312. Print.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was the other hand in
making and shaping American fiction literature, along side
Edgar Allan Poe. Hawthorne's tales would often focus on more
horrific plots, like Poe's works, but Nathaniel often included romance
in the story.
Hawthorne originally had the name Hathorne, until changing due to his digust
with his ancestors who were judges who convicted many during the Salem Witch
Trials in the 1600s. He used this hatred of his family's past as a fuel to go into solitude to
perfect his writing skills and make better tales, such as "The Scarlet Letter."
The stories that Hawthorne published before the novel didn't receive much response in the
public at first. It wasn't until the Whig party took over the government and fired Hawthorne,
from his job at the Salem Customs House, did he ever try to write a novel. He used his hatred of
new party control to write an essay at the beginning of the "The Scarlet Letter," and allowed the
experience to influence him ("Nathaniel").
Once "The Scarlet Letter" was published, it received a surprisingly warm welcome from the public eye.
The romantic movement taking over at the time caused the public to prefer stories that had heroics
and good feelings throughout, and "The Scarlet Letter" was a very realistic approach to the theme of
sins and crime.
Brady, Mathew B. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Database online.
American Memory. Web. March 3, 2011
Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven Society. Edgar Allan Poe. Digital image. Pics4Learning | Free Photos for Education. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. .
"Nathaniel Hawthorne." Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 3 Mar. 2011.
"Nathaniel Hawthorne." Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 3 Mar. 2011.
Herman Melville was the author of the famous book, "Moby-Dick." He was another of the many national authors that popped up during this time period and managed to make and influence on the country (Lebowitz). Herman was a sailor for a while, after his father had died and forced Melville to drop out of school and work in order to support the rest of his family. Using the experiences that he had while out at sea, Melville created stories about sea life and living with natives. His first two books, "Typee" and "Omoo," were fairly popular among the people. His third book dropped a bomb, and Herman's literary career plummeted. He decided to stop trying to be artistic with his writing and decided to just take a more straight forward approach. He published two books, purely for money, and his popularity again began to rise. At this point, Melville left his home in New York and moved to Boston, where he met and became good friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Melville then published "Moby-Dick" and had a relatively negative response from the people.
It wasn't until later that "Moby-Dick" became such a famous story, after Melville was dead.
Moby-Dick was dedicated to
At this point in time Poe published two books
and got noticed by a good critic.
For a while previously, Poe had lived with his
aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia.
He returned this year and published another book,
full of poems.
Transcendentalism was an extremely
important part of the Romantic period. The belief
of transcendentalism, or belief that there is an inner
spirituality that transcends the other senses, lead the way
to the good-feelings romantic movement. The Romantic movement spawned many inventions and developements in technology, as well as opening up a branch for art. The romantic movement also branched out into Gothic Literature and Dark Romanticism.
The telegraph was a very important invention during the Romantic
period. It was developed by Samuel Morse, and it was the very first long distance communications device. It was the first communication device that gave quick responses without the wait of horse mail. It also connected overseas countries together, and brought them closer. It opened the pathway for current communication technologies as well.
Receives a prize for
“MS. Found in a Bottle”
and got a job on the Southern
Marries his 13 year old cousin Virginia and moves to Richmond with her and Maria Clemm
Lost his job because he drank too much, despite making the magazine he worked for very popular.
Virginia falls ill with tuberculosis, the disease that
killed Poe's mother, and Poe begins drinking even more
heavily than before.
1844 - 1847
Poe struggles with jobs and tries to make
enough money to support his family, but
Virginia dies from her disease.
Poe moves back to Richmond and begins dating a childhood friend, and eventually becomes engaged. Poe went out to New York to go pick up Maria Clemm for the wedding and stopped in Baltimore on the way there. He was found on October 3rd, after being gone since September, in a stupor by a saloon. It's not known whether he got beaten or drank himself to death, but he died 4 days later in a hospital.
The Romantic period of American history is a very interesting period. Many new inventions are made, that help form the future of America. There are also many new authors and artists that spring up, inspired by the good feelings during the time. Some of the authors take a negative view of the time, and produce Gothic literature and Dark Romanticism. Overall, it is a time of change for the land, and it has a profound effect of how the future flowed.