Comparing Tension in Gothic Literature

Comparing tension between ‘The Tell Tale Heart’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and ‘The Woman in Black’

GCSE English Literature Essay

Edgar Allan Poe was a master at creating tension. His stories are and will be ever popular. His tragic trauma at the age of 2, when his dad had left and mother was dead, may have influenced his later works of morbid, and macabre stories. Also, this may be why Poe includes isolated and friendless characters in his stories. Readers of gothic literature today still crave the thrill of an entertaining and gripping story, as the author of The Woman in Black (1983) Susan Hill presents. Other people’s ideas and books inspire Hill, Edgar Allan Poe included. Her writing style is similar to Poe’s, because of her uses of gothic literature techniques, including pathetic fallacy, short sentences, and similes, which creates, tension. Similarly, Poe’s fiction stories such as The Fall of the House of Usher (1837) and The Tell Tale Heart (1848) are packed full of gothic elements such as suspense, tension, and melodrama, which is what the readers of the 19th century were craving.

Poe presents his narrators as individuals who are often portrayed as being physically and/or mentally ill, also with no name, as shown in TTH, or being an outsider in TWIB and FHU. Similarly, all the narrators seem desperate to confess to a mysterious crime or drama for which they are feeling varying levels of guilt. Also, overwrought and extreme emotions for all the characters are typical to include melodrama in all three stories.

I feel that, in TTH, the narrator is nervous and paranoid, “very dreadfully nervous” and doesn’t know the difference between the ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ and often imagines many things. He seems to be completely alone and friendless which may make others suspect that he is trying to be completely anonymous but wants people to know what he did. He is also trying to convince himself that he is not insane, “You fancy me mad. Madmen know...