Gothic and Macabre: An Explication Term Paper

Total Length: 1105 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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The unusual event of resurrection is a theme particularly apparent within the stories "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Ligeia." In the latter story resurrection occurs after the Lady Rowena's corpse finally resurrects itself into the form of Lady Ligeia. In the former story "resurrection" actually occurs when the Lady Madeline, after recovering from her cataleptic state, manages to escape from her tomb. In two of Poe's stories certain unusual and grotesque events occur that are unique to those tales. The story "William Wilson" contains a doppelganger theme, which is unique to it. In the story "The Masque of the Red Death" the uniquely violent and unusual event is the characters unknowingly making an unfortunate encounter with the personification of the Red Death disease while they are busily engaged in their festivities.

Bizarre forms of death are a pervasive feature in Poe's short stories. Nowhere is it more pervasive than in the story "The Masque of the Red Death." Within it all the characters die in a pitifully grotesque manner at the hands of the Red Death disease, which is characterized by its victims spontaneously spewing out blood until they die shortly thereafter.

Bizarre forms of death are apparent within several other short stories, one being "The Fall of the House of Usher." Lady Madeline, despite having "resurrected" herself, dies spasmodically in the end and in the process kills her brother by violently beating him into the ground. Since its fate is intertwined with that of its owners the Usher House eventually "dies" also by crumbling into the tarn below.

The Cask of Amontillado" is another story in which a grotesque death occurs, when Fortunato experiences a slow and agonizing death after being entombed alive near the catacombs.
The most unusual form of death is in the story "William Wilson," in which the narrator himself dies after repeatedly stabbing his double, whose death is eventually supposed to lead to his own.

The only story in which death of any form is not the inevitable end is in "Ligeia," in which the narrator's beloved first wife seems to have resurrected herself. This action reveals her defiant attitude towards the notion of dying. This defiance is apparent from the very beginning of her encounter with death, when up till her dying moments she tries to persevere and extend her life longer even by just a minute. Through her action she wanted to make it apparent that the "Conqueror Worm" could not always be successful in subduing humanity.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar a. "Ligeia." E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Oct. 23, 1999. Retrieved April 16, 2007:

http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/ligeiab.htm

Poe, Edgar a. "The cask of Amontillado." E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Nov. 22, 1998. Retrieved April 16, 2007:

http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/caska.htm

Poe, Edgar a. "The fall of the House of Usher." E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Oct. 23, 1999. Retrieved April 16, 2007:

http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/usherb.htm

Poe, Edgar a. "The masque of the Red Death." E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Sept. 19, 2000. Retrieved April 16, 2007:

http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/masqueb.htm

Poe, Edgar a. "William Wilson." E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore. Oct.23, 1999. Retrieved April 16, 2007:

http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/wilwilc.htm.....

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