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Compare The Ways In Which Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Withered Arm’ And Edgar Alan Poe’s ‘The Tell Tale Heart Could Be Considered Gothic Short Stories

2000 words - 8 pages

Hardy and Poe had different writing styles both of which were part of the gothic genre, even though both stories were written within the same century, 1843 ( The Tell Tale Heart) and 1888 (The Withered Arm) their own back rounds took a huge affect on what they had written and how. Hardy’s story was affected by the way in which it was published, whereas Poe had a troubled life. The traditional gothic elements are included, most of which are, superstition, darkness and a sense of insanity which creates the gothic atmosphere and the life that Alan Poe has experienced is reflected hugely throughout his poems and stories. Hardy however grew up with his parents in Dorchester and this is where all ...view middle of the document...

Sounds are described to give a sense of fear which contributes to the gothic style of writing for example the creaking of the floorboards is a traditional technique used that gives a threatening effect, ‘I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber’ the reader also knows there are shutters on the windows. There is also a bed in the room where the old man lies asleep ‘ I could see him as he lay upon the bed’ Poe doesn’t include as much detail as Hardy’s story to where the story takes place however this can contribute as a gothic element as it adds mystery to the story. In the Withered Arm Egdon could been seen as the most important character where it has an effect of everything that takes place within the story therefore decides how the people of this town are going to act. It holds ancient beliefs where little has changed in spite of the industrial revolution this has a gothic effect because makes the reader think that unfaithful actions committed by a person will cause them to be cursed which creates a dark atmosphere with fear looming and is also using the technique including a historical past.

Characters in gothic stories are usually stereotypical. There is usually a dark villain, a delicate young female victim, a wise older person who will help the victim at some point in the story, and finally somebody who represents the law. Hardy’s characters give a gothic effect however are not seen as the stereotypical people that occur in dark, horror stories. Rhoda Brooks, a milk maid is seen at first as an innocent woman who has been disowned by the father of her son, however she is an outcast compared to the rest of her peers part of Egdon Heath as she committed to having a child out of wedlock which was forbidden. Rhoda is an outsider who has been accused of being a witch and Hardy describes that she is ‘fading and grey’ her colours that are of Egdon. In Poe’s story however, the main character speaks for him self due to the first person narrative and describes how he feels and what he is thinking at the time. He explains that people think of him as a mad individual however he sees him self as a normal person with strong feelings against an old man who he feared due to his ‘pale blue eye’ which he describes as a frightening sight. He mentions that the only way he could escape the eye is to kill the old man ‘the whole week before I killed him’ and this makes the reader feel he is insane. Murder is also a common gothic element as it produces that dark atmosphere and shows this character is very strange and unpredictable. Insanity plays a huge role within gothic stories which is useful as the reader will want to read on to see what they will do next. In the ‘Withered Arm’ the father of Rhoda’s son, Farmer Lodge avoids them both as he doesn’t want to be seen with the woman who had a child out of wedlock, therefore doesn’t accept that he has a child. He is in charge of Rhoda Brooks as he owns the land she works on however...

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