Infinite Elements of Gothic Fiction

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Though the Gothic fiction genre can be broken down into just seven different elements, each story uses them in their own unique way. These stories may use any number of these elements, in any order, and even with a bit of artistic liberty, perfectly exemplified by both Edgar Allan Poe and Frank Stockton. Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger” both have their own rights to the Gothic fiction genre, but achieve it through mostly contrasting elements. Although they are both filled with overwrought emotion, they diverge when it comes to their atmospheres of mystery, and the roles which women play. Both of these writers includ women as an element of their Gothic fiction, but they are used in contrasting fashions. In the Gothic genre, women are often times portrayed as either oppressed by a tyrannical masculine character, or in a forced position to make a tough decision. The former is the case in “The Black Cat,” although the beginning of the story makes it seem otherwise. This is exemplified by the narrator when he states, I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. (Poe 272) In this excerpt the narrator describes his decline into alcoholism and how it affects him and those around him, especially his wife. He states how he could only think to use heated words towards his wife and even go as far as to assault her, while she quietly accepts the situation as if it were inevitable. Contrary to “The Black Cat”, this type of role almost flips between man and woman in “The Lady or the Tiger” where in fact it is the man whose life solely depends on the decisions made by his lover, such as when he looks for guidance in which door to open. “…he saw…that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger, and
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