Gothic and Romantic Themes: Shelley and Poe
Having both Gothic and Romantic period qualities to their work, I was able to draw a connection between the writing style and themes of Frankenstein to that of the collection of short stories and poems written by Edgar Allen Poe. Being one of the faces of Gothic literature, it is easy to observe the dark mystery, revenge, and drama that can be compared to modern horror stories through the work of Poe. The Romantic central elements of nature and emotion are also prevalent in the work of Poe and Shelley. The work of Poe and Frankenstein highlight the importance behind the dynamic relationship between humans and nature and the possible implications of overstepping our role.
This week, I was excited to have the opportunity to attend the Poe Exhibition in the Peabody Library. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a similar event and seminar on Edgar Allen Poe in the Poe room of the Pratt Library in downtown Baltimore. I was happy to further my understanding of both Poe’s life and work. It was amazing to see the different personal pieces that were included as part of the collection such as illustrations, old newspapers, and even original copies of Poe’s work. I also found it very interesting to note the relationship Poe had with Baltimore and how the city influenced him as much as he influenced the city.
Poe’s, “A Cask of Amontillado” follows the dark memory of the speaker and the night he murdered his friend as revenge for something in which the speaker does not seem to remember himself years later. Poe’s obsession of death and loneliness was a common theme throughout his literature and can be easily compared to plot of Frankenstein. Frankenstein is the story of a scientist’s conflict between nature and science and the twisted story of revenge by the monster. The monster’s perspective offered a different side of the story that portrayed the monster as lonely, misunderstood, and without purpose. Similarly to the theme of a caution of the boundaries of science in Frankenstein, Poe’s “Sonnet-To Science” warns its reader of the affects that science has on literature and the imagination. If we push our scientific boundaries, we may upset the balance between nature and science and ruin the imagination that inspired our scientific ideas in the beginning.
The exhibit on Poe helped me to form the connection between the themes represented in Shelley’s, Frankenstein, and the themes of the literary works of Poe. The themes of revenge, sadness, and death that were included in his works were as a result of the difficult life Poe lived such as a difficult college and military career and the tragic death of his mother. However, the themes of his work that were shared with those of Shelley’s perfectly exemplifies the Romantic and Gothic literary styles of the era and both offered the ground work for our modern day horror and mystery genres.