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From Tribes to Literature

In: English and Literature

Submitted By productionz1
Words 2417
Pages 10
Marek Hullinger
Mike Fiscel
English W132
26 September 2013
From Tribes to Literature The word Goth derives from a German tribe referred to as the Goths. The term Gothic was later used during medieval times for the construction of buildings with pointed arches and vaults (Lad). In my essay, I chose to discuss two pieces of Gothic fiction. The first piece of Gothic fiction I decided to discuss is, “The Cask of Amontillado.” It was published in 1846 by the famous short-story writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe. The second piece of Gothic fiction I chose to discuss is, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” It was published in 1966 by Joyce Carol Oates. In Gothic literature there any many characteristics to its writing and famous short-stories such as “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” contain many of those Gothic fiction characteristics.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. Montresor is the main character of the story and also acts as the narrator. The story begins by him vowing his vengeance towards Fortunato for insulting him. Montresor hides his animosity towards Fortunato so he does not expect anything. He maintains a deceiving presence towards Fortunato and plots to exploit Fortunato’s weakness for luxurious wines. Carnival season came upon the city and Montresor finds Fortunato at the carnival. He invites him to try some of his sherry at his home. Montresor doubts Fortunato’s skill with wines which makes him want to prove him wrong. Montresor dresses up in a disguise and leads Fortunato to his home. Once they reach the home of Montresor, he leads Fortunato down to the catacombs. Montresor encourages Fortunato to drink alcoholic beverages, resulting in him becoming intoxicated. Fortunato realizes that Montresor is not who he thinks he is, but being intoxicated, he continues through the catacombs. Montresor leads Fortunato into a deep crypt at the end of the catacomb. He tricks Fortunato into going inside a small niche inside the crypt. Montresor surprises Fortunato from behind and chains him up. Montresor begins to wall Fortunato inside the niche. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a piece of Gothic literature written by Joyce Carol Oates. The story is inspired by three Tucson, Arizona Murders committed by Charles Schmid. Connie, a fifteen year old girl, is the main character of the story. Connie is a typical, selfish teenage girl who does not care to listen to her parents. Her mother is always criticizing her and comparing her to her older sister, June. June is twenty-four, still lives at home, and works as a secretary at Connie’s high school. June can be described as the golden child, and Connie is stuck living in her shadow. Connie’s father is a workaholic who does not have a close relationship with his daughters. This results in Connie only having her mother as a parental figure. She resents her mother. Connie is grateful that June set one good precedent which allows her to be able to go out with her best friend. June is allowed to go out with her girlfriends so Connie is also allowed to. Connie’s best friend’s father drives them to a shopping plaza in town whenever they want. One night, Connie goes out to dinner with a boy named Eddie. As Connie and Eddie are walking through the parking lot that night, a man drives by in a gold convertible and calls out to her, “Gonna get you, baby.” (Poe). Connie ignores it and forgets about the man going and to spend the rest of her summer dreaming about the boys she meets. One Sunday her family leaves her home alone to go to a cookout. Connie relaxes and decides to enjoy the day home alone. While she is lying outside, she hears a car pull up in the driveway. She goes to look and recognizes it’s the man who drives the golden convertible from that night in the parking lot. The man demands Connie to come with him or he will harm her family. Connie is in a panic and grows very scared. She grabs the phone to call for help and tries to find an escape. Before she can come to reality of what is going on in the situation, Arnold is stabbing her repeatedly and Connie ends up leaving with the man.
Gothic fiction in my opinion is by far the most intriguing genre of literature to read. This genre of literature is also referred to as Gothic horror. This genre of literature is a magnificent combination of both horror and romance. It is believed that this genre was invented in 1764 by Horace Walpole. Characteristics of Gothic fiction include a setting in a dark, mysterious location such as a castle or mansion, an atmosphere full of suspense and mystery, an ancient prophecy, omens and visions, supernatural or surreal events, high or overwrought emotion, women in distress, a tyrannical male, and the metonymy of gloom and horror (Harris) . Nearly everything in “The Cask of Amontillado” has a symbolic meaning. Every detail seems to be encoded and a message we are compelled to decipher. The Montresor’s family coat of arms has a symbolic meaning that stands out in the story. While Fortunato and Montresor took their journey to the vault, that contains the amontillado, Fortunato informs Montresor that he “forgot [his] arms” (Poe). Montresor explain his families’ coat of arms by saying it is, “A huge human d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel” (Poe). It seems simple and obvious, but it has much more of a symbolic meaning. Fortunato is the serpent in the grass and he “bit”, or insulted, and Montresor’s big foot is now crashing down on top of him as a result. After breaking down the coat of arms we can now understand it is fabricated and it is Montresor’s fantasy of what he wants to happen. Another example of the story being Gothic fiction is the setting. The story occurs at Montresor’s mansion. At the mansion the majority of the story occurs in Montresor’s underground vaults. The vaults are described almost as an underground graveyard. The underground vaults were damp, dark and covered in nitre. The vaults contain the remains of Montresor’s family members giving it a creepy atmosphere. The story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” contains many characteristics of Gothic fiction. The first example is Arnold. He portrays as the tyrannical male in the story who threatens an innocent, teenage girl. Arnold stalks and threatens a teenage girl named Connie. Arnold commands her to come with him and says to her that she is his lover. In the end, Connie ends up leaving with Arnold after he stabs her. A second example that causes this to be a great example of Gothic literature is Connie acts as the woman in distress. Within the story, Connie readers often find themselves feeling sympathy for her. One night while Connie was present at a date, she had her first encounter with Arnold. This leaves her terrified after Arnold drives by her and says, “Gonna get you, baby” (Oates). As a reader, you also feelt sorrow for Connie when her family leaves her home alone to go to a cookout without her. While Connie is home alone with no one to protect her, Arnold comes over to harass and kidnap her.
Personal Opinion In the introduction to “The Cask of Amontillado”, Edgar Allan Poe uses conflict as his attention getter. He discusses his hate for Fortunato as his character Montresor. He then vows vengeance upon Fortunato adding some causing you to want to continue reading to find out what Montresor is going to do. The addition of conflict into the intro adds suspenseful thinking of the reader and urges you to continue reading to find out just what is going to be done to Fortunato. The introduction to “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a magnificent way to start the story. First of all the author Joyce Oates begins it by dedicating it to the famous musician Bob Dylan. The household name in music adds popularity to the writing and intrigues the readers, but also throws them off by dedicating this Gothic thriller to a music star. Then once you finally begin reading the story it gives you a great understanding background of Connie and her family that is easy to relate to and imagine. The dedication to a famous household music artist and how relatable and imaginable the relationship is of Connie’s family make this a magnificent introduction. In the story “The Cask of Amontillado” the two main characters are Montresor and Fortunato. The main character, Montresor, is also the narrator of the story. He is the sinister character in the story. I think he is a believable character and relatable because everyone has a conscious and Montresor’s reveals his at the end of the story. Throughout the story Montresor seems ruthless, sinister and he acts as if he thinks of murder as necessary. At the end of the story in the last paragraph Montresor says, “My heart grew sick” (Poe). He says that as he is shoving the last piece of the stone in place. This is a sign that he feels guilty but he does not want to admit it and blames the dampness of the catacombs. I think we can all almost agree that everyone has a conscious and that’s what causes Montresor a believable character to me. Fortunato is the other main character in the story and is the victim. It seems easier to relate to Fortunato since he is the victim and feel sorrow for him. The matter of fact is that we barely have any information about Fortunato, because it is told from Montresor’s point of view. Montresor never informs us readers in the story how Fortunato hurt him or insulted him so it is left up to our imagination. We do not understand much about fortunate besides his weaknesses. His weaknesses somewhat mirror our own as individuals. Some of Fortunato’s main weaknesses we can spot are addiction, insensitivity, pride, and trust. His weaknesses being relatable to our own causes him to be a believe character, or victim, to me. Connie and Arnold are the two main characters in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. Connie is the main character, and victim of the story you can say. She is the typical snotty, self-centered fifteen year old girl. She is in the stage of her life in which she resents her parents and thinks she is superior to everyone else around her. Connie sneaks around to hang out with older boys. Her dad is never around nor has a relationship with her, which helps us relate to her rebelling and attraction to older men as result in her missing a father figure in her life. I believe everyone can relate to Connie in this story and is completely believable. The second main character in this story is Arnold. Arnold is the bad guy in the story and is Connie’s kidnapper and stalker. He is an older man, but tries to look like a teenager and drives a yellow convertible. With all of the kidnapping stories around the country today we hear the profiles of these kidnappers and Arnold is the stereotypical psychopath kidnapper. As scary as it is to admit Arnold is truly believable. As terribly difficult it is to admit there are people in the world we live in just like Arnold. The conclusion of “The Cask of Amontillado” has a shocking ending because its ending is not exactly defined, which creates a good ending to the story. Fortunato pleads to Montresor to let him go and at some time believes it all is a joke. Fortunato is in denial of his slow death but comes to accept it once the wall is complete. In my opinion as a reader, in the end Montresor’s feelings for remorse surface after he completes the wall. Montresor says, “My heart grew sick-on account of the dampness of the catacombs” (Poe). I believe this is when he expresses his remorse for what he did to Fortunato, but he tries to cover it up by blaming the damp catacombs. The last thing that Montresor says out loud to himself is, “In pace requiescat!”(Poe). In pace requiescat is a phrase priests say after a dying person confesses his sins. It also means, may he rest in peace. I believe this expresses that Montresor feels sorry for what he did and really wants Fortunato to rest in peace. In the conclusion of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” the ending creeps up abruptly. The ending is pretty surreal and as a reader it lost me. We never learn what happens to Connie and so many questions are left unanswered. We are left to interpret everything leading up to the ending ourselves and for me it was not clearly understandable. When Connie steps out to join Arnold, she no longer can see the driveway or her neighborhood, but just "vast sunlit reaches of the land behind him and on all sides of him" (Oates). In conclusion to my essay over the Gothic fiction genre, I hope you have a better understanding as a reader to of what Gothic fiction is. “The Cask of Amontillado” is a daunting horror story that contains many elements, such as symbolism, of what a Gothic fiction novel should contain. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a classic Gothic novel that was created into a movie, that contains many of the popular elements are good Gothic fiction novel should have. In Gothic literature there any many characteristics to its writing and famous short-stories such as “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” contain many of those Gothic fiction characteristics.

Works Cited

Harris, Robert. Elements of the Gothic Novel. 22 November 2011. Web. 25 October 2013.
Oates, Carol Joyce. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Ed. Gwynn. Seventh. Glenview: Pearson Education, 2012. Print. 25 October 2013.
Poe, Allen Edgar. The Cask of Amontillado. Ed. Gwynn. Seventh. Glenview: Pearson Education, 2012. Print. 25 October 2013.
Lad, Kashmira. "Gothic Literature.", 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.…...

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