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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Elizabethtown chapter.



The American Literature Renaissance occurred at the same time as the boom in Gothic literature in Europe and Britain. There is no way to not see themes converging when it comes to reading the two types of literary works. With the Gothic influences seen one can notice during the boom of American literature themes of the unknown, paranormal, and dark ideals. Some great American works consist of “The Legend of Sleepy” Hollow written by Washington Irving, a formative short story writer who helped further the American Renaissance. And of course, we have Edgar Allen Poe, the man the myth the legend of dark American Gothic works. When it comes to Poe and his works a spectacular thriller he wrote is titled, “The Cask of Amontillado” he also hs other grand gothic works such as “Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Black Cat”, and many other pieces which are the building blocks of gothic prose. A female writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”, her short story discusses female mental health with gothic aspects in 1892. Of course, American Gothic literature transcends the height of the Gothic era with a well-written piece called “A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner, this skin-crawling work breaks the normal bounds of the concept of a plot. All these works are great American pieces and here are some descriptions to hopefully pique interest in reading them.


“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” written by Washington Irving and published in 1820 is a story that takes place in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town. A place of ghosts and mystery. The story is based upon the tales of the headless horseman. The main plot is between Ichiban Crane and Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt who are competing for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel. This is a classic short story which not only paves way for other stories of its kind but is now engrained as a Halloween classic. 


“The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allen Poe and published in 1846 is about two men who have a grievous disagreement, which ends in one being buried alive by the other. The disagreement is a matter of public standing and the murderer’s thoughts upon his own image. This is a story of wine and vengeance upon what one man thinks is suitable for the slight made against him. 


“The Yellow Wallpaper” was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and published in 1892. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature for its illustration of the attitudes towards the mental and physical health of women in the 19th century. the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband has rented an old mansion for the summer. Forgoing other rooms in the house, the couple moves into the upstairs nursery. As a form of treatment, the unnamed woman is forbidden from working or writing and is encouraged to eat well and get plenty of air, so she can recuperate from what he calls a “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency”, a diagnosis common to women during that period. There is a focus on the hideous wallpaper which has an embedded mystery.


“A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner and published in 1930 is a more modern tale of a jilted woman’s plot for murder and the disappearance of a young man. The story is a convoluted piece but once the reader reaches the end all the pieces and small random details add up. All the mystery is revealed on the death bed of a woman, but as a confession but as a physical discovery in her bed… 

Mary Kirby

Elizabethtown '21

Hi! I’m Mary!