An Effect All Together Unexpected: The Grotesque In Edgar Allan Poe's Fiction
Edgar Allan Poe is everywhere. His influence resonates not only in American literary criticism, but in popular culture where Homer and Bart Simpson act out "The Raven" in an episode of The Simpsons and Poe can be seen getting into a rap battle with Stephen King on the popular YouTube video series Epic Rap Battles. While a great deal has been written about the significance of Poe's oeuvre, few scholars have focused primarily on the grotesque in his short fiction. This thesis will explore Edgar Allan Poe's aesthetic influences, his place within the gothic tradition and describe the three elements that create his specific grotesque aesthetic: the affective reader, obsessive design, and haptic space. This thesis will describe how these elements whether in the unnamed narrator's bridal suite in "Ligeia" or the protagonist of "The Pit and the Pendulum" experiencing the apparatus of torture during the Spanish Inquisition, create a sense of indeterminacy, trapped between pain and pleasure, beauty and terror, life and death. Analyzing Poe's texts this thesis will describe these grotesque figurations and what these constructions mean narratively and artistically and how they inform the author's larger intellectual goals.