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I.

ROMANTICISM and GOTHIC ROMANTIC LITERATURE


VICTORIAN ERA and VICTORIAN GOTHIC LITERATURE
a. What is Romanticism?
Romanticism or Romantic era was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that
originated in Europe toward the end of 18th century and in most areas was at its peak
in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. The Romantic literature of the
nineteenth century holds in its topics the ideals of the time period, concentrating on
emotion, nature, and the expression of nothing. The Romantic era was one that
focused on the commonality of humankind and, while using emotion and nature. The
poets, fictionist and their works shed light on peoples universal natures.
Romanticism as a movement declined in the late 19th century and early 20th century
with the growing dominance of Realism in the literature. However, Romanticism was
very impressionative on most individuals during its time. The characteristics of
Romantic literature are love of nature, love of the common man, the supernatural,
heroism, and heavily on emotions.
Gothic Romantic Literature
The gothic literary movement is a part of the larger Romantic Movement. Gothic
literature shares many of the traits of Romanticism, such as the emphasis on emotions
and the imagination. Gothic literature goes beyond the melancholy evident in most
romantic works, however, and enters into the areas of horror and decay, becoming
preoccupied with death. The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe is a powerful example
of gothic romantic short story.
b. What is Victorian era?
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victorias reign from 20
June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. Culturally, there was a transition away
from rationalism of the Georgian period and toward Romanticism and mysticism with
regard to religion, social values, and the arts. The main features of the Victorian era
are the industrial revolution and free trade, social conflicts, social reforms, Victorian
values (family, respectability), morality, religion and C.Darwins theories, and
colonial expansion.
Victorian Gothic Literature
In the Victorian era, Gothic fiction had ceased to be a dominant literary genre. The
gothic literature, such as gothic short stories tell about psychological, physical terror,
mystery, supernatural, madness, doubling, and heredity curses. The gloomy
atmosphere and horror circumstances presents in The Signal Man, a short story by
Charles Dickens.

II.

GOTHIC ROMANTIC SHORT STORY THE BLACK CAT and VICTORIAN


GOTHIC SHORT STORY THE SIGNAL MAN
a. Gothic Romantic short story: The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Summary
The Black Cat tells about a man (the unnamed narrator) who from an early age he has
loved animals. He confesses a great love for cats and dogs, both of which, he says,
respect the fidelity of friendship, unlike fellow men. The narrator marries at a young
age and introduces his wife to the domestic joys of owning pets. Among birds,
goldfish, a dog, rabbits, and a monkey, the narrator has a large and beautiful black cat,
named Pluto. Although he loves Pluto, the narrator begins to suffer from violent
mood swings, especially due to the influence of alcohol. During his uncontrollable
rage, he spares only Pluto. One night after returning home quite drunk, the narrator
lashes out at Pluto. He believes the cat has avoided him, he vengefully grasps the cat,
only to be bitten on his hand. Suddenly, the narrator takes a pen-knife from his pocket
and cuts out one of Plutos eyes. The narrator wakes the next morning with a partial
feeling of regretness. However, he is unable to reverse the ominous course of his
black soul. He is overwhelmed by a spirit of PERVERSENESS, and sets out to
commit wrong for the sake of wrong. Then, he hangs Pluto from the limb of a tree
one morning. On the night of Plutos hanging, the narrators familys house is burnt
down. He, his wife, and their servant can escape from the burnt house. The day after
the fire, which destroys all the narrators possessions, he sees some of his neighbors
collected around a wall which still standing. Then the narrator approaches them and
he discovers the impression of a gigantic cat with a rope around its neck on the
surface of the wall. The narrators attempts to explain rationally about it, but he feels
he is haunted by this phantasm over the course of many months. One night when he is
drunk, the narrator discovers a new black cat resembling Pluto but it has a splash of
white on his fur. The cat becomes part of the household, much adored by his wife as
well. However, the next days, the narrator soon cannot resist feelings of hatred to the
cat. The white fur on the cats breast reveals the mode of execution of Pluto, and the
narrator pledges revenge. One day, he and his wife are descending into the cellar of
their new house. The cat is following them. The narrator almost trips over the cat.
Enraged, the narrator grabs an axe to attack the cat, but his wife defends the animal.
Finally, he turns his rage at his wife and buries the axe in her head. Then, the narrator
creates a tomb in the plaster wall and hides his wifes body in it. When he is searching
the cat, it is missing. On the fourth day after the murder, the police arrive
unexpectedly at the narrators house. However, the narrator keeps trying to allay their
suspicion. Commenting upon the solid craftsmanship of the house, he taps on the wall

with a cane behind which is his wifes body. Suddenly, a long and loud sound cry
from behind the wall. Finally, the police storm the wall and they find the hidden
corpse. Upon its head, sits the missing black cat.
Short authorship
Edgar Allan Poe was born on 19 January 1809 in Boston,
Massachusetts, U.S and died on 7 October 1849. He was a shortstory writer, poet, critic, and editor, considered part of American
Romantic movement. Edgar Allan Poes tales of mystery and horror
initiated the modern detective story, and the atmosphere in his
tales of horror is unrivaled in American fiction. He was the first wellknown American writer to try earn a living through writing alone,
resulting a financially difficult life and career. His short story The
Black Cat is written in 1843. (Taken from Wikipedia and some
modification)

Analysis

As the narrator mentioned in the opening paragraph, he was a


descent of madness and he proclaimed his sanity. The wild nature
in the opening paragraph showed that he was suffering of mental
disorder. The habit of drinking alcoholic influenced and produced his
mood swings. Alcohol, was like the cat, an external agent that
intrudes on the dynamics of the plot. The introduction of alcohol as
a plot device was also significant because Edgar Allan Poe was an
uncontrollable drunk throughout his lifetime. The narrator in the
short story was depicted as a man who had psychological trouble.
At first he loved his cat very much, but suddenly he became anger
and cruelly torture his cat and kill it by hanging on a limb of a tree.
His anger also caused his wife killed. The black cat in the short story
give a contrast meaning. Cat is a friendly and beloved animal by
human, while the black color is a symbol of hatred, and horror. This
is why the narrator loved his cat very much at first, but finally he
hated it very much and killed it.
The characteristics of Romantic period is the use of imagination and
emotion. The Romantics tended to define and to present the
imagination as creative powers of nature and goddess. As the short
story The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe which is considered as Gothic

Romantic story. However, American gothic constitutes the darker side


of Romanticism. The horror, supernatural, emotion, and love depicted
in The Black Cat.
Individualism showed in the short story which the narrator liked to act
anything he wanted. The Black Cat revealed the values of love of
animals. The author wanted to convey about the cruelty of the
madness people who liked to drink alcoholic drinking, and black cat
which had mystical and magical power.

b. Victorian Gothic short story: The Signal Man


Summary
The Signal Man begins when an unnamed narrator comes to a deep cutting in the
earth, then he calls down below to a signal man whose job is to live in a box near a
railway track and provide a signal for people on and working a train of its coming,
going, and state. He asks the signalman to let him come down to his dark place below.
After reaching the dark, gloomy, zigzag, and damp place where the signal man works,
the narrator talk to him. The signal man is a bad condition. He tells the narrator about
an apparition or ghost he has seen twice. He tells that a man stands by the track with
one hand over his eye and the other hand waving at a coming train. Each time this
vision appears death follow soon. After the first time it was a horrify accident. The
second incident was the death of young woman. The signalman regrets because he
cannot save the people. He is lonely, he is educated, intelligent, and has no one to
share his learning with. Once he had an opportunity to better himself, but missed out
because of private events he will not go into anymore. The narrator leaves the
narrator but he says that he will return on the narrators off hours again. These off
hours are not much use to the narrator as he has ever to be alert for the bell. His duties
is to pull the bell and turn the signal light of the railway. His job is a slave for him.
The next time the narrator visits again the signal mans box, he is shocked when he
sees there are some people there. He is very depressed knowing the signal man has
died crushed by a train.
Short authorship
British writer and social critic, Charles Dickens was born on 7
February 1812 and died on 9 June 1870. He created some of the
worlds most memorable fiction characters and is generally

regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. Over his


career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5
novellas, and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles,
lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter
writer, and campaigned vigorously for childrens rights, education,
and other social reforms. One of his short story entitle The Signal
Man was first published in 1866. (Taken from Wikipedia)
Analysis
The features of Victorian Era is the industrial revolution when the
discovery of technology and machine such as train become well
known in Britain, especially England. The other features of its era
are social conflict, such as middle class vs aristocracy, working class
vs middle class, slums, and low wages. As the short story The
Signal Man tells about a man who worked in a damp, dark, and
slum place near rail way. From the short story can be inferred that
the signal man work in slave. The influences of the technology in
the short story was discovered the train which there was some
accidents of it and killed some people. The railways and telegraphs
also the inventions of the Victorian era which influenced the short
story The Signal Man. The signal man in the short story was
suffering the trauma of technology.
Essentialism is the ideology influenced the Victorian era.
Essentialism is the idea that differences between men and women
were determined by nature and women were naturally unsuited for
male roles (as men were naturallysuperior). It showed in the short
story by the character signal man who worked hard. There was no
character of woman involved in this short story, except the signal
man told about the death of a woman hit by the train, and he saw it.
The Signal Man is such an interseting story which give a picture of
the condition of Victorian era. The horror atmosphere, the dark, and
unsuitable place of work show the misery of the man. Charles
Dicken tried to convey the moral value of humanity through his
short story The Signal Man. Human cannot be equalled by the
machine.

III.

CONCLUSION
The Gothic Romantic short story The Black Cat and The Gothic
Victorian short story The Signal Man has the similarity in genre
which is horror fiction which the ending of both short stories is sad
ending. The ending of The Black Cat is the death of the
narrators wife, and the ending of The Signal Man is the death of
the narrators fellow, the signal man. The other similarity of both
short stories from the different period is point of view, it uses first
person point of view which the narrator (unnamed narrator) tells the
story. The characteristics of gothic literature are horror,
supernatural, Goddess, emotion, ghost, and sadness. Both short
stories, The Black Cat and The Signal Man have those
characteristics.
The Black Cat impressed the emotion and anger of the main
character, it is the characteristic of Romantic literature, whereas
The Signal Man impressed the misery of worker and effect of
technology, the characteristc of Victorian era.