Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Carleton’s choice of the first-person point of view of an observer, although he himself did not see the events described, is a romantic literary device—typical of such writers as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne—to emphasize the reactions of the teller. Although ostensibly merely an eyewitness report of an event, the account reflects the kind of self-conscious patterning of reality that is characteristic of the modern short story.
The first nineteenth century tale-of-terror device Carleton uses to fictionalize the actual is the premonition the narrator has about the meeting, although the summons he receives has nothing extraordinary or startling about it. He has a sense of approaching evil; an “undefinable feeling of anxiety” pervades his “whole spirit,” very much like the undefined sense of anxiety that pervades the spirit of many of Poe’s narrators, such as the unnamed narrator of “The Fall of the House of Usher” when he first rides into view of the ominous house. Moreover, like many Poe narrators, Carleton’s narrator says he cannot define the presentiment or sense of dread he feels, for it seems to be a mysterious faculty, like Poe’s “perverse,” beyond human analysis.
A completed action, treated as if it were an action in process, “Wildgoose Lodge” is a classic example of how the modern romantic short-story writer developed techniques to endow experience with thematic significance...
(The entire section is 352 words.)
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