The American Gothic and American Children`s LiteratureI will soon have to pass an exam on the American Gothic and Amercian Children`s Literature (1860 - 1920). While reading the children`s...

The American Gothic and American Children`s Literature

I will soon have to pass an exam on the American Gothic and Amercian Children`s Literature (1860 - 1920).

While reading the children`s literature The Little Lord Fauntleroy, Tarzan of the Apes, Little Women, Ragged Dick I was much more "horrified" than after reading some American Gothic novels like The Fall of the House of Usher, The House of the seven Gables, The Tell-Tale heart, The Black Cat and so on.

What do you think? Can one compare those two genres? Is American Children`s Literature "gothic"? Is it meant to scare children?

Looking forward to reading your comments:-). 

Asked on by erabene3

3 Answers | Add Yours

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

There are definitely some "children's" stories that can be considered "Gothic" in nature. The Grimm fairy tales, as mentioned above, truly are rather gory and shocking and not what one would consider "fairy tales."  Some of the Grimm fairy tales are worse than others, for sure!  A very interesting movie about the Grimm brothers (fictional for the most part) is "The Grimm Brothers" that starred Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.  It incorporated many of the original Grimm tales in it, so the appeal of the scary tales aimed at our youth is still around and always will be...just look at all of the horror films that are so popular today with young people.  I agree with the previous response that children were viewed very differently in previous centuries.  They really were treated as miniature adults.  If one looks at many portraits of children painted during the 1600 and 1700s and 1800s, they look like little adults!  They way they are addressed, their expressions, etc., are truly like adults.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Well, if you have read any of the original Brothers Grimm stories, you would feel the same way.  While by today's standards these are not appropriate "children's stories", you need to understand that people's opinions of children were different in the time period you listed above.  They were considered to be smaller versions of adults, and these stories were meant to teach lessons and morals.  Poe's stories are also meant to teach lessons on behavior (don't murder a man and put him under the floor, etc.) but more often to entertain and explore the darker side of human nature (as the Dark Romantics often did).  I think you could compare some stories in the two genres, but it might be a stretch if you attempt to include all the stories on your list.

erabene3's profile pic

erabene3 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Well, if you have read any of the original Brothers Grimm stories, you would feel the same way.  While by today's standards these are not appropriate "children's stories", you need to understand that people's opinions of children were different in the time period you listed above.  They were considered to be smaller versions of adults, and these stories were meant to teach lessons and morals.  Poe's stories are also meant to teach lessons on behavior (don't murder a man and put him under the floor, etc.) but more often to entertain and explore the darker side of human nature (as the Dark Romantics often did).  I think you could compare some stories in the two genres, but it might be a stretch if you attempt to include all the stories on your list.

Thank you for your inspiring answer! :-)

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