Are there elements in Wood's picture that are repeated in some systematic way regarding American Gothic?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From a thematic point of view, I think that the one element that is repeated in Wood's work is the midwestern feeling of austerity that comes across as an intrinsic part of it.  The tinted coloring of the portrait provides a type of haze over it, almost enabling a cloud to hang over the working atmosphere that is repeated in several locations within it.  The expressions of the central subjects of the work reflect this element of work, as well.  There is a countenance, particularly in the eyes of the woman, that depicts a sense of work and focus about what needs to be done.  In this, I think that one can see the man as driven by the need to work, conveyed in the overalls, pitchfork and general demeanor of austerity he possesses.  This austerity is conveyed in the drawn shades of the home, creating a distinct reality of public and private realms, in which one can only see the duty- bound public and nothing of the private.  The feeling of a work ethic that is both austere and demanding seem to be the elements that are repeated in a manner that reflects a motivation that Wood is seeking to convey, demonstrating a systematic approach to convey thematic relevance and meaning.

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