What is Gothic about the setting of "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The typical Gothic setting is exotic. Many of the Gothic novels were set in either the remote past—especially the medieval or Gothic period—or in locales remote from the ordinary lives of their readers, such as European castles, monasteries, the Scottish highlands, or remote windswept moors. Often the settings combine extraordinary architectural or natural beauty with signs of decay or some sort of ominous foreboding.

By contrast, "The Tell-Tale Heart" is set in an ordinary rooming house. The suspense is generated by the close attention to the narrator's unbalanced state of mind. Unlike in a traditional Gothic novel, which includes extensive descriptions of the setting, this story contains little description of the setting. Instead, it narrowly focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the narrator. Although the atmosphere of tension, suspense, and horror resembles the Gothic in other respects, including setting, the story is not entirely typical of the Gothic genre. 

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The Tell-Tale Heart

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