Poe's Short Stories

The Calamitous Characteristics of Romantic Corruption

In modern society, “corruption” connotes financial bribery, dishonest proceedings, or underhanded deals in business or politics. The perpetrators might waste others’ money and will supposedly suffer emotionally, but Romantic literature points out the more dangerous effects of internal corruption. For example, “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne each shed light on the paths of corruption undertaken by the main characters. On the surface, the Narrator of “The Black Cat” and Goodman Brown lead comfortable lives filled with goodness and love; their wives represent these positive ways of living. As each plot uncoils, the characters experience corruption through temptation, thereby causing them to internally change and view the world with a more sinister frame of mind. They both attempt to resist the corruption, but ultimately both submit to the dark force. Although the moral journeys of the two characters appear to mirror each other, in fact, the causes of their corruption and the changes they experience differ remarkably between. Their different ordeals ultimately cause each character to shun others’ love for different reasons. While each author pens a unique story of his character’s...

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