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Short Story The Mummy's Foot by Theophile Gautier

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 3 (504 words)
Categories: Death, Horror Stories, Romanticism, Romanticism In Literature, Short Story, Symbolism
Downloads: 5
Views: 96

The style of a story sets the mood for the piece. It is ‘the way in which an author writes and/or tells’ (‘Literary Terms’) their story. In this case, the stories are written in a Gothic style. This emphasizes death, horror, and high emotions such as fear and suspense. Edgar Allen Poe writes a story about a character who is wrestling with guilt and confusing it for madness, all the while trying to convince the audience that he is not mad, nor was his crime an act of madness.

Gothic writing can also play to romantic elements such as nature and individuality.

Theophile Gautier writes a story about a man who buys a mummy’s foot from a merchant, which is actually very important to a princess. The man then asks for the princess’s hand in marriage but is turned down by her father. The themes of these stories, however, vary in which side of the Gothic style they are playing at.

Poe tends to play up the horror aspect with a theme of fear and guilt, while Gautier tends to emphasize the more romantic side of Gothic writing with a theme of doomed love. While ‘The Mummy’s Foot’ by Theophile Gautier and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allen Poe were written in a similar Gothic style, the differences lie in their themes.

Edgar Allen Poe uses the dark side of Gothic writing to enhance the reader’s emotions throughout the story; he contradicts the narrator’s thoughts and actions to infer madness, adds repetition to increase the fear of the reader, and uses an eye as the villain to add to the horror element of his writing. Poe makes the reader believe that the narrator is mad by stating that he is not mad in the first place. This might caution the audience, but the narrator quickly begins to think and act opposingly. For instance, when the speaker is undoing ‘the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously,’ they are slowing down and drawing out their movements but adding a recurring rush to their thoughts. It is as if they are moving like a river slow and smooth on the outside, yet chaotic and untamed on the inside.

The line ‘such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton,’ (Poe) is repeated throughout the story to describe a sound. It is inferred that the sound is the old man’s heart, being heard from across the room and later from under the floorboards. However, the only heart anyone can hear beating, without help from medical instruments, is their own. The speaker must be hearing his own heart then, beating hard with nerves, fear, and adrenaline. The eye is symbolic of moral conscience and judgement.

Gautier plays into the more romantic side of Gothic style writing. He uses nature and individuality to show a theme of doomed love. The foot represents direct contact with mother earth, where the mummy came from. ‘Can connote dying, passing on as well as slow wandering. Bare feet are a sign of mourning and respect.’ (umich)

Cite this essay

Short Story The Mummy’s Foot by Theophile Gautier. (2016, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/short-story-the-mummys-foot-by-theophile-gautier-essay

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