The Theme of Dominance in the American Gothic Storytelling

Dominance is a theme seen in early American Literature. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The Birthmark” describes the theme of male dominance and manipulation between man and woman. In this story, Aylmer has a passion for science. Georgiana, the wife of Aylmer, has a spot on her cheek that many compliment her for. However, Aylmer's compassion for science is not strong in comparison to the love for Georgiana. Aylmer manipulates her into the removal of the birthmark. In this story, Hawthorne explains the conflict between genders such as male dominance.

For example, Aylmer questions Georgianna about the removal of her birth-mark. Georgianna responds, “it has been so often called a charm.” Aylmer replies, “on another face.” The statement from Georgina shows that she is not worried about the removal. However, Aylmer continues to dominate Georgiana through manipulation. Another example of dominance is when Georgiana responds to Aylmer’s last time requesting the removal.

Georgina states, “let the attempt be made at whatever risk.

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Either remove this dreadful hand or take my wretched life!” This statement reveals that Aylmer’s perspective of the birthmark dominates Georgiana to the point of conformity. The message portrayed in this work is imperfection. Throughout history and relevant today, many people try to cover their flaws and imperfections. Many people tend to see perfection as something worth striving for but not in reality. In this story, Georgina did not want to remove the birth. Others around her believed it to unique. Aylmer's assistant, Aminadab, states he would not remove the birthmark appearing to be the voice of reasoning.

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The only reason why Georgiana’s birthmark was removed is due to dominance and manipulation.

In America, we have many people that we consider our forefathers. From presidents to politicians, each forefather played a major role that has influenced today’s society. Benjamin Franklin is one of the most known forefathers in the America. Franklin is also one of the most prominent figures in American History. In Franklin’s essay, “A Way to Wealth” Franklin shares his insight on how to achieve wealth. Throughout this essay, he shares ideas through a character known as “Poor Richard. “Franklin provides quotes such as, “Sloth, like rust consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is always bright.” In this quote, Franklin makes the comparison between laziness which is like rust will waste more time than someone who is dedicated to hard work which is compared to a used key because it always shines bright. Another example of achieving wealth is when Franklin adds, “there is no gains without pain”.

This quote explains that someone must go through something in order to get rewarded. In addition, this quote is used across the United States in many places which has significant contribution to our nation in present day. In this work, Franklin’s contribution to our nation is through influence. The message in this essay is wealth is achievable through hard work, dedication and determination. Franklin has written many other essays pertaining to politics and many other things. Nonetheless, Franklin’s, “A Way to Wealth” remains applicable to this day if anyone needs the blueprint to achieve wealth.

In American Literature, there is many authors who created different elements of conflict. In Edgar Allan Poe’s, “Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator’s psychological paranoia is the conflict. The narrator claims to be a person of sanity through words and person of wickedness through actions. The narrator kills the old man because of the fixation he has over the old man’s eye. The narrator states that he “loved” the old man. However, the love for the old man was not strong in comparison to his obsession over the old man’s eye. Throughout the story, he constantly states that he is “not a madman”. The narrator’s thoughts do not match up to his wicked motives. Throughout the story, the narrator does not realize his own actions. His obsession over the old man’s eye fails to look at himself as the evil I (as himself).

For example, the narrator stalks the old man for seven nights to look at the eye. During the seven nights, the narrator states, “it’s impossible to do the work” because could he not see during the whole week. He also states, “the eye haunted him day and night”. On the eighth night, the narrator murdered the old man and hid the old man under wood planks. Once the police arrive to the old man’s house is the beginning of the resolution. When the police come in, the narrator tries to be as calm as possible. Once the police go into the room of the old man, the narrator puts his chair over the spot where the old man is hidden. After this moment is when the consciousness of his wicked actions appears. When describing the heartbeat of the old man, he states, “much a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton”. The description of this noise grew louder as time on. His own “acute hearing senses” was another aspect of his downfall as well. While the sound grew louder, as the narrator confessed to the murder of the man.

In Mary Rowlandson’s, “A narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” is a captivity narrative where the concept of God is seen heavily. Mary went through many hardships and difficulties in her captivity with the Indians. Mary spent eleven weeks in captivity by the Wampanoag Indians. She goes through many challenges such as the death of her child, removal from family, and many other challenges. Mary’s faith in God is the driving force that keeps her going throughout this captivity narrative. For example, in the third remove, Mary explains her view of God. She states, “Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and upheld me; as He wounded me with one hand, so he healed me with another.” In this quote, Mary believes every happens for a reason in God’s way.

In the second remove, Mary states how God helps her with resilience and perseverance. She states that her daughter is wounded and put on a horse by the Indians. Mary adds, “The Lord renewed my strength still and carried me along, that I might see more of his power.” According to Mary, it was the will of God that kept her going despite from all the pain and suffering she is going through. During her captivity, Mary also reads the bible through difficult times as well. In the fourth remove, Mary found herself in misery when she was thinking about her children and light headed from hunger and travel with the Indians. Mary quotes,” the Lord brought that precious scripture to me.” Mary began to read, “Thus saith Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for thy work shall be rewarded and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” (Jeremiah 31:16) Mary found peace within this scripture because she believes God put through trials and tribulations. Through the trials and tribulations, she believes that God will make a miracle to free her from captivity.

Updated: Feb 07, 2022
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The Theme of Dominance in the American Gothic Storytelling. (2022, Feb 07). Retrieved from

The Theme of Dominance in the American Gothic Storytelling essay
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