A little background, I used to watch The Pointevery year at Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house in Buffalo, NY. I don’t know why and I don’t remember how the tradition started. But the real twist is that no one outside Buffalo ever seems to have heard of the movie! And trust me, I’ve asked. It’s like a vortex of only Buffalo people’s memories.
If you Google search “American literature,” you get results from Mark Twain to Edgar Allan Poe to Ernest Hemingway, but where is the diversity that makes America? Where are the female authors? The African American authors? Anyone of a minority? Honestly, they are not what comes to mind when someone says to tell them about great American literature. We think of Hemingway or Twain as American literature because that is what we are taught, giving them the biggest audience and the chance to become well-known. The only definition given for what constitutes as American literature is, “literature in English produced in what is now the United States of America.” (“American Literature”) It is as simple as that. Which means, that novels such as Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, should easily be placed in the American canon, finding its own audience to reach out to.
By now if you haven't seen the advertisements for A Simple Favor (the movie) then you've probably been hiding out at the cabin with Emily. But a little less known fact (at least until it was recently shown on movie posters) is that the movie is based on the book of the same title by Darcy Bell.
What is it that scares readers most about Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works? Is it the fact that Poe leaves so much of the horror to develop in the reader's minds? In one of Poe’s most famous works, The Raven, the horror is in the unknown darkness surrounding the narrator, but what each individual reader sees in the darkness is up to them. In The Fall of the House of Usher, which was first published in 1839, Poe again does not tell readers what to fear. Is it the House of Usher itself? Is it the Usher siblings’ strange behaviors? Or is it their diseases? Ultimately, it is the Usher siblings’ disease, which is subtly revealed to be a form of vampirism, that is meant to scare readers the most. Poe delicately uses vampirism in a few of his works to show, “the essentially vampiric nature of human relationships, including love and lust both normal and incestuous, and develops his theme to observe the lesion of vitality inherent in the creative or artistic process. Vampirism, with its terrible energy exchanges and exactions, is ultimately Poe's analogy for a love that persists beyond the grave - an all-consuming, necrophiliac passion that cannot be sated until an undead reconciliation is effected” (Dead Brides). Roderick and Madeline have been each other’s only companions for so long, that neither can imagine their life without the other, so while the setting of the House of Usher may add to the creepiness of the story, the vampiric nature of Roderick and Madeline Usher is Poe’s ultimate scare-tactic for his short story The Fall of the House of Usher.
Well, I already warned you about spoilers, so let’s just jump right in. If you like neat and tidy endings where the bad guy gets punished and everyone lives happily ever after...this isn’t the story for you. She gets away with it!
We are all guilty of it as much as we may deny it. We have read Twilight, or The Vampire Diaries, or Vampire Academy, which all had spin-off movies and television shows. But when did vampires become lovable creatures that readers want to have bite them? When vampire stories first emerged in the Victorian period, vampires were scary, awful, creepy creatures. People were afraid of them, not in love with them (Stevenson 198). Now however, vampires are a part of popular culture with people fawning over Team Stefan or Team Damon or any of the other vampire love triangles adorning our bookshelves and televisions. Perhaps this is because society itself has changed over the last two hundred years since “Some of what Victorians found horrible now seems pretty cool. For example, where they (vampires) once seemed creepily strange and deviant, they now seem freethinking and uninhibited” (Stevenson 207). A vampire’s unwillingness to submit to common societal graces during the Victorian period made them outcasts and were thus scary to those on the inside of society, whereas now, being the outcast is considered cool and interesting (Melton xvii). Joanna Russ’ short story, My Dear Emily from 1962, shows the beginning of this transition from fearing to loving vampires through the character of Emily.