Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

András Molnár: Instances of the Deconstruction of Free Will and Autonomy in Poe and Lovecraft

Article

DOI 10.51313/alumni-2020-5

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how the conception of free will and personal autonomy is deconstructed in the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. These authors are classics of American Gothic fiction, and Poe exerted a significant influence on Lovecraft. In this paper, I examine the ways the two authors represented their characters as the results of deterministic laws of nature, rather than autonomous agents who possess the ability of free will. First, I am going to analyze Poe’s gothic crime fiction tales, in which the perpetrator-narrators committed their crimes under the effect of “perversity,” and even their confessions after the fact are directed by the same force, which makes these confessions morally meaningless. Then, with respect to Lovecraft’s tales, I point out atavism and the characters’ familial heritage as factors that make free will seem illusory.

 

Keywords

Lovecraft, Poe, American gothic, horror, supernatural

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ISSN 1786-7967

Budapest Institute, 1139 Budapest Frangepán utca 50-56. Hungary