Edgar Allan Poe’s Influence on Goth Culture

By Stephanie Bajzik  

Most of Poe’s influence on Goth culture comes from the way that he writes. Nothing is exactly as it is and readers have to think between the lines and put themselves into Poe’s mindset to understand the imagery. He is a difficult writer to understand, however, once the lifestyle he lived is understood, reality sets in and the pictures of his influence and suggestive connotations are revealed.

Understanding Poe

While this seems like an impossible task, it’s really quite simple. Poe followed the Gothic lifestyle simply to appease the image that the general public thought he should portray. It was his way to rebel and create a bigger name for himself. What he failed to realize is that this lifestyle actually fit his cynical personality quite well.

Reinterpreted Goth Fiction

Edgar Allen Poe influenced Goth culture by using his vast knowledge of psychology to properly depict personalities of his characters in his writings. Perhaps it’s best to briefly explain how this worked in his writings. Many critics said that his writings were strictly German tales. This may be the case but Poe proposed a definition to them that the terror he wrote about was not specifically about Germany per say, it was about the inner terrors of the soul.

This is how Poe became known for alternative views of the world and situations. His Gothic nature, which even he did not fully realize, stems from real life instances and his diluted perceptions of events. The truth is Edgar Allen Poe was a versatile writer that had an impact on society on a variety of levels, not just the Goth lifestyle.

Edgar Allen Poe

Obsession with Darkness and Death

There is a large misconception when it comes to Gothic culture and leading a Goth lifestyle. Many believe that these persons are obsessed with death, darkness, destruction and pain. The fact of the matter is, these people take those stories and relate real life occurrences of their own to the situations read in this genre of writing. The same goes for music and the clothing style developed for this genre. It isn’t something that people do to look cool, seem unapproachable or even to just look scary; it’s how they feel after reading or listening to tragedy.

Goth is a Feeling not a Scary Fashion Show

The ability to relate to painful situations from experience is Goth culture. The ability to perpetuate emotion through music or readings based upon the imagery created is a big portion of this culture. It does not mean that these persons are suicidal, are obsessed with death or have no emotions. In fact, it is the complete opposite.

Those living a Goth lifestyle understand pain; they are empaths more than anything. This means that they feel what others feel and sympathize when others feel sorrow. This is why it seems that these persons are disturbed, depressed or dangerous to be around. If you took the time to sit and read some of Poe’s Goth works and had a conversation with someone from Goth culture, you’d get it, it would just finally click.