The Consequences of Fear in Poe’s “a Descent Into the Maelstrom, ” and Gogol’s “Viy”
English and Literature
Submitted By asundell
1 November, 2013
The Consequences of Fear in Poe’s “A Descent Into the Maelstrom,” and Gogol’s “Viy” Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Descent into the Maelstrom,” and Nikolai Gogol’s “Viy,” evoke similar feelings within the reader. Both stories have fear as a central theme, specifically fear of the unknown. The stories have relatable ideas on how fear originates and what it can do to a person. In both stories fear stemmed from unexplainable chaos outside of the character’s control, terrorized them while simultaneously evoking human curiosity, and changed the protagonist for the worst. Both stories also have a clear message that fear can destroy you if you don’t take action against it. In both stories, the main terrors are sublime beings that cannot be explained. In Poe’s Maelstrom, the accounts of its phenomenon are mainly speculations, it is not fully explained. The main character says he has “inability to comprehend it… for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss.” (Poe 7) In Gogol’s “Viy,” the characters debate over how to recognize a witch- “’even if you knew the Psalter by heart, you could not recognize one’… ‘every witch has a little tail’…. ‘every old woman is a witch.’” (Gogol 43) Even a group of philosophers, men who should know the most about such supernatural things cannot explain them. Stories about the witch had traveled around, but it was hard to decipher fact from fiction. Each of the men had a different story to tell about the witch. “One had seen her come to the door of his house in the form of a hayrick; from others she had stolen their caps or their pipes; she had cut of the hair-plaits of many girls in the village, and drunk whole pints of the blood of others.” (Gogol 46) No one knows what the witch is truly capable of, which makes her more...