The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: English Studies: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Monica Pelaez

Second Advisor

Judith Dorn

Third Advisor

Paula Tompkins

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Monstrosity, Monomania, Cultural Studies, Hawthorne, Poe



Monsters hold a special place in literature and storytelling in cultures all around the world, so much so that every culture, in any time or place, has its own stories involving some type of monster or another. American culture is no exception, but the movement towards monstrosity in literature is nothing new in American culture. This project examines the monstrous traits exhibited by the characters in various short stories by 19th Century American authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. Through the lens of David Gilmore’s Monster Theory, presented in Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors, this project shows how Hawthorne and Poe’s monomaniacal characters fit into academic theories of monstrosity as well as the cultural implications of monsters in early American Literature. These implications include, but are not limited to, commentary on American culture, religion, the individual, human nature, human psychology, and human sympathy.


First, I would like to thank Dr. Richard Dillman for first suggesting that I turn the original research for this project into my Master’s Thesis.

I would also like to thank, as a group and individually, my committee members, Dr. Monica Pelaez, Dr. Judith Dorn, and Dr. Paula Tompkins, for their enduring patience throughout this project’s process and culmination.

I would like to thank Dr. Pelaez personally for serving as Committee Chair, as well as for the invaluable guidance and direction she provided me throughout the thesis process. Dr. Pelaez’s help made this project both possible and rewarding for me and, I hope, for readers.

I would like to thank Dr. Dorn for her priceless feedback and commentary during the thesis process. Without Dr. Dorn’s help and patience this project would not have been possible. Dr. Dorn’s motivation and guidance, as well as her level-headedness, were instrumental to this project’s completion.

I would like to make a special thanks to Dr. Paula Tompkins, who served as the third reader on my thesis committee. Dr. Tompkins’s was the very first teacher I ever had here at St. Cloud State University, she was the director of the Alnwick program when I studied abroad in the Fall of 2014, and I am especially thankful she agreed to serve as a committee member for my culminating project. Thank you Dr. Tompkins for serving to both welcome me to and help me graduate from St. Cloud State University.

Finally, I would like to thank Seth Naslund and Nick Erickson, without whom the stress and seriousness of this project would have surely overwhelmed and frustrated me. Their continued friendship and encouragement has helped to make my time here at St. Cloud State University all the more enjoyable, and their support throughout this project was vital to its success.