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Architecture in Literature: How It Invokes Meaning

I’m currently writing a college essay specifically regarding Atwood’s usage of architecture, but I’d like to see it on a more global level. Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale shows an area titled the Republic of Gilead that everyone lives in and the narrator provides vivid descriptions of the architecture in the area – a Late Victorian style with the simplicity of early Neoclassical beliefs in the United States. Atwood has said in interviews that it is also inspired by Cambridge, MA as far as the style and layout. Although I haven’t read any other Atwood novel I have heard that she also describes architecture in great detail in those. Many other writers such as William Faulkner and Edgar Allen Poe have done similar things with their work where they take real architectural styling and use it to create a unique, sometimes metaphorical, space. How does the architecture change our perception of the story i regards to its surface value? Should architecture be described more in writing to create a surreal sense of space?

  • I think this is a wonderful topic. Another thing to think about would be the Gothic Era; this focused alot on architecture in literature, since the concept of space was very important at this time. Gothic architecture is also used to enhance gothic elements in novels; think of how the abbey works in The Romance of the Forest ? The castle in Dracula ? Just a thought to consider since you also mentioned Edgar Allen Poe ! :) – alishauppal 6 years ago
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  • An excellent topic - - literature cannot help but be the palimpset on which all the arts of that era leave their impringts. – SUNANDO DASGUPTA AND ASSOCIATES 2 years ago
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