Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne believed that humans held a large dark side beneath their exteriors. Most romantic writers thought that people were good inside and could eventually reach â€œgodlikeâ€ status, either through destiny or good deeds. Hawthorne and Poe, in their short stories, â€œThe Hollow and the Three Hills,â€ â€œThe Black Cat,â€ and â€œThe Imp of the Perverse,â€ trace the effects of secret sin and guilt in their main characters. â€œThe Hollow and the Three Hillsâ€ is a story about a woman who has a secret sin and for some unknown reason likes to revisit it. She comes to a witch in a hollow between three hills and asks the witch to allow her to revisit her sin. In â€œThe Black Cat,â€ the narrator of the story kills his feline friend, Pluto. This devastates him after he realizes what he has done, and quickly degrades his state of mind until he becomes completely insane. Finally, in â€œThe Imp of the Perverse,â€ the narrator contemplates murdering a man. He thinks for months on a way to do it, and finally reads about a case of a poison candle. He commits his crime and this, too, digs deep into his being and makes him go insane.
Firstly, in â€œThe Hollow and the Three Hills,â€ there is a woman who goes to a valley between three hills to revisit her secret sin. There, there is a witch who is sitting next to a crummy, disgusting pool of scum. The woman leaves her daughter to die, â€œâ€¦ the wife who had sinned against natural affection, and left her child to dieâ€ (Hawthorne 902). The woman betrays her marital vows between herself and her husband. This causes them to break apart, and the woman decides to leave her daughter alone. The daughter, without sustenance, perishes. Next, the woman develops guilt towards her actions. â€œâ€¦ but I have left those behind me with whom my fate was intimately bound, and from whom I am cut off forever.