A Comparison Of House Of Usher, Bierce's Beyond The Wall, The Black Cat, John Mortonson's Funeral

1771 words - 7 pages

Parallels in Poe's House of Usher and Bierce's Beyond the Wall, Poe’s The Black Cat and Bierce's John Mortonson's Funeral, and in M.S. Found in a Bottle by Poe and Three and One are One by Bierce.

    When one decides to become an author, one can not help being influenced by his predecessors, causing some of one's work to reflect and echo the predecessor's. Such is the case between Ambrose Bierce and his predecessor, Edgar Allen Poe. Excluding the obvious fact that both Poe's and Bierce's short stories show an attraction for death in its many forms, depictions of mental deteriorations, supernatural happenings, and ghostly manifestations, there are other similarities and parallels. Examples of them appear in Poe's short story "Fall of the House of Usher" and Bierce's short story "Beyond the Wall", Poe's "The Black Cat" and Bierce's "John Mortonson's Funeral", and in "M.S. Found in a Bottle" by Poe and "Three and One are One" by Bierce. Beyond the Wall vs The Fall of the House of Usher

In "Beyond the Wall", the descriptions of the setting, the words Bierce used, and the way the story opens reminds one of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." In both stories the narrator travels to the house of a childhood friend whom the man has not seen in many years. The narrator begins his journey on "... the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens...". Poe creates the feeling of despair by writing about how "a insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit" when the narrator saw "the melancholy House of Usher." He looked upon "...the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls -... upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul... an iciness, a sickening of the heart - an unredeemed dreariness of thought...", and the effect made him "shudder". Bierce must have had this image in mind when he had his narrator arrive on a stormy night filled with "incessant rain". The narrator in Bierce's story tells the reader that "the dwelling, a rather ugly one, apparently, stood in the center of its grounds, which as nearly as I could make out in the gloom were destitute of either flowers or grass. Three or four trees, writhing and moaning in the torment of the tempest, appeared to be trying to escape from their dismal environment... in the window of [the house] was the only visible light. Something in the appearance of the place made me shudder, a performance that may have been assisted by a rill of rain water down my back as I scuttled to cover in the doorway." Even though, in "The Fall of the House of Usher" Poe is more verbose in describing the land and how it makes the narrator feel, the images and the mood are nearly the same. The only difference in the opening was the fact that in "Beyond the Wall" the storm had already started, and "the storm in all its wrath" did not really start until the narrator was inside...

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