Edgar Allan Poe Essay

1218 words - 5 pages

Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be a true American genius. He was a man whose dreary horror tales captured and frightened the minds of millions. However, Poe differed from most other acclaimed writers. The readers of his work do not admire Poe because they fall in love with his characters or because his writing touches their hearts, but rather they admire him because he managed to change reality for them. Edgar Allan Poe's skill as a writer was ascribed to the development his subject matter of death and fear. In "The Masque of the Red Death" Poe inflicts death and the fear of the unknown on his audience. The story makes no effort to present a realistic view of any known aspect of life. The reader doesn't even know what country the story takes place in. In "The Masque of the Red Death opens with a recounting of a plague, the "Red Death"; it has long been devastating the country, and the narrator describes the process of the disease, emphasizing the redness of the blood and the scarlet stains. After setting the tone, Poe next emphasizes his theme by suggesting the foolishness of the revelers in the story who think that they can escape death by such physical barriers as high walls and iron gates. One by one, all of the revelers drop dead as they discover the stranger known as the "Mask of the Red Death". In "The Masque of the Red Death," everyone is offended, but too frightened to apprehend the corpse like mask but, "when the revelers find courage to attack, there is nothing tangible within the ghastly cerements" (Quinn 331). The greatness of the story lies in Poe use of an age-old theme, the inevitability of death, and in the way that Poe creates and maintains a total unity of effect; he brings us into the horror of the story. In Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator completely terrorizes his victim before finally killing. It is one of Poe's most compact and brilliantly executed tales. Poe's story is a case of domestic violence that occurs as the result of an irrational fear. One night, the narrator's hand slipped on the clasp of the lantern, and the old man immediately "sprang up in bed, crying out--'Who's there?'"(Poe 402). He can see nothing because the shutters are all closed. Here, as in most of Poe's stories, the action proper of the story takes place within a closed surrounding--that is, the murder of the old man is within the confines of his small bedroom with the shutters closed and in complete darkness. The moans of the victim heighten the terror of the story. The narrator, who has just finished the gruesome act of dismembering a corpse, cannot cope with the highly emotional challenge needed when the police are searching the house. In "The Tell Tale Heart," the narrator plans, executes and conceals the crime; however, "what has been hidden within the self will not stay concealed...." (Silverman 208). This factor causes the narrator's heart rate to accelerate to the point that his heartbeat is pounding in his...

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