Nineteenth Century Literature Essay

1888 words - 8 pages

Throughout the course of American history, America’s literature change has been evident. Compared to Volume A with the foundation of classic American pieces, the juxtaposition between early nineteenth century writers is shocking. Due to ideas such as manifest destiny and transcendentalism, the composition of literature completely changed. Evident in many works written in the early nineteenth century, American aspirations, myths, and fears, created a foundation upon which modern American writing was born.
Greatly illustrated in early nineteenth century literature, the common theme of fear severed as an underlying tone in many popular works. Famously known and critically acclaimed, Edgar Allen Poe’s stories revealed a horrifying and seemingly unknown portion of human nature. One of the many gothic writers of his era, Poe put a certain demented twist into each of his pieces. Beginning when he was just a little child, Poe witnessed several tragic deaths of loved ones. These experiences mused later works such as the Masque of the Read Death and The Raven. But while alive, Poe was nowhere near as famous as today. Dying penniless and drunk, the reason of Poe’s death remains a mystery. In his last hours he was found wandering around the streets of Baltimore, wearing another mans clothes, and muttering strange words. But as of today, his works are celebrated as the crown jewel of the nineteenth century. His extensive works demonstrate not only Poe’s person fears, but also those feared by many. Illustrated in nearly all of his works, Poe’s fear of losing his sanity is ironically evident. In the Tell-Tale Heart the short stories’ narrator becomes insane simply because he is annoyed by his roommate’s eye. Even after the narrator has clearly gone crazy, he does not admit it. Poe writes, “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He never gave me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vultures…I made up my mind to take the man’s life ridding myself of the eye forever!” (Poe, 2699) The logic of the narrator clearly represents that of someone who is mentally insane. The narrator is using the simple flaw of the old man’s eye to justify a reason to kill him. Yet the justification of his need to rid his life of the old man leads the reader to the conclusion that the narrator thinks he is in the right. Poe addresses the idea of insanity through suppression. And there is just something completely unsettling about the narrator of a story, the one you are supposed to be able to trust, being unreliable. On top of this, the reader is left to make inferences and guesses, making his works all the creepier. Another Fear Poe illustrates in much of his literature is the death of beautiful women. Stemming from the fact that his mother, wife, foster mother, aunt, and a woman he once fell in love with all died, Poe kills off many of his beautiful female characters. In The Fall of the House of...

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