Edgar Allan Poe, is one of the most brilliant literary writers in history. He wrote many poems and short stories throughout his rather short lifetime, most of which encompassed such themes as death, destruction, and madness. These intriguing, and often frightening tales, as well as his clever use of a multitude of literary tactics, is what set him apart from the rest, and what makes him so popular still today. Reading his work, one is sure to wonder where these ideas came from. However, a little research into past will certainly open the doors to a better understanding of his writing.
Abandoned as an infant by his father, Poe lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of three, and was sent to live with foster parents. There he was raised but never adopted. Also, his relationship with his foster father was quite tumultuous. Shortly after their death, he married his cousin Virginia Clemm, who also ended up contracting tuberculosis and died after a long hard battle with the disease. This had a very hard impact on Poe. Furthermore, it is known that Poe also had a serious problem with alcohol, as well as there are reports that he likely suffered from a mental illness, as evidenced by a letter he wrote stating that he had tried to commit suicide (Quinn 1998). Also, throughout his life, Poe struggled to be a writer, though his ways always ended up keeping him from achieving, while he was alive, what he was capable of. As one can see, Poe lived a life that was defined by death, hardship, and his own possible insanity. This makes it much more clear as to why he chose such dark themes for his works.
The two stories that will be discussed in this paper are “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” which were both published in 1843 in The Saturday Museum in Philadelphia. These two works were chosen firstly, because they are considered some of his most famous writings, and secondly, because the correlations between them are quite remarkable. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a basically a story about a man who shares a home with another older man. Even though nothing is ever done to him, the younger man, the narrator, suddenly becomes obsessed with his roommate’s eye, which he becomes sure is evil. Ultimately, he meticulously plans and carries out his murder and buries him underneath the floor. He ends up confessing and the body is found. In summary, “The Black Cat” tells the story of a man who drinks too much, and in a fit of rage kills one of the household pets. He later finds another animal that looks just like the one killed. He eventually tries to kill it as well, but ends up killing his wife instead. He hides the body behind his basement wall, and again the body ends up being found.
There are numerous correlations between these two stories. First of all, they have to do with murder, hiding of the corpse, and eventual discovery. They are both told in the first person, which offers the reader better insight into what is going through the minds of the main...