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The Narrative Techniques Of Poe Essay

1547 words - 6 pages

The short story writer which I have chosen to research is Edgar Allen
Poe. After reading one of his works in class, I realized that his mysterious style
of writing greatly appealed to me. Although many critics have different views on
Poe's writing style, I think that Harold Bloom summed it up best when he said,
'Poe has an uncanny talent for exposing our common nightmares and hysteria
lurking beneath our carefully structured lives. ' ( 7) For me, this is done through
his use of setting and narrative style.


        In many of Poe's works, setting is used to paint a dark and gloomy picture
in our minds. I think that this was done deliberatly by Poe so that the reader can
make a connection between darkness and death. For example, in the 'Pit and
the Pendulum', the setting is originally pitch black. As the story unfolds, we see
how the setting begins to play an important role in how the narrator discovers
the many ways he may die. Although he must rely on his senses alone to feel
his surroundings, he knows that somewhere in this dark, gloomy room, that
death awaits him. Richard Wilbur tells us how fitting the chamber in 'The Pit
and the Pendulum' actually was. 'Though he lives on the brink of the pit, on the
very verge of the plunge into unconciousness, he is still unable to disengage
himself from the physical and temperal world. The physical oppreses him in the
shape of lurid graveyard visions; the temporal oppreses him in the shape of an
enormous and deadly pendulum. It is altogether appropriate, then, that this
chamber should be constricting and cruelly angular' (63).

        Setting is also an important characteristic is Poe's 'The Fall of the House
of Usher'. The images he gives us such as how both the Usher family and the
Usher mansion are crumbling from inside waiting to collapse, help us to connect
the background with the story. Vincent Buranelli says that 'Poe is able to
sysatin an atomosphere which is dark and dull. This is one of the tricks which
he laregely derived from the tradition of the Gothic tale' (79). The whole setting
in the story provides us with a feeling of melancholy. The Usher mansion
appears vacant and barren. The same is true for the narrator. As we picture in
our minds the extreme decay and decomposistion, we can feelas though the life
around it is also crumbling.

        Narration is also an element in Poe's short story style that appears to link
all of the stories together. He has a type of creativity which lets the reader see
into the mind of the narrator or the main character of the story. Many of the
characters in Poe's stories seem to be insane. The narrator often seems to have
some type of psychological problems. For exapmle, In Poe's 'The Cask of
Amontillado, ' the story opens with a first person narrator (Montresor) speaking
about the planning of Fortunato's death. By the anger and remorse that
Montresor has for Fortunato, one might think that this was a...

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garnering him attention and respect in the writing community.

 In 1838 Poe published “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” a wildly 

reviewed and loved novel, this was the only novel Poe ever wrote. After it’s publication Poe 

was offered a position as assistant editor of “Burton’s Gentleman’s magazine” well with the 

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