The Occult in A Tale of the Ragged Mountains
In his collection of criticism on Poe's stories, Thompson discusses the use of the occult in "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains." He begins the article by explaining that this story might be the product of Poe's "fascination with, but detached attitudes toward, the pseudoscientific occultism of his age." He gives us some technical terms for the techniques that Poe uses in this story: "metempsychosis" is the transmigration of souls, and is the word that surfaces frequently throughout this discussion of "Ragged Mountains." First Thompson discusses the idea that Poe set up the tale in a very specific way; as he puts it, "Poe himself wove a web for the purpose of unraveling." He believes that Poe set up a series of clues to guide the reader through the story. So, first the reader gets a "scientific" explanation of the events that seem supernatural, which is then followed by a "psychological" explanation (which is the opposite of the scientific facts). The final clue is the reader discovering that this tale is very similar to another Gothic tale that Poe admired.
Thompson writes that "Ragged Mountains" is seemingly chiefly concerned with sleep-walking, hypnosis, and metempsychosis. However, Thompson quotes Sidney E. Lind's ideas on the story. Lind believes that this is "not really a realistically handled tale of the supernatural, but ... a psychological tale based on the possibilities of occult science." Basically, he is suggesting that Poe is merely speculating about what his readers might want to read, and is not really writing a tale based on his beliefs of the supernatural.
Thompson then goes on to say that Lind discusses "Ragged Mountains" as an "ambiguous but...