Edger Allan Poe

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Edger allan poe




Best known for his poems and short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston on Jan. 19,
1809, deserves more credit than any other writer for the transformation of the short story from
tale to art. He for the most part created the detective story and perfected the psychological
thriller. He also produced some of the most influential literary criticism of his time. Poe died Oct.
7, 1849.
Poe's parents were touring actors; both died before he was three years old, and he was
taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy merchant in Richmond, Va., and baptized Edgar
Allan Poe. His childhood was uneventful, although he studied for five years in England between
the years of 1815 through 1920. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia, however, he only
attended for a year. Although a good student, he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to
pay. Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poe's engagement to Sarah Elmira
Royster, his girlfriend. Having no where to turn, Poe enlisted in the army. He had, however,
already written and printed his first book at his own expense: Tamerlane and Other Poems, verses
written in the manner of Byron.
Temporarily approved, Allan secured Poe's release from the army and his appointment to
West Point but refused to provide financial support. After six months Poe apparently contrived to
be dismissed from West Point for disobedience of orders. His fellow cadets, however, contributed
the funds for the publication of Poems by Edgar A. Poe.
Poe next took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her
daughter, Virginia, and turned to fiction as a way to support himself. In 1832 the Philadelphia
Saturday Courier published five of his stories, all comic or satiric. Poe, his aunt, and Virginia
moved to Richmond in 1835, and he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and
married Virginia, who was not yet fourteen years old. His contributions undoubtedly increased the
magazine's circulation, but they offended its owner, who also took exception to Poe's drinking.
In New York City, then in Philadelphia and again in New York Poe sought to establish
himself as a force in literary journalism, but with only moderate success. He did succeed,
however, in formulating influential literary theories and in demonstrating mastery of the forms he
favored, highly musical poems and short prose narratives. The tale Poe considered his finest, “The
Fall of The House of Usher,” which was to become one of his most famous stories.
Virginia's death in January 1847 was a heavy blow, but Poe continued to write and lecture.
In the summer of 1849 he revisited Richmond, lectured, and was accepted anew by the fiancee he
had lost in 1826. After his return north he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street. In a brief
obituary the Baltimore Clipper reported that Poe had died of congestion of the brain.
The short story is a prose narrative that can be told or read on a single occasion. It is
believed to be the oldest form of prose fiction. Originating with primitive accounts of
supernatural encounters, short narratives have existed in the form of parables, fairy tales, folk
tales, legends, and fables throughout history. Edgar Allan Poe perfected what has come to be
known as the classic form, as opposed to the later hard-boiled form developed in the 1920s. The
classic form is the story in which a seemingly impossible crime has been committed and the
detective relies on his or her superior perception, intellect, and often arcane knowledge to solve
the mystery.

The fall of The House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe’s, “ The Fall of the House of Usher” takes on the same basic literary
themes as do most of his stories, suspense imparticular. However, he also uses the supernatural in
this story as well. Poe’s vast description enables the reader to place himself with the narrator, and
get a better feeling of what is truly going on with the story. Using a nameless narrator allows the
reader to use his imagination on to what the narrator looks like; is it the reader himself? Poe? or a
figment of Poe’s imagination? That is to forever be unknown. However, it is also part of the
reason Poe’s work has become the superlative of the short story.
The story takes place mainly in the House of the Usher family, the exact location in is not
mentioned, however, the surroundings seem very gloomy; the house itself is described as
decaying, Poe obviously was trying to give the reader a mental image of a dark, immense, house,
isolated from the world.
Throughout the story, Poe's imagery of the house and the inanimate objects inside serve to
give a supernatural atmosphere to the story. By giving inanimate objects almost life-like
characteristics, he is giving the house a supernatural quality. This supernatural element serves to
make Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher” interesting and suspenseful in his treatment of the
house's effect on its inhabitants. It also allows the house to become, in my opinion, the most
important character of the story, although it is inanimate. However, three tangible characters play
the decisive role in this story: Lady Madeline, Roderick Usher, and the un-named narrator.
Lady Madeline, the twin sister of Roderick Usher, is introduced as a character, however,
never speaks a word throughout the entire story. In fact, she is absent from most of the book. Poe
seems to present her as a ghostlike figure. Lady Madeline had the tendency to roam the house, not
taking notice to anything, or anyone. According to the narrator, Lady Madeline "passed slowly
through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed [his] presence,
disappeared. At the narrator's arrival, she goes to her bedroom and falls into a catatonic state.
The narrator, after the decision that she is not waking up, helps bury and put her away in a vault,
however, with her reappearance, he flees. It becomes apparent that Madeline had fallen to the
mental disorder which seems to plague the House of Usher.
Roderick Usher, the old child hood friend of the narrator, and head of the house, plays a
rather distinctive role in the story. He comes from a rather wealthy family in which he now stakes
claim to the family money. Roderick, as the narrator tells the reader, had once been an attractive
man. However, his appearance deteriorated over time. At first meeting with Roderick, the
narrator spoke of the radical change in his friends appearance, to the point in which "I doubted to
whom I spoke." Roderick's altered appearance probably was caused by his insanity. The narrator
notes various symptom from which he bases his opinion that Roderick is not mentally sane:
excessive nervous agitation. His actions were alternately vivacious and sullen, his voice varied
rapidly from a tremulous indecision. Roderick's state worsens throughout the story. He becomes
increasingly restless and unstable, especially after the burial of his sister. He is not able to sleep
and claims that he hears noises. Generally, Roderick is an unstable man, his capability to remain
sane is far gone at the point in which he is introduced.
The narrator, although he remains nameless, appears to be a man of common sense. He
shows his good heartedness in going to help an old child hood friend, whom he has lost contact
with prior to the letter sent by Roderick. With his arrival to the house, he observes Usher and
concludes that his friend has a mental disorder. He looks for natural scientific explanations for
what Roderick senses. The narrator's tone throughout the story suggests that he cannot
understand Usher. Oddly enough, it becomes obvious in the beginning of the story that the
narrator is superstitious. When he looks upon the house, even before he met Roderick Usher, he
observes "There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition. "
When he and Roderick go down to bury Madeline, he speculates that she may not be completely
dead yet. However, rather than mentioning his suspicion to his friend, he remains silent and
continues the burial. The narrator comes across as more of a practical man, trying to dismiss
strange occurrences as coincidence, or natural occurrences. For example, when Roderick claims
that there are ghosts in the house, the narrator feels fear too, but he dismisses Roderick's and his
own fear by attributing them to a natural cause. In the end, this fear finally overcomes him.
The three characters of course are unique people with distinct characteristics, but they are
tied together by the same type of mental disorder. All of them suffer from insanity, yet each
responds differently. Lady Madeline seems to accept the fact that she is insane and continues her
life with that knowledge. Roderick Usher appears realize his mental state and struggles very hard
to hold on to his sanity. The narrator, who is slowly but surely contracting the disease, wants to
deny what he sees, hears, and senses. Unlike the other two characters, however, he escapes the
insanity that is, The House of Usher.
In The Fall of the House of Usher has an unusual conflict occurring. Unlike most stories,
the conflict does not fall between to animate objects, instead it falls between man, and a inanimate
object, a house. Although the conflict is not coming from the house itself, however, more the
supernatural beings which inhabit it. They do, however, reflect themselves upon the house. In this
case, the house and its beings which inhabit it, reign over the characters.
In the story, "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe explores the inner workings of the
human imagination but, at the same time, cautions the reader about the destructive dangers which
can result from it. When fantasy suppresses reality, as in Roderick's case, what results is madness
and the decay of mental stability. Madeline's return and death reunites the twin natures of their
single being. The focus of this story is the narrator's reaction to and understanding of these
strange events. To look into the dark imagination where fantasy becomes reality is to evoke
madness and loss of stability. The narrator has made a journey into the unknown world of the
mind and is nearly destroyed by it.
The Masque of The Red Death
The story covers a period of approximately six months during the reign of the Red Death.
The action takes place in the deep seclusion of the main charactor, Prince Prospero’s castle, in
which he has invited the higher standing people of his village. Here these people will stay until the
Red Death has passed the town by. In party, food, wine and dancing, they will all live, while the
lower class townspeople die. The masque takes place in the imperial suite which consisted of
seven, very distinct rooms.
This story has no characters in the usual sense which stand out in order to give the story a
more in-depth view to the characters . The only character whom speaks is Prince Prospero. His
name suggests happiness and good fortune, however, ironically that is not the case. Within the
Prince's abbey, he has created a world of his imagination with masked figures that reflect his own
personal tastes. These dancers are all a product of the Prince's imagination, Poe refers to them as
"a multitude of dreams." Even when the "Red Death" enters, Poe refers to this character as figure
or a mummer who "was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the
grave.”
The conflict in this story is very obvious. On the surface it is apparent that conflict is
between the “Red Death” and the people within the castle. However, an underlying conflict can be
seen if approached correctly. In my opinion, the conflict can be seen as one between those who
feel that their lives are more precious then others, therefor they try to escape death by secluding
themselves from those with less money and lower social status.
I find the theme of this story to be the most noticeable of all compared to other works of
Poe. Poe, without question, is trying to show that no one escapes death. Human happiness, as
represented by Prince Prospero, seeks to wall out the threat of death. Death comes like a thief is
the night, without warning. Obviously, this is shown in the story, for no walls, money, or time was
going to save these people from the inevitable appearance of the red death.
Poe, for the most part, uses an allegory as the literary theme in “The Masque of the Red
Death.” I do not see the story as one intended to scare or keep the reader in suspense, however,
more to leave the reader with a message concerning death, and trying to prevent the inevitable.
Very little description is used throughout the story, excluding the descripti

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