Edgar Allan Poe, a writer of the Dark Romanticism era, is known for his morbid and melancholy tales that reflect the popular beliefs of his time. He illustrates in his writings the darkside of humanity as well as man’s weaknesses in the face of death and loneliness. Although manyinterpret his style as frustrating writings of plain horror and pessimistic thoughts, there are nodoubts that his works create a mysterious world based on his own philosophies of fate and death. Poe advocates in his literary work the power of fate and death using allusions andmetaphors. Although many antagonists in Poe’s stories strive to escape from their destined fate,they cannot resist the scythe of death.
In “The Masque of the Red Death,?”? Prince Prospero choosesto throw an extravagant party when a plague spreads in the country and kills almost everyone.Behind the sealed doors of the castle, Prospero and his guests indulge in the luxury of the party,replacing pain and worries with pleasure, and hiding away their fear of the red death. “Theyresolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or frenzyfrom within.”(“The Masque of the red death”169).
The music, laughter, and wine are antidotesthat lessen their concerns of the external world and lull them into enjoying the masque. Thissymbolizes those who tried to convince themselves that they can outrun death, but immersingoneself in pleasure is nothing but a pacifying lie that barely conceals the real terror. Death is Zou1 undefeatable, it is foolish to think that indulging in pleasure can help to override death.
Moreover,Edgar Allan Poe also emphasizes this idea by adding supernatural features to the story. Forexample, Poe uses the gigantic ebony clock as a symbol that represents the calling of death. Hedescribes that ” when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face.
..there came from the brazenlungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep but so peculiar…
the musicians of theorchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance”(“The Masque of The RedDeath”170). Even though the banquet guests tried to quell their worries, it is their instinct to feardeath. The peculiar sound reminds them of death and the joyful atmosphere disappears. This showsthe destructiveness of death as it is able to destroy peacefulness and kill the cheerful atmosphere.Allan Poe then uses the clock to show that Prospero cannot escape death because it is everywhere,even when he seals the gates with iron and decorate the castle with colorful ornaments, he cannotprevent the arrival of death. The plot of the short story correspond to this idea when the figure ofred death kills Prospero and reclaims his dominance, ” one by one dropped the revellers in theblood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall” (“Masque ofThe Red Death”172).? ?The figure of the red death kills everyone in the halls as a punishment forthose who are too ambitious to ignore his power.
This proves that in the end all mankind are weakand powerless, and death will always take away the prosperity and happiness, leaving nothing leftbut despair. However, death is not the only thing that make man suffer, negative emotions bringeven more torments to people’s life. Edgar Allan poe further argues in his works that although death is an irresistible power thateveryone fears, the real horror is being trapped alone by one’s own doubts, fear, and despair. That isto say, Allan Poe reveals in his stories that loneliness is a more persistent torture than death.
In Zou2 many of Poe’s literary works, the narrator has to face all difficulties alone, which makes it harder tostay calm and sensible. In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”, the speaker grieves as he recallshis memories of his lost lover Lenore, but regardless of how much he suffers she will never returnto him. Being hurt by the death of Lenore, he sinks into a swamp of depression, the more hestruggles, the deeper it traps him.
His love for Lenore becomes the darkness that surrounds him,consuming on his conscious and driving him into madness, “Deep into that darkness peering/ LongI stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dreambefore/But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token/And the only word therespoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?” (“The Raven”25-30). The moment he opens the doorand sees nothing but darkness, his imagination dominates his mind and it creates fearful thoughtsthat scare him. This shows the narrator’s state of mind before the raven knock on his door, thechronic solitude numbs him and he begins to doubt the authenticity of what he is seeing or hearingas if everything is all part of a dream. When the black raven appears in front of his house, it createsa scene that is so peculiar and unreal that he fears loneliness is causing him to hallucinate. He thenwhispers “Lenore” after staring into the dark, which indicates that this weird situation remind himof her, signifying that her death is the cause of his madness.
Furthermore, as the speaker asks”Other friends have flown before, on the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flownbefore”(“The Raven”58-60), the raven responses “Nevermore”. This coincidentally answers thenarrator’s question and assures his thought that the ebony bird is a messenger that brings him thetruth. At this moment he realizes that he will never regain his lover and friends, this thought thendeepens his depression to a point where he completely loses all of his hope.
Thus, this story impliesthe idea that sometimes losing the people you love can be more painful than one’s own death. Zou3 Edgar Allan Poe creates a dark and gothic atmosphere as he focuses descriptions onemotions rather than the process of reasoning. Many of the characters in his story are insane, beingpushed to the edge of madness by their stress, guilt, and loneliness. With detailed descriptions ofthe narrator’s crazy state of mind, Edgar Allan Poe’s stories exhibit a classic dark romanticism stylethat rejects the rational and intellectual way of thinking.
In his short story “The Pit and thePendulum”, as a result of the being trapped in the dark, the narrator loses his senses and falls into astate in which he did not lose all of his conscious but is almost in a swoon. His body remainsimmovable but his mind wonders like in a dream. His feeling intensifies, emotions are all in a mix,but it pleases him that he feels something new. The narrator explains ” He who has never swooned,is not he who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that glow.
..is not he whosebrain grows bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrestedhis attention” (“The Pit and The Pendulum”174). This shows Poe’s tendency in favoring emotionaldescriptions rather than letting the characters think logically. In other words, Edgar Allan Poe isexplaining why emotions are important highlights of humanity. Emotions are dramatic, inspiringand tend to be a stronger motive than reasoning. It allows you to see the world in a new perspective,and one who is always rational will never be able to experience it. Furthermore, Poe brings hisreaders into the horror of the story when he describes the narrator’s fear in detail:” What boots it totell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal.
..I grew frantically mad, and struggled toforce myself upwards against the sweep of the fearful scimitar” (“The Pit and the Pendulum”178).As the scythe gets closer and closer to the speaker, fear tortures him emotionally and it feels worsethan a sudden death. Allan Poe describes the psychological state of the speaker explicitly, whichallows his reader to put himself in the speaker’s shoes.
Zou4 To conclude, the works of Edgar Allan Poe possess the remarkable power that achieves acommunication between the speaker and the reader, allowing the audience to actually feel and thinklike the characters in the stories. Although life is not all full of hopelessness and sadness, thepeculiarities of Poe’s stories and poems provide for his readers a unique adventure that explores aspecial way to look at the gloomy part of living. Additionally, it also resembles Poe’s ownexperiences as a man who loses hope and endures loneliness, he expresses his fear and pain throughhis works and that makes him incandescent in the history of American literature. Citation:Stevenson School.
?English 3 Reader?.