An Essay on Edgar Allen Poe

Aiko Heiwa

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An essay on Edgar Allen Poe for my Language Arts Class

Edgar Allen Poe explored various themes in his works. Poe explored the similarities between the emotions of love and hate in many of his works, the most prominent of which is “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “William Wilson”. Poe shows that these two supposedly opposite emotions actually blend into each other. The psychological torture of narrator is the result of him both loving himself and hating his rival.

In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator’s torture comes from his simultaneous love of the old man he takes care of and the hatred of the vulture eye that the old man has. This results in the narrator murdering the old man, whilst thinking he only destroyed the evil eye, he murdered the person he loved.

This torture shows that that love and hatred are inseparable and depend on each other.

In many of Poe’s tales of horror, the characters wage internal conflicts by creating alter egos or assuming alternate and opposite personalities. In “The Black Cat”, the narrator turns from a gentle animal lover to an evil kitty killer. The horror from “The Black Cat” derives from the narrator’s killing of his cat Pluto, who is reincarnated as the second cat, which haunts the narrator’s guilty conscience.

Although the narrator tries to forget the murder of his cat, the gallows appear as the colour of Pluto’s fur, this causes the narrator to go insane and murder his wife.

In several of Poe’s stories and poems, it shows the power of the dead over the living, in “Ligeia”, the man still grieves over his dead wife, even when he sleeps with his new wife. His love for his dead wife shows that love can resist the permanence of death.

In many of Poe’s murder stories, Poe uses animalistic acts to emphasize murder. Animals kill, they fight, it all emphasizes murder and animalistic acts of cruelty. Animals signal the absence of human reason and morality, although, sometimes, humans prove to be more cruel then their beastly counterparts.

In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the narrator’s goal is to separate the old man from the evil vulture eye, which he describes as being “pale-blue, with a film over it”, the narrator attempts to justify is actions by likening himself to a helpless animal threatened by a large predator.

In some of Poe’s stories and poems, characters use masquerade to leave themselves vulnerable to crime. Masquerade carries the traditional meanings of joy and social liberation. Reality is suspended and people can temporary assume other identities. In “William Wilson”, the masquerade is where the narrator receives his double insult. At a masquerade party where all the guests wear exotic and extravagant costumes, whilst the narrator and his double don the same Spanish outfit. This double Wilson comforts the narrator enough to anonymously murder his double.

In “The Masque of Death”, the guest dressed showing the bloody effects of the Red Death mocks the horror of the party in the midst of the suffering peasants. This allows him to enter the party and kill his victims one by one.
 
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Poe = awesome

never forget
 
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