The Essence of Poe

Peter Akszterowicz Period#9 5/10/2008 The Essence of Poe At some point in their lives humans have felt excitement through experiencing fear. One of the many experiences is going on a rollercoaster at an amusement park. Edgar Allan Poe found this out when he first started writing and used it to his advantage to draw in the readers and keep them interested in the story. By adding suspense and creating mood, the stories kept the readers guessing and wanting to continue reading. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories he draws in the reader by using the elements of fear, suspense and mood.

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Unquestionably, fear is one of the main reasons Poe’s stories are so well known. “Poe achieves the universality of nightmare” (Bloom 10). It can obviously be seen that Poe’s stories are know for the strong use of fear. One of the more horrific stories Poe has written is “The Pit and the Pendulum. ” “I remember as a child, being badly upset and frightened out of sleep by the egregiously horrible ”The Pit and the Pendulum. ”” (Bloom 10). Poe’s stories are so bloodcurdling that children could not sleep after reading one of his works.

In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” the main character wants revenge on his rival and he brings him to his family’s catacombs to sample some wine and buries him alive. “[I was afraid] of being buried alive” (Bloom 10). Such is Poe’s imagination that any elements in his stories can cause children to fear anything. Nevertheless, Poe’s stories, focusing mainly on fear also use the element of suspense to draw the reader further into the story. In general, suspense is a part of most short stories; it is used to keep the reader interested in the narration.

Poe combines the use of suspense and fear and uses it as a tool to strengthen the whole story. Another one of Poe’s stories, “The Pit and the Pendulum” is a story where the reader wants to read more to see what is going to happen to the character as he awakes in a pitch black dungeon during the Spanish Inquisition. “”The Pit and the Pendulum” Amounts to an elaborate fantasy of burial alive, drawing its claustrophobic intensity from the sense of impending annihilation. ” (Bloom 79). The reader does not know what awaits the character, as the story continues more details are revealed and explained. The ending of “The Fall f the House of Usher” is suspenseful because the characters start hearing strange voices and the reader does not know what is going to happen, “horrible screaming or grating sound far off in the distance. ” (Bloom 17). The reader may expect that something terrible might happen, but cannot be certain, that is what makes the individual continue reading the story until the end. Impending doom of a character can be another reason an individual would be drawn in and continue to read a story. In the story “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The unconscious irony of Montresor’s redress of a wrong at his own expense. (Bloom 67). Montresor is doomed from the beginning of the story, but the reader continues to read in order to find out what happens at the end. Suspense can be used to create the mood of a story; Poe knew and exploited that to make the reader feel like they are in the story. The root of a story is mood, giving mood to the story builds up the suspense in a novel, where in return creates fear for the reader. “That “pestilent and mystic vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued” could be marketed as the Essence of Poe, if we bottled it. (Bloom 10). This could be one way to describe how Edgar Allan Poe creates mood for his stories, where the essence of Poe could portray the horrific nature of his stories and the bottle can be his stories. In “The Pit and the Pendulum” the narrator provides little evidence of himself, such as his nationality or religious beliefs, showing a mysterious mood to the story. At the beginning of the story, the narrator talks about his trial in apocalyptic imagery, entering into a nightmare world of punishment, dissolution, and death.

The mood of the story continues, and “concludes his tale with blaring trumpets, “fiery walls” and “a thousand thunders”, apocalyptic images that describes the narrator deliverance” (Malloy 154). “Even the most nonchalant reader admits that Edgar Allan Poe was more that a little interested in madness” (Stewart 80), madness could be the one thing that creates Poe’s mood. All of his stories have something in common and it the madness of someone in his stories, whether it be the insanity of being trapped, a thought of revenge, or the pleasure of killing, they all have madness within them.

Mood is a great aspect of a story, and because Poe is able to create such freighting moods in his stories he been known to be a great author. The short stories by Edgar Allan Poe use elements of fear, suspense and mood to draw in the reader. Poe uses fear to frighten his readers in order to satisfy their hunger for excitement. Mood was used to build up suspense and draw in the audience, and make them continue to read. Altogether those three elements were used very effectively by Poe in all of his well know writings.

All in all everyone that has read Poe’s stories will agree that they were drawn into the stories by the use of fear, suspense and mood created by Poe. Works Cited Bloom, Harold Bloom’s Major Short Story Writers. Pennsylvania: Broomall, 1999 Malloy, Jeanne M. The Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. California: San Diego, 2001 Stewart, Kate The Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe. California: San Diego, 2001 Kennedy, Gerald J. Modern Critical Interpretations The Tales of Poe. Chelsea House Publishers, 1987 Poe, Edgar Allan The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writing. New York: New York


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