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 dark side of humanity as well as man’s weaknesses in the face of death and loneliness. Although many interpret his style as frustrating writings of plain horror and pessimistic thoughts, there are no doubts 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 and metaphors.
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 chooses to 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. “They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or frenzy from within.” The music, laughter, and wine are antidotes that lessen their concerns of the external world and lull them into enjoying the masque. This symbolizes those who tried to convince themselves that they can outrun death, but immersing oneself in pleasure is nothing but a pacifying lie that barely conceals the real terror. Death is 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. For example, Poe uses the gigantic ebony clock as a symbol that represents the calling of death. He describes that ” when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face…there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep but so peculiar…the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance”. Even though the banquet guests tried to quell their worries, it is their instinct to fear death. The peculiar sound reminds them of death and the joyful atmosphere disappears. This shows the 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 cannot prevent the arrival of death. The plot of the short story correspond to this idea when the figure of red death kills Prospero and reclaims his dominance, ” one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall”. The figure of the red death kills everyone in the halls as a punishment for those who are too ambitious to ignore his power. This proves that in the end all mankind are weak and powerless, and death will always take away the prosperity and happiness, leaving nothing left but despair. However, death is not the only thing that make man suffer, negative emotions bring even more torments to people’s life. Edgar Allan poe further argues in his works that although death is an irresistible power that everyone fears, the real horror is being trapped alone by one’s own doubts, fear, and despair. That is to say, Allan Poe reveals in his stories that loneliness is a more persistent torture than death.
In many of Poe’s literary works, the narrator has to face all difficulties alone, which makes it harder to stay calm and sensible. In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”, the speaker grieves as he recalls his memories of his lost lover Lenore, but regardless of how much he suffers she will never return to him. Being hurt by the death of Lenore, he sinks into a swamp of depression, the more he struggles, 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/Long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before/But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token/And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ‘Lenore?”. The moment he opens the door and sees nothing but darkness, his imagination dominates his mind and it creates fearful thoughts that scare him. This shows the narrator’s state of mind before the raven knock on his door, the chronic solitude numbs him and he begins to doubt the authenticity of what he is seeing or hearing as if everything is all part of a dream. When the black raven appears in front of his house, it creates a scene that is so peculiar and unreal that he fears loneliness is causing him to hallucinate. He then whispers “Lenore” after staring into the dark, which indicates that this weird situation remind him of 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 flown before’, the raven responses “Nevermore”. This coincidentally answers the narrator’s question and assures his thought that the ebony bird is a messenger that brings him the truth. At this moment he realizes that he will never regain his lover and friends, this thought then deepens his depression to a point where he completely loses all of his hope. Thus, this story implies the idea that sometimes losing the people you love can be more painful than one’s own death. Edgar Allan Poe creates a dark and gothic atmosphere as he focuses descriptions on emotions rather than the process of reasoning. Many of the characters in his story are insane, being pushed to the edge of madness by their stress, guilt, and loneliness. With detailed descriptions of the narrator’s crazy state of mind, Edgar Allan Poe’s stories exhibit a classic dark romanticism style that rejects the rational and intellectual way of thinking. In his short story “The Pit and the Pendulum”, as a result of the being trapped in the dark, the narrator loses his senses and falls into a state in which he did not lose all of his conscious but is almost in a swoon. His body remains immovable 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 whose brain grows bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrested his attention”. This shows Poe’s tendency in favoring emotional descriptions rather than letting the characters think logically. In other words, Edgar Allan Poe is explaining why emotions are important highlights of humanity. Emotions are dramatic, inspiring and 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 his readers into the horror of the story when he describes the narrator’s fear in detail:” What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal…I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upwards against the sweep of the fearful scimitar”. As the scythe gets closer and closer to the speaker, fear tortures him emotionally and it feels worse than a sudden death. Allan Poe describes the psychological state of the speaker explicitly, which allows his reader to put himself in the speaker’s shoes. To conclude, the works of Edgar Allan Poe possess the remarkable power that achieves a communication between the speaker and the reader, allowing the audience to actually feel and think like the characters in the stories. Although life is not all full of hopelessness and sadness, the peculiarities of Poe’s stories and poems provide for his readers a unique adventure that explores a special way to look at the gloomy part of living. Additionally, it also resembles Poe’s own experiences as a man who loses hope and endures loneliness, he expresses his fear and pain through his works and that makes him incandescent in the history of American literature.
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can order our professional work here.