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Edgar Allen Poe Review

1111 words - 5 pages

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Edgar Allen Poe: A Comparison of Two Short Stories
Edgar Allen Poe was a troubled author who suffered many tragedies during his lifetime, and reflected those tragic events throughout his many writings. Two of Poe’s short stories, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” are great examples of Poe’s ever present fear of death which was developed during his youth with the loss of his mother and wife. While both stories are similar, with each main character having to face the fear of impending death, the stories differ in the method with which Poe conveys his main ...view middle of the document...

Throughout the story, the narrator continues to compare his emotions and feelings to death itself, revealing the depth of his exhaustion and terror to be as consuming as eternal sleep (Poe, “The Pit” 24.).The narrator continuously faced one horrific method of death after another but refused to give up the hope of living. Edgar Allen Poe was able to immerse the reader in a constant state of suspense through the continual, detailed mental torture of the narrator. The dramatic effect begins to engage the reader from the beginning but really develops after the narrator falls into unconsciousness, then awakens in a pitch black chamber and begins to explore through the darkness. After accidentally finding a circular pit in the middle of his cell, he realized the horrible way in which he was meant to die and it left him “shaking in every limb” (Poe, “The Pit” 24). The narrator then retreats back to the wall where he started his exploration to avoid the “terrors of the well” that were meant for his doom (Poe, “The Pit” 24). With each escape from death, the narrator’s captors continued to torment him in a very slow, methodical way, which is far different from the delivery method utilized in “Masque of the Red Death.”
In “Masque of the Red Death”, the central theme of fear, while similar in nature to “The Pit and the Pendulum,” is delivered in a quick and direct method as opposed to slow and unrelenting. Poe used elaborate symbolism and vivid descriptions to paint a picture of the fear that the main character, Prince Prospero, had developed towards death. Prince Prospero feared the mysterious red death, which was running rampant throughout the country side, swiftly killing everyone it infected. The prince so feared the plague that he retreated to exile in an attempt to keep the plague from reaching him. His fear caused him to withdraw from society all together by barricading himself in a castellated abbey made of strong, lofty walls and iron gates so as to leave “no ingress or egress” (Poe, “Masque” 319). The barricade would prove to be futile and ultimately, to...

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