The writer which I have chosen to research is Edgar Allen Poe. After reading one of his works, I realized that his mysterious style of writing greatly appealed to me. Although many critics have different views on Poe's writing style, "Poe has an uncanny talent for exposing our common nightmares and hysteria lurking beneath our carefully structured lives. ." (Bloom, 7) I hope to examine Edgar Allen Poes' use of setting and narration in his writing.
In many of Poe's works, setting is used to paint a dark and gloomy picture in our minds. I think that this was done deliberately by Poe so that the reader can make a connection between darkness and death. For example, in the "Pit and the Pendulum" (Poe, 401), the setting is originally pitch black. As the story unfolds, we see how the setting begins to play an important role in how the narrator discovers the many ways he may die. Although he must rely on his senses alone to feel his surroundings, he knows that somewhere in this dark, gloomy room, that death awaits him. "Though he lives on the brink of the pit, on the very verge of the plunge into unconsciousness, he is still unable to disengage himself from the physical and temporal world. The physical oppresses him in the shape of lurid graveyard visions; the temporal oppresses him in the shape of an enormous and deadly pendulum. It is altogether appropriate, then, that this chamber should be constricting and cruel!
ly angular" (Wilbur, 63).
Setting is also an important characteristic is Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". The images he gives us such as how both the Usher family and the Usher mansion are crumbling from inside waiting to collapse, help us to connect the background with the story. "Poe is able to sustain an atmosphere which is dark and dull. This is one of the tricks which he largely derived from the tradition of the Gothic tale" (Buranelli, 79). The whole setting in the story provides us with a feeling of melancholy. The Usher mansion appears vacant and barren. The same is true for the narrator. As we picture in our minds the extreme decay and decomposition, we can feel though the life around it is also crumbling.
Narration is also an element in Poe's short story style that appears to link all of the stories together. He has a type of creativity which lets the reader see into the mind of the narrator or the main character of the story. Many of the characters in Poe's stories seem to be insane. The narrator often seems to have some type of psychological problems. For example, In Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" (Poe, 323) the story opens with a first person narrator (Montresor) speaking about the planning of Fortunato's death. By the anger and remorse that Montresor has for Fortunato, one might think that this was a recent incident. It is not until the very end of the story that we realize, that the entire event occurred fifty years ago. "To the characters in Poe's story, hate is as inordinate as live. The lust of hate is the inordinate desire to consume and unspeakably possess the soul of the hated one, just as the lust of live is the desire to possess or be possessed be the bel!
oved, utterly. " (Lawrence, 33). Poe's stories often have narrators that feel extreme hate or extreme love for another character in the story.
Another example of Poe's narrative style is seen in his story entitled," The Black Cat"(Poe, 280), where the narrator seems to have an obsession with pets. He has one "special" pet which is a black cat. Although their original relationship with each other is one of respect and love, the situation soon changes. The narrator becomes somewhat possessed with the hate for the car. He turns against his wife and stabs his cat in the eye. By the end of the story, he killed his wife in an attempt to kill the cat. Afterwards, the narrator does not even feel remorse for the wrongful death of his wife. Instead, he is just happy that the cat disappeared. This is just another instance in which the reader wonders what is the driving force begins