INTRODUCTION OF AMERICAN LITERATUREAmerican literature is the literature written orproduced in the area of the United States and its previous colonies The United States was influenced by English literature beforethe United States was founded.
In this way, the American literary was becamedivision of the narrow tradition of English literature. Nonetheless, it is considered to be a separate literarytradition ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 toOctober 7, 1849) was an American writer,poet, critic and editor best known for evocative short stories and poems thatcaptured the imagination and interest of readers around the world. Many ofPoe’s famous short stories are “TheTell-Tale Heart” (1843), “The Cask ofAmontillado” (1846) and “The Fall ofthe House of Usher” (1839),and his famous poems, “The Raven” (1845) “The Pit and the Pendulum” and many more.Edgar Allan Poe was ameticulous writer who was devoted to his work, invented two genres: the mysterystory and the horror story.
Both forms have flourished ever since. He was amoody, sensitive person whose stories and poems dwell on the supernatural andon crime, torture, premature burial, and death. His writing, which brought himlittle comfort or security, reflects the dark, nightmare side of theimagination. He was indeed, most unfortunate in his parents.
His father, DavidPoe, was an ordinary travelling actor who drank heavily. His mother, ElizabethArnold, was a talented actress who was abandoned by her husband when Edgar wasstill baby. She was passed away leaving Edgar in an orphanage at the age ofthree years old.Poe was considered as alegend of popular culture. Here are the proofs that Edgar Allan Poe is a veryfamous American poet of all time. Poe’s works have been translated intodifferent languages and Stephen King, one of the popular writers point to Poeas their literary forefather. Also he was considered as The Mystery Writers ofAmerica with great achievements in mystery writing. There is no doubt that mostof the readers who loves mysterious and scary stories cherished the works ofEdgar Allan Poe.
DISCUSSION:Edgar Allan Poe is most known for his subject matter that he tends to writeabout crazy people, violence, and scary events. He is the first American writerthat writes a horror stories or poems. Poe is the first one who really seemsfocused not just on unpleasant things but on communicating. The unpleasantnessof those things and its visceral manner. Most of his themes are sadness, loss, violenceand madness that tells a lot about Poe’s writing styles.
Poe is known for writing and using a number oftechniques very prominently. One is the use of the first person narrator.This is a technique that is commonly used by Poe to help the reader not only tomake the reader feel the character’s emotions, but also get into the head ofthe main character. We are automatically feel a connection with the character.The repetition of the word “I” in the first person narrationmakes the reader feel that he/she is the one who is experiencing the events andbuilt a deeper connection to the narrator. He does this to show the reader thathe shares the feelings and thoughts of the character. Most of his stories aretold in the first person and that is the narrator is active in the story as acharacter and usually the main character in Poe’s case and this as what happensin The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart.
This allows Poe toget up close and personal with the emotions of his characters particularly ofthe narrator. He came up with crazily hyperbolic ways of putting his charactersunder pressure like live burials, torture, murder etc. It puts the reader upclose and personal with some very disturbing people who are feeling, thinkingand doing some disturbing things.
Poe was interested in really extremesituations because he believed that the real person is the person that shows upunder pressure. The first personnarrator is a very effective way for him to show that to us. For example, inThe Tell-Tale heart the narrator, who was previously established to becompulsive and paranoid, becomes floored by an auditory hallucination. He thinkshe hears the master’s heart still beating beneath the floor and becomes soirritated that he rips up the floor boards, exposing the body to the police.The feelings of compulsivity and paranoia by the narrator is shown by hisreaction to the hallucination. “Oh God!What could I do? I foamed – I raved – I swore! I swung the chair upon theboards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased.
He grew louder– louder – louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was itpossible they heard not? Almighty God! – no, no! they heard! – they suspected!– they knew!” the narrator in The Cask of the Amontillado and The Tell-TaleHeart are both very ill, but it allows Poe to provide the reader with acarefully composed point of view. The second thing that he usesis the unreliable narrator. Many times he shows us really quickly thatwe can’t trust what the narrator is saying. The classic example is TheTell-Tale Heart. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poeis a major element of gothic literature, in which shows the main theme ofdementia or insanity. This theme of insanity is develop over the course of thestory by Poe’s style of gothic writing.
Gothic fiction is often characterizedby fear, horror and death. It is very suspenseful and produces an intensiveemotions in their characters and gives intense emotions in the reader. TheTell-Tale Heart is in the first person point of view. It is considered to beone of the weirdest short story due to a creepy narrator. Most of the readerswould felt scary after reading. It is created by a narrator who may or may notin his right mind or insane.
Poealso uses punctuations to make a point in his story. He uses correctpunctuations to feel the readers the effect of the sentence. This can be seenin the first sentence of the short story “TheTell-Tale Heart”. “True! – nervous – very, very dreadfullynervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” In here,the dashes take place the comma to create the tension of the story on the firstline. He wants to prove to the readers that he is sane.
The narrator spends the first half of thestory telling us,” I’m not mad no reallyI’m not crazy”, he states this to the readers for them to believe him thathe is sane, he is in his right mind. It becomes very clear to the reader thathe is crazy as the story goes by. Third, he uses of irony in the beginning ofthe story to prove to the reader that he is not mad and he also admits that hehas an acute sense of hearing. He proves it by stating in his story, “I heard all things in the heaven and in theearth. I heard many things in hell.” By trying to prove his sanity it meansthat this line is very ironic. He reveals that he hears voices that the otherpeople won’t able to hear. The more he protests, the more we are certain thathe is crazy.
By having an unreliable narrator especially one that we recognizequickly is the writing style of Poe. Poe increases the suspense for the readerand he leaves us in a state where we are questioning what is real and what isnot. We are tied to lost ourselves, we do not know for sure what to do.
Thenarrator is our guide, we can’t trust them what do we believe. It forces us tomake decisions for ourselves, just like when you are talking to a person inreal life. You have to judge them based on their mannerisms and based on theirtone of voice. Whether you can trust them or not especially if you are readingthem. The way we are just meeting these narrators when we open the story. Thethird technique we are going to look is that Poe writes in a very rhythmicfashion. When we are talking about his poetry we will see that he never doesthe free verse.
He doesn’t just choose a rhythm and a meter. He chooses verycomplex and specific meters and he is almost nursery rhyme like in his existenceon never changing the meter. The unique intent for alliteration and rhyme isdemonstrated in one of his most famous poems “The Raven” it has the sound of a lyric, but, actually, it is anarrative poem with plot that leads the reader from curiosity to horror.
In hispoem, “The Raven” pushes Poe’s motiveto disturb the readers. The poem opens with what will become one of Poe’s mostfamous quotes, “Once upon a midnightdreary, while I pondered, weak and weary”. This rhyme scheme begins todevelop throughout the entire poem. This rhythm is very strict rhythm that heuses and it is very complex and very typical of his poetry. In “The Raven”, a student is reading in hischamber on a stormy night dreaming of his dead wife and he hears a sound at hisdoor. He opens the door to admit a raven, which speaks only one word, “nevermore”, in response to everyquestion he asks it.
The skillful use of repetition occurs with the refrain, “nevermore”, brings a mournfulresponse within the narrator and it is important element in the rhymescheme of the poem. The narratorknows whatever he asks, the raven will bare the same response, but he’s stillforced to continue to engage the raven as humans have a need for self-torture.The poem comes to a natural end when the suffering of the narrator built up toits most extreme level. Poe paid as much attention to the sound of his words ashe did to their sense. His skillful use of rhythm, repetition and other sound effects strengthenthe emotional effect of his story.
.”An example of sound effects is TheRaven and it is one of the reasons why this poem became so popular becauseof its catchy in the way a song can be. Like many songs, poem uses evocativerhythms, clever rhymes, alliteration, and other sound effects. These elementsmakes the poem to be in urgent need of oral interpretation.
The following passage in his short story “The Pit and the Pendulum”, therepetition of words and consonants and the slow, steady rhythm of the longsentences reflect the relentless, downward movement of the blade. “Inch by inch – lineby line – with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages– down and still down it came! Days passed – it mighthave been that many days passed – ere it swept soclosely over me as to fan me with its acrid breath”.Shakespeare spends more time using similes and metaphors to describe thingssame as Poe. These long descriptions in Poe can sometimes leave the modernfeeling a little confused or frustrated. In writing in Poe’s style, he includetons of sensual details which means details communicated by the five senses andhe uses lots of figurative language, simile, metaphor, personification and justshove it all. Another thing that Poe does with almost all of his narrators arespeaking to the reader as if they are telling the story.
Poe uses simileto compare a beating heart of the old man’s heart of a drum before battle. “It increased my fury as the beating of thedrum stimulates the soldier into courage.” The heart beat caused his furyto increase just as a drum beat increases a soldier’s courage. Poe also uses ironyin this line because the narrator is comparing his fury to a soldier’s courage.They might ask rhetorical question or other things, so it is a veryconversational narration and he likes to make the dialogue or the speech of thenarrator not that they’re the same thing.
The dialogue as one of the speech ofthe narrator is the narration he likes to make it very emotional as a storygets more intense. The person telling the story will get more intense and oftenthis means that he starts shortening his sentences, they get choppy, lots ofdashes, jumpy and moving back and forth. This means that Poe uses ofintensification of energy and emotion for his characters. I noticed a number ofother things that he does. He loves to use big words. If he can pull out onefancy word that a normal person would communicate with a phrase or a clause hewill do it. Poe is someone that when you first exposed to read one of his workyou will probably want to read with a thesaurus so that you can look up wordsthat you do not know.
There are some words when I read The Tell-Tale Heart thatI don’t know. I have spent a lot of time searching for the words that I do notunderstand in a dictionary. Poe had a tremendous vocabulary and he liked to showit off. So if I’m going to imitate Poe’s writing style I might try pulling athesaurus out and look for a fancier alternatives to some of the simple wordsthat we naturally use to spice up the story to make it a little more Poe like.The other thing that Poe does in addition to rhythm is all kinds of soundeffects in his poetry. He loves to use alliteration which is the repetitionof consonant sounds, usually at the beginnings of words.
Poe uses alliterationfor sound effects. In Poe’s, The Pit andPendulum, “With a steadymovement – cautious, sidelong, shrinking, and slow — I slidfrom the embrace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar.”As you have notice in this sentence how the swishing, hissing “s” sounds reproduce the hissing soundof the blade as it swings over the prisoner. In Poe’s poem The Raven, the narrator uses alliteration to describe the raven.
Agood example of alliteration is in line 71, where the hard g is repeated fourtimes, almost resulting in a tongue twister: “this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt andominous bird of yore”. In here, the repetitive of the hard “G” pushes thefeeling across that the narrator is disturbed by the bird, and the guttural ‘G”sound confirms the narrator anxiety of the bird. An example of his assonancecan be seen in his story The Tell-Tale Heart, linking different wordsis seen and heard in this line, “Overmany a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. While I nodded, nearlynapping, suddenly there came a tapping as of someone gently rapping, rapping atmy chamber door is some visitor, I muttered, tapping at my chamber door onlythis nothing more”. In here the line: “volumeof forgotten lore”. Poe connected with two different examples of assonancewith the word forgotten.
This word contains the same or sound as the first twowords and the same or sound as the last word. CONCLUSIONPoecertainly was able to write in a way which attracted most readers. I believepart of his success in prose was related to his great ability as a poet. Suchdevices that he uses in his writing style in most of his great works are thefirst person point of view, the unreliable narrator, the use of proper punctuationmarks, lots of dashes, figurative language such as simile, assonance,alliteration and irony etc. which was common to the other poets and Poe was oneof the best. Poe was able to use his broad knowledge he has to create the greateffect that he desired in his works. His works are still applied for over 100years later because he gives happiness his readers especially for those wholoves to read such stories with a theme of scary and creepy stories.
It can bealso haunts the readers and felt scared after they had read one of his shortstories or poems. If only Edgar Allan Poe is still alive nowadays I wouldrather meet him personally to ask some questions regarding on his gothic styleof writing. I really love to read some scary stories that is why even if Poewas already dead he was still the best poet I’ve ever known.