Poe's Style, While Not Unique, Research Paper


Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld, and Poe is foreshadowing a hellish and horrific experience for the narrator. He also sets up an expectation in the reader and truly tests the thin but palpable sympathetic emotional response that is built in the opening lines of the story. He foreshadows the narrator's actions by stating subtly that the narrator has begun to feel strangely as the story unfolds. The narrator states, "(I) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them.." The reader, now draw into the story, begins to feel like the narrator is not quite right, and the level of trust established with the reader is tested here. It is also quite frightening to witness the logical and moral decline of the narrator as he attempts to justify his actions, as they grow more and more atrocious. The climax of both stories contains similar literary devices and elements as well, as the conclusions leave the reader quite horrified and emotionally tormented. As time passes in "The Masque of the Red Death," the feeling that the Prince has made himself and his guests helpless by welding the gates to his compound shut begin to take on importance as the red masked stranger arrives. The red death is unstoppable because of the very efforts of the Prince to stop it, and the fear and helplessness that the reader feels are designed to leave an impression on the reader. The mystery and then true horror of the identity of the masked...


As in "The Black Cat," the ending of the story is horrible, but relieving in that the narrator finally (we assume) gets caught for his actions. The reader is left in suspense, or mystery until the very end when the villain (narrator, or in the case of "Masque," the prince) gets what is coming to them. The idea that anyone, no matter how smart they are or powerful they remain in their own mind cannot escape death, or the inevitable is comforting in the case of "The Black Cat" and frightening in "Masque." There is a certain sense of hopelessness, for each of the protagonists. The prince's own ignorance and naivety get the best of him and his guests and the bravado and boasting of the narrator in "The Black Cat" contribute to his demise. Another theme that runs in common in both stories is the feeling of being trapped. He prince and his guests were trapped, unknowingly in their compound with the red death and the narrator in "The Black Cat" was trapped by his own conscience or pride. Likewise, the second one-eyed cat was trapped with the narrator's murdered wife, begging the question of who was really ultimately trapped by his actions, the cat or the narrator?
Poe was truly as master at painting wonderful imagery for the reader while creating suspense. He used symbolism and metaphor to establish themes that run deeper than just the surface dialogue for both of his short stories. In both stories, the reader is left in suspense as Poe foreshadows the events that eventually unfold. There is so much wrapped up in each story, but even at face value Poe is able to both thrill and horrify the reader through the use of multiple literary devices.

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