Selected Works of Edgar Allan Poe Critical Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2019/09/23


Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best prominent writers whose work are continually appreciated by all generations in time immemorial, with often obsessive and gothic themes in Edgar Allan Poe’s work, they have had a hug e significant influence in the literature of America. In this paper I have selected some of his works and explained the impressive features of each in relation to their plots and design. This explains a clear reason for one to love his literature works. I have chosen carefully the works that illuminate Poe’s prolific and short carrier among them prefaces, reviews and correspondence by Poe as well as pieces of themes dealing with transcendentalism and alternative romanticism, sensation fiction, sciences of mind and the south of slavery. This paper therefore takes plot of these selected works as the aspect and point of the mind and the south and the slavery. This paper takes plot of these selected works as the aspect of point of concentration throughout the document to explain the impressive bits of the general works.


The first work is the Masque of the Red Death, a short story that mainly focuses on a dauntless and happy prince Prospero, who attempts to escape a harmful plague-the Red Death, a disease where the victim becomes totally convulsive and sweats blood instead of water and kills within half an hour, by hiding in his castellated abbey. With him in the Abbey’s masquerade ball are a thousand wealthy nobles who have come to seek refuge. The masquerade ball is decorated with many different colors. In the middle of their noisy lively enjoyment, an unexplained figure enters the abbey and makes goes through each of the room. Prospero decides to confront this stranger and falls dead on the floor. Gothic fiction takes the centre stage in the story and is often seen as an allegory about how death is inevitable. There are many interpretations about the red death, as well as trials to know the truth about the red death plague

Poe uses a lot of conventions mainly the traditional gothic fiction and the setting of a castle. The seven single toned rooms represent the human mind and showing the difference in personalities. Imagery of blood and time shows corporeality. The red death represents the attributes of human life including mortality. This shows that the entire story is allegorical and shows how it’s of no use to escape or shut down death. However some critics try to shun down the ideology of allegories and instead concentrate on Poe’s acceptance distaste for didacticism in writing. In the story Poe does not exclusively show any sign of morals. Blood and the red color emphasized the throughout the story is a symbol for both life and death they are highly emphasized by the masked figure-that was never stated to be the red death but a symbol of the red death- making it first appearance in the eastern side of the abbey’s rooms and is colored blue a color that is well defined to represent birth.

The walled abbey was supposed to be a protective location, to keep the illness away. The structure is oppressive and maze like design.

The story amazes me because prince Prospero the one that was in fear of the plague is the same person who goes to confront it when it enters the room. The prince is also aware that the disease is viral and contagious but still goes to the act of inviting the nobles from different places gives them a masquerade ball not knowing that they might have contracted the disease.

The second work of Allan Poe where I found interest was the murders in the rue morgue (1841), a character in Paris by the name Auguste Dupin is the man who tries to solve mysterious cold blood murder of two women. There are various witnesses who heard a suspect though they don’t agree on what language was spoken. Dupin finds a hair on the murder scene that does not seem to be that of human. Poe uses a model of a super brilliant detective and the personal friend serves as the narrator. The final findings are also revealed before the thinking that leads up to it. There is murder of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter in a fictional street-Rue Morgue. The mother’s throat is cut nearly to separate with her body and her daughter strangled and stuffed in a chimney. The two era murdered on the fourth floor of inaccessible room locked from inside, neighbors give contradictory statements claiming to hear the murderer speak a language not familiar with them.  A man named Adolphe Le Bon has been imprisoned without evidence pointing at his guilt. This makes Dupin intrigued that he volunteer to give “G” a policeman his services. Because the neighbors claim not to have heard any sensible conversation on the murder house, Dupin concludes that the hearing was no human voice and the hair he found was not human. He therefore goes to advertise in the newspaper if any one has lost an ourang otang. The call is answered by a sailor and dupin goes to ask him questions about the murder incident. The sailor answers that the animal had escaped from captivity with the sailor’s shaving razor and entered an apartment’s window in Rue Morgue. The ourang otang attempted to shave the Madame by imitating its master’s daily routine, the deed incited fury and unfortunately it strangled the madame’s daughter to death, fearing its master’s whip, the animal fled after an attempt to hide the daughter’s body on a chimney. The sailor got aware of the brutal murder, panicked and ran away.

The impressive bit of this work is the way the ourang otang wanted to shave the Madame and by use of force if the Madame refuses to comply. The other thing is that the sailor is aware of the death caused by his creature and yet he remains foolish by turning up to collect his ourang otang. What one can learn about the story is that: a person shouldn’t be judged without material evidence in the case Adolphe. When also we decide to help it should not be for the purpose of financial gain but by the act of true spirit of integrity

The third work of Edgar Allan Poe which I selected was The Oval Portrait.

This is a story that revolves around a portrait in Chateau. The story begins the narrator; who is left in a mansion and is seeking refuge. He admires the art work decorations in the room and goes through a book that criticizes the paintings. He goes on to find a painting which shocks him due to its extreme realism and spends like an hour with it, he looks at it in a silent awe till he cannot look at it any further. He seeks consultation from the book for further explanation. The picture was painted by an artist depicting his young bride, the artist paid attention too much to the painting till he forgot to pay attention  to the woman he was painting, after finishing the painting and turning to his wife, he discovers that she had died but her spirit is transformed into the life like painting. Confusion between relationship and artwork takes the centre stage where art and its addiction are depicted as ultimate killers with the sole responsibility of killing the young bride.

Morals and lessons learned is that the relationship between art and life is considered as rivalry. What impresses me so much with the story is the most poetic heading the beauty of the woman kills her. Art reveals an artist’s guilt, he feeds on it but it can also kill the life he modeled in the art.

I also selected Poe’s work of the Tell-Tale Heart (1843). This is a story of un-named narrator who is certain that he is sane but murders an old man with some secret power kind of “vulture eye”. He carefully plans for the murder and after doing it he hides the body under the the floorboards. It’s not certain the kind of relationship the murderer and the old man had but the old man is considered a father figure, and the narrator seems to work for the old man as a servant. The lack of clearness and poor details about the main characters has a sharp contrast to the certain plot details thus leading to the murder. The narrator is said to suffer from a disease that causes over-acuteness of senses. The old man posses a pale blue eye that appears likes that one of a vulture which stresses the narrator and makes him to plan for the murder. The blue eye can be seen as parental surveillance and the tough principles that guardians always have on their children, this is what the narrator hates most. The narrator really loves the old man and his actions but he only hates the blue eye. He has been on the plot to kill the old man for seven nights but everyday when he goes to the old man’s room, he finds the vulture eye always closed making it impossible to kill him. The eighth day he finds the old man awake and doesn’t draw back and kills him then concealing the body under the floorboard. The old man’s yells during the attack made the neighbors to report the matter to the police. The narrator goes on courageously to invite the three officers to look around for any evidences since he was very confident. He puts the chairs just on the spot where the old man’s body was concealed and goes on to tell the officers that the old man is out of the country. A faint noise that grows louder is heard by the narrator as if it’s the old man’s heartbeat coming from under the floorboards, after constant and steady sounds of the heartbeat, the narrator confesses of killing the old man and tells the officers to open up the floorboard to remove the body.

Impression created by the story

Though the story is somehow not clear but we understand that evil will never go unpunished and evil haunts as seen by the narrator explaining how the murder haunted him day and night. Terror makes the narrator to admit his guilt in the process of explaining his sanity. Some of the things to prove that the narrator was insane is that after making sure that the old man is dead, how possible could he have heartbeats again?

In another Allan Poe’s work, Premature Burial, The narrator tries to explain his experience of regular attacks with a single disorder called catalepsy-a condition where the patient occasionally fall in death –like trance. The falling into death-like trance leads to the fear of being buried alive. The narrator mentions a group of people who have suffered the same disorder and have been buried alive. The narrator’s condition makes him to slip into the trance state of unconsciousness. He had the phobia of falling into that state when he is away from home since the disorder has grown worse over time. The condition forces the narrator to build a tomb and he tells his relatives and friends not to burry him permanently. The tomb has equipment that allows him to signal others incase he wakes up from his “death”.

The story reaches the climax when the narrator awakens in the paramount of total darkness in a confined area. He notices that his precautions were not put into practice and starts to cry out. He is only to be removed in berth of a boat and not grave. He is shocked with his obsession towards death. I was particularly impressed by the story as the truth can be terrifying more than fiction especially if there is evidence that what has been said has always happened

I also selected The Gold-Bug as Poe’s work, the setting of this short story is in Sullivan’s island, South Carolina, the main character is William Legrand a man who claims to be bitten by a gold- colored bug, Legrand’s servant fears that he might have been going insane and goes further to inform his friends who agrees to pay visit to Legrand. Legrand drags the two into epics after deciphering to them a secret message that leads to a buried treasure. The narrator is not certain that what Legrand says is true because the guy has lost his treasure and might be going insane. After confusion Legrand confusing the narrator about his own drawing, the narrator returns home only when a month later Jupiter comes back to ask the narrator if they can go back to his master. They go on expedition along with the gold-bug. In the wilderness of Sullivan’s island they come across a tree that Legrand climbs with him towing the gold-bug. On the tree he finds a skull which he drops to Legrand through one of the eye socket. He acknowledges the spot to dig. There they find the treasure buried by Captain Kidd. The treasure is worth a million and half dollars. Legrand then elaborates how he knew the treasure’s location based on the simple substitution cipher using numerical frequencies. The gold-bug is a cipher that uses substitution methods

The impressive bit of this work was brought out in the aspect that there should be a devised method of secret writing that can only be understood by the few. This helps in storing safely of the secret information about a phenomenon with high value. It also entails holding a secret until a solution is given to know how many are patient enough and are willing to work towards a getting that solution.

In Another Work, The black cat (1843), Edgar still goes on to use the first person narrative and there is no clear definition of the narrator. The narrator elaborates that he and his wife loved animals and had many pets. One of the pets was one black cat called Pluto which the narrator is fond of and likewise happens to the cat. The mutual relationship lasted for several years till the narrator became alcoholic. The height of the story come in when the narrator comes home drunk and believes that the cat is avoiding him, when he tries to take a grasp suddenly of the cat, the animal bites him in the rage of fear, and the narrator goes on to seize it and gouges its eyes out by using the pen knife from his pocket. After the incident the cat flees on seeing his master making the narrator to start regretting about his cruelty, the trend continue for a long period of time until the narrator became irritated due to the spirit of perverseness. He goes out to the garden and hangs the cut from a tree where the cat meets its death, the very night the narrator’s house catches fire forcing them to flee only to come back the following morning to find imprint on the remaining wall the figure of a gigantic cat hanging from a rope. The narrator becomes terrified but comes to understand the reasons as to why the image was there. He begins to miss Pluto, the coincidental part of the story is that the narrator find a similar cat to Pluto without one eye, he takes it home but after a short while begins to hate it. One day the narrator and the wife decided to visit a cellar, the new cat got under his master’s feet nearly challenging him down the stairs. Fury ran over the narrator as he grabbed an axe throwing it at the cat with the intention to kill it, accidentally the axe stopped at his wife and  killed her, he goes on to conceal her body with bricks. The police came for investigation and were blinded by the brick wall thus making the narrator to go free, the cat also went missing. When the police came again for further investigations, the narrator was completely confident that they were going to find nothing only for the alarmed police to find the wife’s corpse. The black cat became the horror of the narrator.

I was impressed by the fact that all that goes around will come back especially the evil one will always come back sooner and in a bad way, I also get impressed by the Edgar through the inspiration he brings out about anger. Anger at all the time should be control to avoid detrimental actions and some things that make us regret.

At the end, I thought of selecting one of the Poe’s poems to see what could be impressive in them and I picked on The Raven (1845). This is a poem that talks about Raven’s unexplainable visit to an upset lover, who is slowly becoming mad. The lover who is a student is complaining for the loss of his love Lenore. The narrator sits reading a book”forgotten lore” as a way of relieving him from the pain of lost love. he gets amused by raven’s disposition, he ask the bird its name and the raven a responds ‘nevermore’ the narrator then gets shocked that the bird can talk though only the same word. He calls the bird a friend and then soon recalls that the bird will just fly out like the other friends have done before. The bird responds again, never more a word from the bird’s unhappy master. Though he tries to not to talk with the bird, the only thing that comes into the narrator’s mind is the lost love and he asks the bird if at all they will re-unit with Lenore in heaven.

Most of the impressions that I found in this work unraveled when Poe tries to explain to us that in the times of sorrow, our soul is trapped perverse conflict, between to remember or to forget. Losing our love is a remorseful and a never ending remembrance.


Edgar Poe uses first person narrative in his work of writing so as to keep the reader in suspense to see if he will undisclose the narrator. The act of symbolism is also used in most of his stories as he tries to elaborate the relevancy of his story to the real life situations. Therefore, I find a lot of things to admire in Allan Poe’s works. A lot of impressive things are very evident in most of his works, hence the reason I am amazed by his works as a writer.


Asselineau, R. (2009). Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Minnesota Press.

Quinn, H. (1998). Edgar Allan Poe Critical Biography. New York: JHU Press.

Sova, D. (2007). Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Infobase.