Friday, August 16, 2019

Explore the ways E.A. Poe uses his narrators to create a sense of terror and suspense Essay

Throughout all the stories I have read during the course of studying Edgar Allen Poe, the narrating has been fairly similar and a great sense of tension, fear and believability have been created inn all of them. The stories are all written in the first person, so it is more like a story is being told to you by some one, which makes them all more believable. In ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘The Tell Tale Heart’, it is something that drives the narrator mad that forces him to commit the murders, and in ‘The Premature Burial’ his fear, being buried alive, is driving him mad. In fact he is being driven over the edge of insanity in all the stories we have studied except two – ‘The Fall of the house of Usher’ and ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, both in which he is nearly killed. In all of them we learn a lot about the narrator, for example, in ‘The Premature Burial’, we learn about his background, and a lot about catalepsy and his fear of being buried alive. The narrators are very descriptive of the other characters in the stories and this really adds atmosphere, and makes the reader feel as if they are part of the tale. For example, in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’, Poe describes the old man- â€Å"One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture- a pale blue eye, with a film over it.† He often uses similes and metaphors, which also helps and makes symbols using characters or objects he mentions, for example, in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, he describes the candles on a table, as angels, next to the jury that was about to sentence him to death by torture, as images of the devil. In all of the stories we studied, I can’t remember the narrators describing any of the other characters as ‘good’; they were all evil or bad. I don’t know whether this portrays that Edgar Allen Poe stereotyped people as bad or evil, but all of the narrators he wrote about did. The emotions that were felt by the narrators were very varied, at times they were scared, at other times, they were afraid, but whatever emotions they were feeling, they were very well portrayed and very detailed vocabulary was used. For example- ‘I was sick- sick unto death with that long agony; and when that at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me’. The emotions that the narrators felt affected the stories and the more descriptive they were, the more you could picture them and the more the story came to life in your imagination. This could be why Poe was such a successful writer. The narrators always describe their surroundings and the position they are in very well and this also makes it a lot easier to picture the story in your head. For example, in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ the opening page is only the narrator describing, in detail, the house and it’s surroundings: – â€Å"During the whole of a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens.† This amount of description continues for over a page and sets the scene very effectively. You feel like you are there, almost as if you are telling the story from personal experience. All of the stories we have studied have had very good description in them and all scenes were set very believably. For another example, in ‘The Pit and The Pendulum’, the introduction is in Latin, which gives you the impression that the story was set or written a long time ago. After that, there is a long, descriptive page, setting the scene of the story- â€Å"It conveyed to my soul the idea of revolution – perhaps from its association in fancy with the burr of a mill-wheel† The narrators’ reactions to either the murders they had committed or events that were about to happen to them were different every time, unlike the narrator’s feelings about other characters, which were often similar. In ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ the narrator did not seem particularly concerned when he saw the sight of his own certain death swinging above him – â€Å"While I gazed upwards at it (for it as position was directly above my own) I fancied that I saw it in motion†. But as the pendulum dropped, his language became much more descriptive and intense – â€Å"Down – still unceasingly – still inevitably down!† It gripped you more and makes you want to read on. Maybe this is why he had so many occasions in his stories when he was irate or mad, so the reader became gripped and more interested. The endings of Poe’s stories are often the most memorable part as it is often in the last part of the story where the main murder or event occurs. For example, in ‘The Black Cat’, ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ and ‘The House of Usher’, the main event/murder is at the end of the story, with little said after it. In ‘The Black Cat’ for example, after the murdered cats and wife are found, there are only about twenty lines left of the story, which is not much, considering the huge amount of description Poe uses- † I walled up the monster within the tomb† In a sense it is really only the narrators in his stories that create all the tension, terror and suspense. If it was written in anything other than first person, the same effect would not be given and I don’t think his stories would be as good, or as effective.

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