Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 1032
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Edgar Poe’s fiction literature may mesmerize or drive readers back but they do not induce boredom or lack of interest. Most of his works revolve around cruelty, terror, death and madness. While they explore the internal world, their main focus is on the worse sides of the society i.e. there is no harmony, peace of mind or joy, instead what the reader finds are various expressions of pathological and abnormal behavior that the society fails to recognize. This essay will give some account of how language and society are illustrated in “The Portable Edgar Allan Poe” by Edgar Poe with special focus on the following stories within this text: The Fall of the House of Usher, William Wilson, A Descent into the Maelstrom, The Tell Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado.

As it has been the custom for most writers to investigate and explore issues that affect the society in which they live in, Edgar is among those who have successful used language to discuss issues that are critical to the society. Edgar uses symbols to tackle the causes and nature of evil in the society as well as the doubling of personalities that make individuals engage in situations they do not intend to. For instance, in the “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Edgar doubles the personalities of the twins Madeline and Roderick as well as their physical relationships. The two have been brought up together and live entirely the same life style (Poe and Kennedy 84).

They both suffer emotional and physical illnesses as a result of the supernatural forces that preoccupy their home. When eventually Madeline dies, buried and later resurrects, Roderick loses his consciousness and becomes more insane thinking that he buried her alive (Poe and Kennedy 87). By making them look more or less alike, the author portrays the fact that at times we are not what we think we are because of the close relationship that exists between our conscious and subconscious minds.

 William Wilson on the other hand explores the double existence of the protagonist which drives him insane as a result. William undergoes a mental self-splitting process that produces the two Williams (Poe and Kennedy 184). Edgar tries to illustrate how the society suffers an altered ego. Most individuals experience an extra part of their mind that haunts them against their wills which is also an eventual inseparability of the mind and body. Thus Edgar illustrates this psychological disorder through the appearance of another being. His concept of the introverted, insensible change ego that is associated with the universal psychosomatic that is not affected by specifics of place and time.  William’s mental splitting is not a result of specific environmental factors since he decisively moves from one environment to another trying to project an inside evil to the world (Poe and Kennedy 227).

Another aspect of the society that the author tries to imply through his extravagant use of language is the division between love and hate. Most individuals think that they love those people close to them but they end up hating them because of one reason or the other. The Tell-Tale Heart is a good example in explaining how ones consciousness contradicts his own deeds. The story explores the mental contradictions that donate the fatal profile (Poe and Kennedy 492). The narrator of the story declares that he is extremely nervous, yet he can not understand why he is thought to be mad. The author explores the narrator’s mystery between hate and love.

The narrator expresses his love for the old man not because of any sight but in a way he gets rid of motives that may encourage such a brutal murder. He strips the story of excess aspect as a way to intensify the killer’s obsession with detailed and unembellished entities: the heartbeat, the old man’s eye, and his own assert to common sense. Thus in trying to separate the old man from the evil eye, he fails to recognize that the man and the eye are inseparable; hence he ends up killing him (Poe and Kennedy 417). Edgar’s sharp language thus contributes to the content of the narrative, and it is this association of form and content that truthfully demonstrate paranoia.

Just like all the above stories, The Cask of Amontillado also gives a picture of what is happening in the society and how individuals relate with their bodies and minds. The story explores secret slay and revenge as a way of avoiding the use of lawful procedures for retribution. The story illustrates a society in which law and order do not exist and members can do what they please regardless of the outcome (Poe and Kennedy 614). The A Descent into the Maelstrom demonstrates how man naturally fears death. The man fears shipwreck even though he displays courage, calm and intelligence when under pressure (Poe and Kennedy 21). He challenges his approaching death and becomes the only survivor owing to his lucid nature and charisma of mind. This does not just happen to the protagonist but to any rational human. The society is by nature afraid of death even though every one is aware that death is compulsory to all.

In almost all of these writings, Edgar has explained that his intension was to create strong arousing responses through the use of language. Edgar writes the stories very cautiously and with intricacy. He uses first person narration so as to bring the reader closer and make him/ her have the same feelings as the narrator. Language; imagery and symbols, is used specifically to bring emphasis, and make the reader have a mental vision of the horrifying nature of the tales.

For instance in the ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ the narrator describes the house as gloomy and as he gets into the house, he finds his friend’s sister sleeping like a corpse (Poe and Kennedy 84). The whole scene becomes terrifying particularly when Madeline comes from the grave with blood striping all over her body. In all stories, language is used to bring the pictures of the atmospheres of the tales.

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