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Edgar Allan Poe

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on 13 May 2015

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Transcript of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher
"He was enchained by certain
superstitious impressions
in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted, and from which he had never ventured forth...an influence which some peculiarities in the mere form and
substance of his family mansion
, had, by dint of long sufferance, he said,
obtained over his spirit
" (657).
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
First published in 1841 in Graham's Magazine
Introduction of detective genre

“Each [of Poe’s detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed,” Doyle once said. “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?”

"What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture
" - Sir Thomas Browne

Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin:
Prefect of the Police:

Deduction v. Induction
Poe's term ratiocination:
logical reasoning
The process of inferring a general law or principle from the observation of particular instances
Inference by reasoning from generals to particulars

"To have a retentive memory, and to proceed by 'the book,' are points commonly regarded as the sum total of good playing" (11).
Requires inductive and deductive skills in addition to those of chess such as reading other players faces.

The analytical power should not be confounded with simple ingenuity; for while the analyst is necessarily ingenious, the ingenious man is often remarkably incapable of analysis" (11-12).

"It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than profoundly analytic" (12).

The Fall of the House of Usher
First published in 1839 in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine.
Who is Edgar Allan Poe?
Born in Boston, MA
January 19, 1809 - October 07, 1849
Died in Baltimore, MD
Second of three children
Biological parents died within three years
Adopted by wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan & Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, VA
Exact cause of death unknown
A Tell-Tale Heart
The Ending
Let's Take A Closer Look
"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.
I think it was his eye! yes, it was this!
He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever" (691).
"Oh God! what could I do?
I foamed --I raved --I swore!
I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased.
It grew louder --louder --louder!
And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! --no, no! They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now --again! --hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!"

" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his
hideous heart!"
Critical Questions

"The disease had sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them."

What disease does the narrator think he has?

"I think it was his eye! yes, it was this!"

Did the narrator have an actual reason for killing the old man or did he just make one up?

"I foamed--I raved--I swore!"

The dashes in the line shows incoherent thinking. The repetition of words and exclamations show a collapse of mental stability.

"It grew louder--louder--

Did the narrator really hear the heart beat grow louder or was it all in his head?

"Villains" &
"Hideous Heart"

Perverse sense of who the villain is.
First published in January 1843 in the inaugural issue of The Pioneer

The old man:

What is their relationship?
"I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire" (691).
Servant - Master
Child - Parental figure
Friend - Friend
Intimate relationship
"And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door" (692).
"And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night" (692).
"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."

1. Revealing, indicating, or betraying something
2. A device or object that automatically gives a visual indication of the state or presence of something.
"Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A
minute hand moves more quickly than did mine" (692).
"He was still sitting up in the bed listening; --just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death
in the wall" (692).
"And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? --now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a
makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too.
It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury,

as the beating of a drum
stimulates the soldier into courage" (693).
"No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased --and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a
makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly --more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased" (694).
Definition of Tell-Tale
Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life"
"Art is long and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums,
are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
"True! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been, and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
The disease
had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them.
Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell.
How, then, am I mad? Harken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story" (691).
-- boyhood friend of Roderick
Roderick Usher
-- The narrator's ill friend and also master of the House of Usher; suffers from acuteness of the senses.
-- Roderick's sister; suffers from catalepsy
What is the relationship between Roderick and Madeline?
"I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain" (655).
Critical Questions
"Her figure, her air, her features--all, in their very minutest development were those--were identically (I can use no other sufficient term) were identically those of the Roderick Usher who sat beside me" (658).
"I looked upon the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls--upon the
vacant eye-like windows
--upon a few sedges...with an utter depression of
which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-drea, of the reveller upon opium" (654).
Critical Questions
Does the house have supernatural powers or is Roderick a hypochondriac?
"The result was discoverable, he added, in that silent, yet importunate and
terrible influence which for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family
, and which made him what I now saw him--what he was" (661).
"Vacant eye-like windows"
The house has been personified.
Is the family line cursed?
"He entered, at some length, into what he conceived to be the nature of his malady. It was, he said, a constitutional and a
family evil
, and one for which he despaired to find a remedy--a mere nervous affection" (657).
"And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable change came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend. His ordinary manner had vanished...There were times, indeed, when I thought his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with an oppressive secret...I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound. It was no wonder that his condition terrified--that it infected me" (631).
Is it fear/madness that eventually kills Roderick?
What is Gothic Fiction
"The hellish tattoo of the heart increased...The old man's terror must have been extreme!...The beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst! And now a new anxiety seized me--the sound would be heard by a neighbor!
The old man's hour had come!
" (693)--The heart acts as an indicator that death is present.
Obsession with Time- Countdown to Death
Literary Gothic Terms
Ancestral Curse
Body-Snatching (grave-robbing)
Entrapment & Imprisonment
Explained Supernatural-
Is the phenomena happening in a setting within the laws of nature
in a setting where supernatural intervention is taking place
The Haunted Castle or House
And the list goes on and on....
Do you agree that there is a difference between ingenuity and analysis?

Narrator points out the importance of imagination and making jumps.
Full transcript