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Fascination With Fear

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by

Tesa Jones

on 18 February 2015

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Transcript of Fascination With Fear

Fascination With Fear
Part A
Edgar Allen Poe's short story The Premature Burial explores the narrator's fear of being buried alive. The theme is that you can overcome your fears as long as you don't focus on the dark and dreary things in life. Throughout the whole story, the narrator is consumed by his fears. He has catalepsy, which is a physical condition in which the person cannot move or speak. This condition can last from hours to months! The narrator does not want to be alone but he does not want to be around people because he is afraid that they will think that he is dead. "No event is so terribly well adapted to inspire the supremeness of bodily and mental distress,as is burial before death." The narrator goes through other incidents of people being buried alive where some don't make it back out. Back then, being buried alive happened a lot, so it was a rational fear. Towards the end of the story, after he awakes from his dream, he becomes a new man. This new man learns to conquer his fears and eventually loses his catalepsy.
Part B
The theme in "The Premature Burial" is that you can overcome your fears as long as you don't focus on the dark and dreary things in life. As a gymnast, fear happens to be a daily occurrence. I have avoided, gone around, and just plain ignored my fear. Something that gymnastics has taught me is in order to escape fear, you have to go through it, not around. You have to decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. I think the narrator realized in the end that the monsters we are all scared of are actually inside of us.
Here, Poe describes the sensations of being buried alive. What imagery does Poe use to help you hear, see, smell, and feel? He uses descriptive sentences to help describe what's going on. (Ex. "the suffocating fumes from the damp earth)

The narrator suffers from catalepsy, a physical condition in which the individual cannot move or speak for hours or, in extreme cases, for months. According to the narrator’s explanation, what are some of the ways that one can tell a cataleptic is still living? You can still feel the heart beat and an unequal irregularaction of the lungs of one who has catalepsy. Small amounts of warmth and a slight color remain on the skin.

What simile does the narrator use describing his return to consciousness? What does the narrator suggest by using this simile and subsequent description? The narrator describes two forms his attack takes and two different ways he wakes up. 1. "I remained, until the crisis of the disease restored me, suddenly, to perfect sensation." 2. ".. I awoke slowly. Just as the day dawns to the friendless and houseless beggar who roams the streets throughout the long desolate winter night - just so tardily - just so wearily - just so cheerily came back the light of the soul to me."

As the narrator experiences fear, what techniques does Poe use to create suspense for the reader? He wrote long sentences with a lot of punctuation marks.

What is happening to the narrator here? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. The narrator is being awaken by a mysterious person. "Suddenly there came an icy hand upon my forehead, and an impatient, gibbering voice whispered the word "Arise!" within my ear."

How would you describe the narrator's mental state? Are his actions rational? I would describe the narrator's mental state as frantic and scared. I believe his actions are rational because his fears are rational. His fear of being buried alive could very well happen and be the death of him.

What technique does Poe use in the second paragraph to build suspense? What is the effect on you, the reader? he uses short sentences and a lot of punctuation. This makes me read it faster which creates more suspense.

Based on the descriptions here, what has happened to the narrator? He is trying to scream out but he cannot talk. He believes he is buried.

How does changing sentence structure from long to short and choppy help build suspense? What emotions do you feel as you read? It makes the reader read faster.

What has happened? If you were the narrator, what would you feel hearing these voices? I would be freaked out and confused.

The narrator undergoes a major change. What did the narrator do in light of his experience on the sailboat? Do you think his reaction is a typical one of someone facing their fears?He turns into a new man. Not everyone has the same reaction when facing their fears. In the end, his fear was gone.

Think about the meaning of the last sentence. What is Poe saying in these final lines of his story? Poe is saying that fears must be overcome or they will destroy us.
The theme of "The Premature Burial" is that you can overcome your fears as long as you don't focus on the dark and dreary things in life. Being a gymnast, fear is an everyday occurrence. I have avoided and ignored fear. In the end you realize to escape fear, you have to go through it, not around. Usually when I am afraid to do a skill nobody will know. My friends always say they wish they weren't afraid of things like me but I have gone through so many fears. I try not to acknowledge my fear so I can just push through it. I think in the end of "The Premature Burial" he realizes that you cannot let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen and that the real monsters are inside of us. That is something I can relate to very much.
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