Reason for Prematurial Burial in stories?greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread
I am writing a paper on poes works and how a reoccuring theme is present in his stories, it has to be an argumentative essay so i need to know his main reason for including being buried alive in his stories something not obvious... I was thinking maybe this was his way of keeping all his dead loved ones alive in his mind/??? Please Help?? or maybe another reoccuring them someone knows about ??
-- Anonymous, October 26, 2000
Of course one cannot speak of Poe's motives with first hand knowledge and his use of this theme (premature burial) differs somewhat from story to story. In the tale "The Premature Burial", Poe begins by reciting several actual accounts that had been noted in local newspapers of the time. This is consistent with his technique of using a general truth or facts, however incidental, to support or enhance the fictional elements in the story. This is a very effective technique and is used even today, especially in mystery and science- fiction stories. How many times have we heard the line, "Stranger than fiction" while watching advertisements for some up-coming mystery show on television.
Add to this the fact that a general fear of "accidental burial" did exist in the early 19th century and your readership is all but assured. Medicine was advancing but slowly, epidemics were frequent by today's standards and autopsies were rare if required at all. According to Kenneth Silverman in his book, "Edgar Allan Poe - Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance", he mentions two works dealing with this fear during the period. One was, "On the Signs of Death" in 1834 that went through numerous re-printings and discussed how specific afflictions could mimic death. The other was "The Dangers of Premature Burial" in 1816 by Joseph Taylor. This work opened the subject to public discussion and knowledge by the time Poe's story appeared but the subject was poorly understood. This made a good recipe for a horrific tale and there is little doubt Poe recognized this. If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself in a coma or catatonic state, in the public mind, there was no assurance your heart beat or breathing would or could be detected nor your condition recognized as anything other than your, shall we say, "final departure."
I do not mean to say that your interpretation is in error, nor would I attempt to voice an opinion in judgement of the merit of your interpretation of Poe's use of this theme. After some forty years of reading his prose, his poetry, lectures, essays, commentary and even his personal correspondence, I have come to see Poe as little different than his contemporaries with, perhaps, a single variation. That variation would be in the expression of his extraordinary genius.
It is interesting that you are currently attending the University of my choice. I have lived in the same community since 1960 and have grown rather fond of that particular football team and the womenBs basketball team. GO _ _ _ _ _ _ !!
-- Anonymous, October 28, 2000
Poe saw someone being exhumed coz they'd been buried alive at the age of 7. The corpse was pressed against the top of the coffin.
-- Anonymous, February 17, 2002