Choose two stories that explore burials, buried alive, burial for group and write essay that examines what the plot and characters and themes in common HELP HELP : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread


-- Anonymous, September 22, 2002


"Premature Burial" is a more tongue in cheek examination of the phenomenon and its horrors for the one buried alive, ending with the narrator's own mistaken experience in frightening himself.

But the actual tales convey this and much more in that it is the point of view of the observer that is totally and more clearly the focus. "The Fall of the House of Usher" is all about approaching where Madeleine Usher precedes her brother and then returns after being buried alive to shock him into his own death and the collapse of the "house"- burying all. For this is a common Poe theme in general- not catalepsy, but the return of the dead to overcast(The Raven) the survivor. "Berenice" combines catalepsy with an obsession death does also not end. In a trance the smile haunted bereaved removes all her teeth. Berenice, upon awakening... Well Poe was criticized for grotesquerie here and ultimately became defensive here as well, claiming it as a satire and complaining how other writers were much worse.

"The Pit and the Pendulum" is one man struggling in the deadly claustrophobic death chambers of the Inquisition until rescuers break him out. Hopelessness and horrors betyond death are experienced first. Claustrophob tomb like setting also shadow other stories like the enclosed castle of "The Masque of the Red Death" when the plague enters. "The Oblong Box" is one man bringing his dead wife and following the box into the sea during an accident, while the passengers get the mistaken impression the wife(a companion) was alive. "The Tell-Tale Heart", of course, has the victim buried beneath the floor uncovered by the madman who thinks he hears the beating of the heart. "The Black Cat", ditto. Escaping death, the dead not quite dead, the quiescent life in stasis in the tomb(The Sleeper, Ulalume poems etc. etc) show many variations on the theme,premature burialonly being the most macabre manifestation in that the reality breeds the full horror even in mistaken perceptions. In "Ligeia" the return is no mistake but still a horrific aberration born of pure obsession. The shrouded second wife is subsumed by the dead first wife by sheer force of will. The experience of the narrator in all of these is central, usually grounded in science bordering on the persistence of haunting and revulsion. The one trying to escape the fate of himself or the other has not the power, and like Hamlet the prospect of not really dying and the darkness beyond is worse than death itself.

Consolations? "The Raven" attempted desperately, affirmed, but in practice they don't work for the living though the bereaved is dragged under the spell. Jokes, rationalizations, revolt, betrayal, he tries them all to no avail.

Obviously a lot more here.

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2002

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