Madness of Poe : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I know this is short notice, but I am trying to show a comparison between the mindset of Poe to two stories of his. The stories are The Tale Tell Heart and The Pit and the pendulum. The thesis i'm doing deals with what cause these two men to go over or not. Since tth, the man lost it and killed the old guy and in p and p the man despite all that happened kept his cool. I wanted some help on drawing lines from those incidents of percieved insanity to Poe's personal insanity or perception there of. Any, and I do mean any help will really be appreciated.

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2002


You might say the Romantic movement moving in odd lockstep with the increasingly inhibited respectable society(creating order to manage the chaos of industrial progress) produced Freud and Jung. Poe personally was deeply affected by his high personal sensitivity and his lack of a stable family life in his formative years. BUT, that he found echoes of his heart in the British Romantics and other Eurpoean poets is as profound as how young people relate to rock music. More than that, being a great talent in poetry himself, he embraced some of their artistry and themes. It is impossible to separate things like his allergy to alcohol from his writing career I suppose but people never understand the whole man.

When inebriated or enthralled by extreme experimentations in mental sentiment(British poets tried desperately to maintain their creative high and no one calls Shelley or Byron mad) Poe felt things he did not want to exhiibit. His friends barely saw any of these influences in Poe's actual behavior. Like Stephen King perhaps, Poe let it out refelctively in artworks, to capture a heightened mood, a revelation of character and reality that normal thinking cannot grasp. Poe was also dealing with an unfriendly or at least unrewarding and unappreciative world in a sort of two way alienation and revolt. That too is common. Poe's exploits are neither very scandalous or abnormal compared to people under much less stress and with less interest in exploring the deeper psyche. No affairs, no drugs(maybe once or twice), habits of alcoholism(one drink and he was there) but few periods of binging, little violence or rudeness(one fist fight over a rigged contest), no necrophilia, no weird sex(if any). He appears like a prudish, genteel and affable intellectual compared to the wild and controversial Byron, even the idealistic Shelley.

Keeping his cool. This shows you are close to grasping what the typical reader misses in these sensationalist tales. The "great" integrating mind seeks order no matter how extreme the state of mind and unfriendly situation. It is the victory of reason combined with the two-edged gift of hyper perception and emotion that creates art for Poe. The madman is undone from the oputset because his mind contains the seeds of his own defeat and self-destruction. Trying to externalize this in a fairly neutral world, he becomes his own Pit and Pendulum and accuser. In the second story the normal man succumbs to the emotional effects of tirture, but his mind survives and triumphs. In the Black Cat the drinking does in the man but as you can see on a second reading, his mind is so captivated by the wild delusions and experiences of drink that he has little remorse or conversion back to mormalcy other than a recognition(not in the Tell Tale madman)that most people would not understand his fixation the power of the events.

Poe felt things he knew separated him from "normal" less perceptive and talented minds. He acted on them less than any other Romantic and was perhaps the most dedicated to sublimating his Muse to his career. That he did not have the money to throw around and travel like his contemporary counterparts may have helped keep him that way. That Poe's "heros" have obvious flaws or rational strengths that never allow the victory of insane perception over reality. But he loves the exploration of imagination and the power of bringing the effects into artistic existence. Often you can tell he has a lot of fun in getting to the reader this way. When you read enough of Poe go to a very late and bitter tale "Hop Frog" and see how he reflects on his past career and his reception. In many symbolic references he goes back to many of his previous stories in a kind of mocking reverse.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2002

HA hahahahaa

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2003

Moderation questions? read the FAQ