light and darkness in E. A. POe's short stories : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I'm trying to write a long essays on Poe. My purpose is to show how light and darkness are developed in three Poe's short stories: the Sphinx, The Black Cat and The Pit And The Pendulum. Is there someone who can help me how to develop this subject? Thans to those who want to answer.

-- Anonymous, March 05, 2003


The Pit... is probably the best example. The Black Cat, the other idea of walling away, hiding something in the silent dark(Cask Of Amonitillado) is symptom of a main Poe theme. That old memories thoguh they are dead and now abhorrent, never go away. Guilt as some misdeed is as great as guilt over wishing the cherished memory that now oppresses would go away and not cast a shadow on life in the present(The Raven). How the imagination works this out is through misperception and self-betrayal, self-punishment.

In the Pit it is imaged out but the darkness is all an external invasion. It is not memories. The character tells little of his past and his mind. He only reacts to the sheer attack of his jailers to survive, to remain sane, to figure out in the absolute darkness and hopelessness- a way out. The only light he is given at the end is the burning walls of the man-made Hell closing in upon him, a mockery pushing himto the ultimate torment. Even then he will not surrender to the darker fall, the Pit. He will embrace the fire, he does surrender his will and freedom to choose.

Poe's other "heros" however have the darkness within, the madness the overthrowing of one's self is already there("The Imp of the Perverse" is a good intro to "The Black Cat". They cannot escape it and in the vertigo of their terror embrace the power of the experience feeling less about their victims than the intensity of their fall. (Milton's "heroic"Satan at this period had become a Romantic figure, the Byronic hero). "The Sphinx" is less clear an example but you can feel its connection. The hero there, falling prey to his own inner dark excitement misperceives reality, through an optical mystery or trick mistaking a bug for an incredible monster. "Sphinx" of course is a symbol for riddle as well as the monster mispoerception. It takes his clearer headed friend, his "Dupin" detective self to solve it. Again for Poe, one type of hero wins to the light by reason and use of the mind,the art. The other drawn like a moth accomplishes a self burial into the emotional appeal of dark mystery, the darker the better. "The Sphinx" like "The Premature Burial" is Poe poking fun or satirizing himself, recognizing his own double nature.

Really understanding this dominant theme would call for more referneces, the stars and night sky, the heavy use of vague misty scenery, dark rooms and stark contrasts, reduction of light and color. Extreme reduction and contrast polarizes light and dark both symbolically and psychologically in every facet of nearly every tale or poem.

-- Anonymous, March 05, 2003

THE CASK OF AMOTILLADO is good,,, OR poems are ok too. like the RAVEN, and ANNABEL LEE... i wish it helped.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2005

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