The Expressions Of Death
Different themes are observed to be associated with the work of Edgar Allan Poe,but of the numerous the repeating topic of death is a steady focal point of his writing. With research it has been found that Poe viewed death in the way that humans have two different forms caterpillar and butterfly,that’s how he looks at death,the change of forms. 3 of some of Poe’s most popular Work consist of Ligeia, Tell Story Heart, and The fact in the case of act of M. Valdemar will be utilized to study the topic of death. Which will be separated into murder, disease, and science experiments with Human Preservation. Murder is a typical type of death followed through Poe’s work.
According to “Analysis of Allen Poe’s death theme in his short stories it states “ This concept is related to two identities: perpetrator and victim, and perpetrator, driven by some motives, take away life of victims on purpose”. This appears in the short story the Tell tale heart: “True,nervous,very,very dreadfully nervous I had been and am but why will you say that I am mad?”( Poe -p 1). The storyteller is trying to persuade himself and an audience that he is ordinary and normal, despite the fact that he is an apprehensive and an uneasy individual who then states “How then am I mad?Hearken and observe how healithy How calmly I can tell you the whole story”( Poe -p 2). The narrator is guaranteeing to the reality of him having the ability to tell the story is him being a sane and normal person. However that is the exact opposite that happens due to his sudden in interest in the old man’s “eye”which is describe to be “eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it”(Poe -p 3). This eye leads the narrator to commit an unturnable act. Murder. The narrator claims though he used “caution”, “foresight”, “dissimulation”, he can not be frantic rather he was calculated and sane about the homicide of the old man. Poe uses the repetition of time and the old mans heart in comparison to each other. The reasoning to that is that each heart tells it’s own time, which is definitely passing, every beat of one’s heart conveying one closer to death. Thus proving the fact that usually there’s a perpetrator, the narrator in this case, that’s driven by an unknown instability and madness that’s unclear until later in the story leading to murder.
Disease seems to be another form of death in Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. An example of a disease would be tuberculosis with which many of the characters in Poe’s stories have died by. Many of those characters that seem to have this strange disease are women. That can be connected to the fact that Poe’s mother died from the disease and his beloved wife also died by the hands of the disease. Both women very much dear to his heart. A memorable work of Poe that can relay to that fact is “Ligeia”. Ligeia is to be at first described as “ her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low musical language” (Poe -P 1) She is to have brilliant black eyes, strange but exquisite features like, curly hair and pale skin. However as the story goes on and Ligeia falls ill, her physical appearance starts to deteriorate. In the article Analysis of Allan Poe’s Death Theme in His Short Stories by Lin Xiaobin states “At a later stage, the characteristics of beauty held by women are stripped, and the time beauty dies away is exactly the time death falls”(Xiaobin -P 2. 3). This shows how many of the female characters in Poe’s stories have a physical appearance that changes over time due to a disease.
The use of Science and Human preservation is an expression of death that is used within Poes stories. “The fact in the case of M. Valdemar” is a great example due to him implementing the use of Science and death. The main Character M. Valdemar is going to resort to pseudo-science and experiments to live longer. pseudoscience can range from subliminal advertising,conversion therapy and the one that will be focused on is hypnosis. Hypnosis is the act of when a person is “asleep”but can still respond of things they are told,hear,and even see. It is reported by the “The birth of mesmerism”that “Hypnosis as we know it today had its origins in the unique medical practices of Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician who lived in Vienna, Austria during the mid 18th Century”. He created a fluid called Animal Magnetism,and believed that different people had more or less of this fluid which gave reasoning to him injecting people with the fluid. One doctor documented the use of him using this fluid during the practice of hypnosis “One person became hysterical, then another; one was seized with catalepsy; others with convulsions; some with palpitations of the heart, perspirations, and other bodily disturbances. ” The use of hypnosis that he was doing was to prevent one from being sick however it does the exact opposite which is portrayed in “The fact in the case of M. Valdemar” M. Valdemar is about to die due to the disease tuberculosis because this disease was fatal back in the 1800s.
The patient first goes from “the pulse was imperceptible; the breathing was gentle (scarcely noticeable, unless through the application of a mirror to the lips;) the eyes were closed naturally; and the limbs were as rigid and as cold as marble. Still, the general appearance was certainly not that of death”(Poe -p 9). He stays in this of state for months and on until with the request of M. Valdemar they take him out of his mesmerised state and he ends up “from the lips of the sufferer, his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk — crumbled — absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putridity. ”This shows how the method of Hypnosis using mesmerisation can not cure disease and that it had and its negative effects. Pseudoscience is what Poe used in his work and it leads to tragic ending.
Main Characters of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories had strong thinking based on death hence why the story takes a turn for the worst all the time. Death wasn’t used all the time by Poe for terror but also beauty thus him being able to be very descriptive of death and the different ways his characters end up succumbing to it. Poe ends up using different forms of death that include but not limited to Murder,Disease,and Experimental Science in his work to portray the fact.
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