“The House of Usher”
A narrator arrives at the House of
Usher, a very creepy mansion owned by his old friend Roderick Usher.
Roderick is ill, sick in the mind and
has not left the mansions for years
He writes to the narrator, asking for
The narrator is told by Roderick about
his sickness, the bloodline and the family
Roderick says that his sister,
Madeline, is also seriously ill and will soon die
The narrator attempts to calm Roderick
down, he can only think about the death
Soon, Madeline dies and the two characters
entomb the body under the mansion
The narrator discovers that Roderick
and Madeline were twins and shared a supernatural, telepathic, bond.
Few days later, Roderick and the
narrator read a book out loud
As he progresses to read, an echo-like
noise from under the mansion
Both characters immediately become
anxious- Roderick believes that Madeline was buried alive and is returning to
She returns, jumping at Usher, and eventually,
both falling and dying
The narrator runs away and watches the
House of Usher collapse into a lake
Life of narrator, his cousin and aunt
in a paradise-like “The Valley of the Many-Colored Grass” with fragrant
flowers, trees, and a “River of Silence”
They lived isolated, but still happy
After 15 years, narrator and his
cousin Eleonora fall in love
Eleonora is very sick and fears when
she dies, narrator’s love will search beyond the valley
Under the “might Ruler of the
Universe”, narrator promises to never love anyone else
The death causes the valley to become
cold and desolate, narrator leaves and ventures onwards.
Meets a woman called Ermengarde,
Eleonora’s ‘ghost’ visits the new
couple and forgives them for breaking the promise, and says that those “reasons
shall be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora”
Pit and the Pendulum”
The narrator relates how he was
tortured and put into prison.
He was first placed in a cell which
has a pit in the centre.
He was then strapped to a table as a
pendulum swung back and forth above him, as if it would slice him in half
He barely made it out of there alive
The Spanish Inquisition sentenced the
narrator to death.
He was put into a dark, gloomy cell,
where he nearly fell into the pit – certain death
He was then strapped to a table, over
which a blade swung like a pendulum. He watched as the pendulum swung lower and
lower towards him.
He managed to escape by covering the
ropes in meat, attracting rats to chew through them
His captors attempt to force him into
the pit by closing the walls that surround him.
He’s saved at the last minute by the brigade
of the French Army
“The Black Cat”
The narrator and his wife love animals
They have pets, from which Pluto the cat is the favourite
However, the narrator becomes an alcoholic, and his life turns
The narrator becomes very abusive to his pets and wife
The narrator becomes
abusive towards his wife and towards their animals, sparing only Pluto.
One night, very drunk, the narrator ends up torturing Pluto
The next day, remorse fills the narrator’s life
But his soul is dark, and he kills his cat by hanging it
The narrator’s house burns down the same night – he, and his wife
He is haunted by the death of his favourite pet, and regrets the
killing very much
Some months later, back in deep drinking, the narrator sees a
black cat, like Pluto
He starts to like it, and brings it home – wife is pleased, but
the cat only irritates the narrator
Narrator enraged by cat, attempts to kill his pet
The wife defends the pet, and the narrator kills her instead
He puts the body behind a wall, and peacefully carries on with
Soon, police are aware of the wife being missing.
He pleads innocence, and discusses on how his house is strongly built
He ‘teases’ the spot of his wife’s body, to which there is a wailing
The bricks of the wall are removed and the cat, sitting on the
body is making the wailing sound, as the narrator hid the cat as well.
Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories are filled with excitement,
horror, anxiety and death. They do all share these traits, but the stories
themselves are complete polar opposites.
Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories
all have a unique and dark
sense. The mysterious, gothic writing style easily sparks drama and emotion into the reader. The majority of his stories tend to
have an overarching theme of death, fear and loss.
His style of writing is easily observed through
his language, tone, sentence structure and articulation. He commonly uses
dashes, exclamation marks, semicolons, and commas, as he believed this would
add suspense and build on the theme of gothic writing. His sentence structure
fluctuated largely. He used very small and distinct sentences, as seen in ‘The
Tell Tale Heart”. However, some of his sentences were long, but still were as gripping
and interesting as the short phrases.
Edgar Allen Poe used punctuation in its
ability to make a specific point clear. By doing this, the reader was fully
indulged in his writing. His use of double dashes was a key factor in the
addition of suspense in his writing. It acted like a pause, a moment for the
reader to wonder on what will follow. This is seen in the beginning of “The
Tell-Tale Heart”, “True!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and
am; but why will you say that I am mad?” The tension of the story can easily be
felt. reader in, so that the reader has to determine whether or not the
narrator is sane.
Also, he uses semicolons to lengthen and
support a sentence, usually by joining multiple phrases together. A semicolon
stresses the narrator’s insistence in his sanity. Last of all, his use of exclamation
marks shows the narrator’s state of mind, thoughts, and emotions. Without the
exclamation mark, the impact of the text would not be as strong.