Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Edgar Allan Poe Essay

The diction of Edgar Allan Poe’s works have surely enhanced their literary value . Firstly, Poe was a believer in the law of liberty of diction, in the aesthetic tradition in art, in storytelling. Hence, the diction in almost all his literary works, be they poems, short stories or whatever carry a smell of freshness, of originality, of innate beauty. Again, as he was an iconoclast he could free the diction of the â€Å"short stories† from the heresy of the didactic. He keeps an eye on details and hence a flexibility of diction was the need of the hour which he mastered. He has dovetailed poetry in prose as and when required in order to enhance the readability and appeal of the prose, in particular. For example, â€Å"Conqueror Worm†, as an individual poem has immense appeal as it can create a typical supernatural ambience. The lines have a dramatic ring, the diction is effective in weaving a credible picture of life, though, an angel comes and sits amidst the audience ‘to see/A play of hopes and fears’ where he found ‘much of Madness and more of sin/And Horror the soul of the plot! ’ But, in the middle of the poem, the tone alters and the brilliant effect is brought forth through befitting diction. ‘But see, amid the mimic rout/A crawling shape intrude! /A blood-red thing that writhes from out/The scenic solitude! /It writhes ! -it writhes! -with mortal pangs/The mimes become its food,/And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs/In human gore imbued. † The very lines from this poem, when incorporated into the famous short story â€Å"Ligeia†, it enhances the appeal of the latter. This story is primarily based on the theory of metempsychosis [transmigration of souls], as Ligeia makes a return to her husband through the takeover of the corpse of the second wife of her husband. Poe gets torn between the two disintegrated parts of the story—one, the life and death of Ligeia and the other, the return of heroine Ligeia ,years after, to life. It was not a cakewalk to harness the two threads to give rise to a unity of narrative. For this end in view, Poe has made use of a succession of highly suggestive images and words that mentally prepares the readers for the heroine’s strange return to life from the land of the dead. Weaving of the weird atmosphere adroitly with chosen, appropriate, vibrant diction reminds us of the romantic poet, S. T. Coleridge ,who with similar adept and facile pen used to make us ‘willingly suspend our disbelief’. For example, in the story ‘Ligeia’, the way in which the revelation occurs to Ligeia’s husband is really remarkable, â€Å"The greater part of the fearful night had worn away ,and she who had been dead once again stirred and now more vigorously than hitherto, although arousing from a dissolution more appalling in its utter hopelessness than any†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦.. The corpse, I repeat, stirred, and now more vigorously than before. The hues of life flushed up with unwonted energy into the countenance—the limbs relaxed—and, save that the eyelids were yet pressed heavily together, and that the bandages and draperies of the grave still imparted their charnel character to the figure, I might have dreamed that Rowena had indeed shaken off, utterly, the fetters of Death. † Through the turns of phrases, suggestive images, gothic expressions, meaningful caesura, hair-raising descriptions the writer dawns the ghastly truth upon Ligeia’s husband , at long last, â€Å" ‘Here then, at least, I shrieked aloud, ‘can I never be mistaken—these are the full, and the black ,and the wild eyes—of my lost love—of the lady—of the Lady Ligeia. † â€Å"The Tell-Tale Heart† is a significant story certifying Poe’s oeuvre. Use of maximum expletives is a characteristic feature of diction here. The very opening is striking from the point of diction, â€Å"True! -nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed—not dulled them. †¦. How then am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story. † The colloquial intimacy of the narrative, the protagonist’s fear of the old man’s ‘vulture-like, pale blue eye’, the Evil Eye , as he names it. After continuously assiduous attempts, he succeeds in killing the old man with the Evil Eye. But, he becomes victim of divine retribution and the ticking of the old man’s heart begins to throb in himself, abruptly, rather mysteriously and he admits the heinous deed. Poe’s diction is really apt in bringing forth the heart-rending finale of the story, â€Å" ‘Villains! ’I shrieked, ‘dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -tear up the planks! -here, here! -it is the beating of his hideous heart! † It has already been said that ,Poe believed that the tale should have unity of effect and that everything must be subservient to this unity. The Fall of the House of Usher is a brilliant example of Poe’s craftsmanship as it is tightly structured, concentrated and possessing unity of effect, diction, design and atmosphere. At the very outset, an atmosphere of desolation and disintegration is woven deliberately by Poe . The use of his another poetical piece The Haunted Palace is also timely and appropriate and in unison with the demand of the narration. Especially, in the concluding stanza of the poem ,we find the real appeal of the story packed meticulously, â€Å"And travelers now within that valley,/Through the red-litten windows see/Vast forms that move fantastically/To a discordant melody;/While, like a rapid ghastly river,/Through the pale door,/A hideous throng rush out forever,/And laugh—but smile no more. † In the following lines, Poe is keen on justifying the germaneness of the poetical lines, as included. The tempestuous elements of nature ,the solemn movement of the prose, rising to a crescendo at the end and all the strands of the story converging to the ‘single effect’ produce the grim phantasm, fear, which dominates the story. The strange appearance of the house, the weird actions of the mad inhabitant of the house, Usher, the strange burial and return to life of Madeline ,the death of Usher and the destruction of the house are incidents that contribute to the effect of horror. But there are other subtle factors too. One such factor is a series of ‘weird identifications’, for example, identification between the house and its inmates, between Usher and his sister and finally between the madness of Usher and the momentary madness of the narrator. Even, in the poems too Poe is at his innovative best ,so far as the use of diction is concerned. In the most popular poem,â€Å"The Raven†, the poet with his capturing diction runs to relate to the readers the grief of a bereaved lover for his lost love. The refrain ‘nevermore’ expresses the intensity of sorrow of the lover for his never-to-return beloved! In another poem â€Å"To Helen†, Poe mingles theme and form adeptly. Poe’s complete mastery over the diction is seen in the poem The Bells, where the four different stanzas recapture with striking effect the sound of four different bells—silver bells,golden bells, brass bells and iron bells. It has been rightly praised as one of the finest examples of onomatopoeia. In conclusion, it can , of course, be said in the words of Kirszner and Mandell , â€Å"Using vivid imagery and evocative comparisons, writers of imaginative literature often stretch language to its limits. By relying on the multiple connotations of words and images, a work of imagination †¦encourages readers to see the possibilities of language and to move beyond the factual details of an event. †[p-1] Sources Books: 1. Kirszner, Laurie G. & Mandell, Stephen R. : Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing, Heinle&Heinle,1999. 2. Davidson, Edward H. : Poe—A Critical Study ,Harvard University Press, USA. 3. Krutch, Joseph Wood: Edgar Allan Poe—A Study in Genius, N. Y. Knopf, USA Web Sources 1. www. poestories. com 2. www. poemuseum. org

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