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Essay example - Literature before civil war
Pages 5 (1255 words)
In this short span of 40 years he was renowned for his skills as a poet and for developing the potential power of the short story. He is remarked to have invented both the detective story and science fiction tales (Frank 1)…
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“The life and career of Edgar Allan Poe can be a hall-of-mirrors like experience. There are many Poes” (Frank 1). Attempting to compare and contrast his works is no less of an experience. This is true of his short stories “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Although they share certain elements, they both remain unique examples unto themselves.
“The Masque of the Red Death” is set in the midst of a horrific plague that has decimated the population of Prince Prospero’s land. Instead of aiding the victims dying outside, he decides to throw an extravagant masked gala for him and his wealthy, noble friends. They lock themselves inside and block out the horror outside and revel in decadence and frivolous disregard. Prospero believes in his actions that this will keep him safe. When Death makes himself known, Prospero is offended at the affront. The Prince and all of his guests died that night (Poe 319-323). This story reminds us brilliantly of the certainty of death and the futility of attempting to escape it. In this Poe fulfilled his traditional writing style of being both “…direct and straightforward” ("The Pit and the Pendulum"). “The Pit and the Pendulum” is the story of a man known only as the Prisoner, trapped, drugged, and bound to a table as the blade of the pendulum swings closer and closer. Even when he frees himself from the table, the walls are heated and close in around him. Then, just in time, he is rescued (Poe).
Given these brief summaries, one might conclude that these stories have very little in common. One blatantly cautions that you cannot cheat death; in the other the Prisoner escapes what appears to be inevitable death, which is quite uncommon of Poe works (" The Pit and the Pendulum"). One takes place at a lavish party, the other in a dark dungeon. One involves the presence of ...
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