Themes in Poe's Shrt Stories

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I Poe’s Short Stories Themes: Man's relationship with death The fear of death drives the actions of several of Poe's characters. In particular, the narrator of "The Premature Burial" obsesses about the possibility of premature burial, and his fear makes him so paranoid that when he wakes up in the berth of a ship, he mistakes it for a grave and has a terrifying experience for no real reason. At the same time, Poe describes several characters whose response to their fear of death is to avoid it, although the usual result of their avoidance is increased trauma. Prince Prospero and his courtiers in "The Masque of the Red Death" try to shut themselves away and ignore the slaughter caused by the Red Death, but death pays no attention to their barriers and kills them en masse. Similarly, the attempt by the narrator to arrest M. Ernest Valdemar at the point of death in "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" only causes the consumptive patient to die and have his body gruesomely dissolve into a putrid puddle. However, the main character development of the narrator of "MS. Found in a Bottle" is that he learns to accept his impending death and replace his fear with anticipation. Insanity versus rationality In many of Poe's short stories, such as "The Tell-Tale Heart," the narrators are madmen and murderers who fail to disguise their lack of rationality with a discussion of their thought processes. However, their stories inevitably reveal gaps in their chains of thought that speak to their descent into immorality and selfishness. In many cases, insanity is interlocked with the narrators' emotional egotism; they are incapable of empathizing with others and think only of their own desire to satisfy their honor or their need to end the disruptions to their lives. On the other side of the equation lie Poe's rational characters, who are capable of consciously setting

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