• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Role of Confession in Poe's Poetry.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Role of Confession in Poe's Poetry In his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition," Edgar Allan Poe writes that in an ideal poem, "two things are invariably required first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness some under-current, however indefinite, of meaning." While he claims to use this statement to justify the "suggestiveness" of the final two stanzas of "The Raven," he points at a more universal under-current that lies behind several of his poems, particularly those about deceased women. In poems such as "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven," the speaker covertly confesses to murdering the women about whom they are written. The complexity of these poems lies in the nature of the speaker, who wishes to make his guilt public, yet at the same time enjoys keeping it hidden. The principle of a covert confession serves as Poe's poetic inspiration, drawing a connection between confession and creation. Since the death of beautiful women is such a common theme in Poe's poems, it obviously an inspiring topic. More important than the deaths themselves, however, is the manner in which they are narrated. Poe's speakers tell stories about dead women that hint that they are responsible for killing them. One of the best examples is "Annabel Lee," in which Poe frames the speaker's underlying confession primarily through the use of meter. ...read more.

Middle

Poe's narrators enjoy a kind of covert confessing because it is a kind of self-torment.The concept of self-torment, particularly through the act of confession, is closely tied to the idea of narcissism. The very act of tormenting oneself shows at once a degree of self-obsession. By definition, to confess is to disclose information that has previously been kept only in one's own head. Logically, then, a poem that is characterized by a speaker's confession is a poem that is about himself. The relationship of self-torture and narcissism is well-defined in "The Tell-Tale Heart," in which, at the end of the story, the narrator pulls up the floorboards in front of the police to expose the corpse of the man whom he killed. Ironically, the object that drives the speaker to murder the old man is his eye, a homonym for the word "I." The underlying suggestion is that the "eye" is at the same time the symbol of the speaker's torment and of his own self-obsession.Narcissism is indeed prevalent in many of Poe's works both prose and poetry. Several of his poems, while they are written under the guise of being about particular women (such as "For Annie" and "Annabel Lee"), are only about the speaker. For instance, in "Annabel Lee," the woman about whom the poem is written is almost entirely absent from the poem, with the exception of her name. ...read more.

Conclusion

Poe then offers an explanation for the absence of papers detailing the process of composition, saying that most poets would "shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought at the true purposes seized only at the last moment at the innumerable glimpses of the idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view" What Poe does at this point is the same thing that the speakers in his other poems do he gives a covert confession. The frenzied, disorganized poetic process that Poe attributes to other poets is the very process by which he composes. The process by which Poe claims to have written "the Raven" is utterly absurd, and intentionally presented so. Just as the speaker in "Annabel Lee" gives such a ridiculous excuse for her death that it appears that he wants to be "found out," Poe makes his account of the poetic process so far-fetched that the reader becomes aware of the underlying confession. Similarly, the composing process that Poe describes is unrealistically premeditated and composed, much like the manner in which the guilty speakers narrate. The essay is, in fact, a "key" to reading his other poems. In making the essay a confession in itself, Poe draws the reader's attention to the subtle "complexity" and "suggestiveness" of the hidden confessions that characterize his other poems. At the same time, his use of confession as a basis for an essay about composition affirms the presence of a direct relationship between confession and creation. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Edgar Allan Poe section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Edgar Allan Poe essays

  1. Compare and Contrast "The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe and "A Confession ...

    This is and unexpected problem as the narrator has been so careful and cautious up to that point that he doesn't make any noise. However, there was some good that came out of this for the narrator as after this problem, he manages to see the eye.

  2. "The Raven" by Edgar A. Poe - oral commentary.

    - Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door - Perched, and sat, and nothing more. The word 'obeisance' refers to a movement of the body expressing deep respect; such as a bow or curtsy. 'Mien' means the way a person has of showing character, feeling etc.

  1. Comparison of The Raven and The Erlking

    The second point I am going to examine is the linguistic techniques used by the poets. The Raven has a lot of alliteration and is used very frequently. Examples of this alliteration is:- "While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping," "And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of

  2. How Far Does 'The Fall of The House of Usher' Meet With The Conventions ...

    He could have used 'shape' or 'create' instead of 'torture' but to add to the sinister feeling of the first paragraph he uses the later word which carries much more painful connotations. He also uses the word 'aught' an archaic noun meaning 'anything'.

  1. Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

    Recognizing that there is more to Poe's artistic and intellectual legacy than they hold, the individual works considered here accurately reflect the heights of his creative genius. In his tales, Mr. Poe has chosen to exhibit his power chiefly in that dim region which stretches from the very utmost limits

  2. How Doyle and Poe represent crime in their stories

    Poe's use of varied types of language also reflected upon the type of character the criminal is, including inverted word orders such as, 'He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult' this technique emphasizes the criminal's reasons and makes the text more interesting.

  1. Edgar Allan Poe Essay

    He did not hate the old man he hated the evil eye. It is clear to the reader as it is the main point of the short story's. And also they narrator constantly describes them as he is crazy and wanting to show off how pleased with himself he is.

  2. What makes Poe's writing Gothic?

    Both are effective interesting devices, skilfully employed and explored by Poe in much of his work. The first piece that illustrates effectively Poe's use of these aspects of Gothic is the short story William Wilson, a confessional narrative about the spiralling depths to which a man descends, disguising his true

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work