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Engligh Extended Essay on Egdgar Allen Poe

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Dreams: How Are They Used By Edgar Allen Poe in His Short Stories and Poetry To Create Terror and Mirror The Narrator's Sense of Reality? Nandini Chandra Extended Essay 19th November 2009 Word count: 3984 Student number: 1267005 Abstract This essay discusses the uses of the concept of dreams by Edgar Allen Poe in his short stories and poems and how they are used to mirror the narrator's or a character's perception of reality and create terror. The poems used were Dreams, A Dream, and A Dream Within A Dream. The short stories referred to are both from his famous horror collection and are called The Pit and the Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe uses a 1st person narration in both his short stories and his poetry, generally without giving an idea who the person is, nor is the narrator omniscient. This creates a blurry, dreamy effect which, in turn, creates the effect of fear. An example of this is the confused narration through The Pit and the Pendulum ends up emphasizing the torture that the prisoners of the Spanish inquisition were put through. His use of diction in poetry is heavily relied on to extend the narrator's views on dreams themselves. Poe uses imagery, such as portraying the evanescence of dreams through the image of trying to clutch sand. It is shown that Poe uses dreams heavily as a contrast or as a comparison to reality to underline his image of reality. His short stories concentrate heavily on the concept of dreams as delusions, something referred to in his poetry as well, and how the surreal is used to emphasize the underlying point of his stories. Poe heavy handedly uses the personification of non-living objects to create a dream-like scenario. Finally he uses echoes extensively throughout his literature to bring out a sensation of fantasy which has the effect of underlining its message or producing a certain feeling in the reader such as terror. Contents Page 1. ...read more.

Middle

This use of surrealism, like in The Fall of The House of Usher, is used to terrify the reader as it emphasizes how madness overtook those imprisoned by the inquisition; a main point of the short story. The candles in the judgment room are also given faces, first of "white slender angels" of forgiveness and then transform into "meaningless specters", another blurry, dream-like transition from one image to another which gives the idea of the protagonist hallucinating, or dreaming. This use of surreal imaging has the effect of letting the reader know how the protagonist's emotions in the judging room transform from a hope that he may be found innocent and set free to the terror and hopelessness that he finds himself convicted and condemned to death. This image at the beginning of the story, has the effect of taking the reader straight into viewing the protagonist's view of reality. Poe also uses his poetry to convey dreams in the sense of their finite attributes and in doing so creates a sense of fear in the reader. In A Dream Within A Dream he associates dreams, as well as life, as un-graspable as "grains of golden sands", showing a daunting lack of control that one has in dreams. He calls life, in all it's wayward forms, "a dream within a dream" to describe the eerie sensation that life is not real but made up of evanescent feelings and images that themselves are part of something as fleeting. Poe uses dreams to show how people live once "hope has flown away", that once it is gone they believe in nothing, a frightening concept as if there is nothing to believe there is nothing to live for. It is a foggy image that he explains using many metaphors through the poem such as the image of "a surf-tormented shore", which, again, gives the picture of life as an unstable environment because the sea shore is never stable as the sands keep changing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Poe uses a 1st person narration in both his short stories and his poetry, without giving an idea who the person is, nor making him omniscient. This creates a blurry, dreamy effect which, in turn, has the effect of creating a sense of fear. An example of this is the confused narration through The Pit and the Pendulum ends up emphasizing the torture that the prisoners of the Spanish inquisition were put through. His use of emotive diction in poetry is heavily relied on to extend the narrator's perception of reality and dreams. This is shown extensively through his poetry such as in Dreams where he starts with an exclamation "Oh!". Poe uses imagery, such as portraying the evanescence of dreams through the image of trying to clutch sand. It is shown that Poe uses dreams heavily as a contrast or as a comparison to reality to underline the narrator's image of reality. This can be shown through the title of his poem A Dream Within A dream as here he feels that life is in reality nothing but a dream inside yet another dream. Poe's short stories concentrate heavily on the concept of dreams as delusions, something referred to in his poetry as well, and how the surreal is used to create terror in his stories. Poe uses the personification of non-living objects to create a frightening dream-like scenario. This is illustrated by the vivid life brought to the house of Usher as well as the thoughts attributed to the pit in The Pit And The Pendulum. Finally he uses echoes extensively throughout his literature to bring out a sensation of fantasy which has the effect of producing a sense of horror in the reader, such as the terror inspired by the echoing to Madeline's screams with the sounds in the story being read aloud in The Fall of The House of Usher. ...read more.

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