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Poe’s Contradicting Style

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Poe’s Contradicting Style

When writing from the nineteenth century is the central topic of conversation, Edgar Allan Poe’s works are sure to come up as some of the most creative and innovative of that time. Though Poe did use a few elements of the era, he could never be classified as a solid romantic, due to his distinctly different and dark, almost gothic, style. People who wrote with romantic characteristics often showed a high regard for nature, a belief that all men are good, a strong sense of national pride, and more regard for acting impulsively. Poe, in all of his works, demonstrates many characteristics contrary to those beliefs, therefore he was not a romantic writer.

While perusing The Raven, it can be difficult to spot romantic characteristics, and there are many points that contradict romantic beliefs. The speaker, is the dark, solitary type, and while his scholarly traits could attribute to the romantic notion that the journey to knowledge is the most important ever, the amount of points that negate romanticism completely outweighs that one trait. In line 26, when the speaker declares, “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before,” it shows the main character’s doubt and confusion towards the possible person outside, and towards anything outside in general (Poe 257). Romantics were known to be trusting, to an extreme, and to go with their gut feelings. He displays none of this through his character’s actions.

Poe used The Fall of the House of Usher to show that you didn’t need to subscribe wholeheartedly to one set of beliefs, but that a little of both romanticism and realism is the way to go. The unnamed narrator of this chilling tale says of the Usher family that “the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain,” describing them as, essentially, inbred. The Usher family could represent the romantic community, which encouraged strong patriotism and a sense of being a part of their new nation. The disease in their family, and the history of mental instability, is Poe’s way of telling his readers that to be too much a part of a group is not too good of an idea. You compromise who you are, and become who they are. This is further demonstrated by the likeness between the two siblings of the house of Usher, and their simultaneous deaths through this over trusting of a community that collapses on itself from too much support.


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