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Poe's Use Of Madness In Poe, By Edgar Allan Poe

Decent Essays
Edgar Allan Poe can be considered a Gothic writer because his work exhibits several key traits of Gothic artwork. The Gothic romance of the early 17th century began as an artistic movement against the Enlightenment and, as a result, is characterized by its focus on the exact opposite of everything the Enlightenment stood for; such as death, decay, and reversal of the natural order. In exploring Poe as a Gothic writer this discussion will focus on his use of madness and the irrational in "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell-Tale Heart", as well as the failure of reason in "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Cask of Amontillado". Poe's work often features a mad narrator trying to rationalize his madness. This is the case for the narrator, Montresor, in "The Cask of Amontillado". Montresor often refers to the murder of his companion as an act of "revenge" or "retribution", lending it the appearance of an act of justice rather than the irrational act of a murderer (280). Further, rationalizing madness is perhaps most notable in "The Tell-Tale Heart", in which the narrator is obsessed with the old man's eye. Obsession was viewed as irrational during the Enlightenment and, for that reason, it was a popular theme in Gothic literature. The narrator also exhibits other irrational behaviour including killing and dismembering the old man, falling into hysterics at the end of the story, and harbouring illusions about being death itself. Throughout this madness, he tries to
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