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Edgar Allan Poe: The relationship between symbolic imagery and the human psyche in “Metzengerstein” and “A Tale Of The Ragged Mountains”

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  1. History, Narrative, and Authority.
  2. Barbarese - 'Character becomes a densely configured allegorical shape'.
  3. The use of a physical object to allegorize a character's psyche.
  4. Conclusion.

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best known authors in American literature. John Kehoe (1997) discusses Poe's life in his brief biographical article ?Edgar Allan Poe.? Kehoe explains that Poe is considered to be one of the major literary figures of the Romantic Movement that existed between 1780 and 1830. Although Poe was not born until 1809, he contributed greatly to the latter half of this historical period. He died in 1849 and still currently remains one of the most popular canonical figures studied in classic literature today. The works of Poe include a multitude of poems, short stories, literary criticism, newspaper articles, and one novella. It is difficult to place Poe's works into just one genre, as they can fall into several categories including detective fiction, science fiction, Gothic fiction, and southern fiction. One phrase that is frequently used in reference to Poe is ?The Poet of the Macabre.? Violence, death, destruction, and insanity are all dominant themes that can be seen throughout his works. Poe also examines the many depths of the human mind by including psychological phenomena that involve hallucinations, hypnosis, metempsychosis, mesmerism, and animal magnetism(Kehoe 96-97).1 While there are many aspects to take into consideration when reading Poe, this paper will focus specifically on his use of symbolic imagery in relation to the human psyche. A comparison of the two short stories ?Metzengerstein? and ?A Tale Of The Ragged Mountains? will be discussed in regards to this specific relationship.

[...] I think that Poe's use of the tapestry in ?Metzengerstein? and the city in Tale Of The Ragged Mountains? is a brilliant allegorical device that just exemplifies the madness and psychological dissolution that both protagonists experience. In both of these short stories, I believe that Poe is advocating the idea that what may appear to be is not always what it is. Furthermore, I think that Poe tries to get readers to understand the many profound levels of the human mind and its seemingly impossible capabilities. [...]


[...] The horse itself, in the foreground of the design, stood motionless and statue-like? while, farther back, its discomfited rider perished by the dagger of a Metzengerstein (Poe 202-203, italics added). As Baron Metzengerstein listens to the ?uproar in the stables of Berlifitzing? (Metzengerstein 202) after the stables have been set on fire2, eyes were turned unwittingly to the figure of . [the] unnaturally colored horse represented in the tapestry? (Metzengerstein 203). To the Baron's ?extreme horror and astonishment, the head of the gigantic steed had . [...]

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