The Raven Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights eText

Edgar Allan Poe

Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

As you read these stories and poems, pay attention to the following:

Poe's depiction of death:

Poe's portrayal of love and beauty, especially in the poems:

  • Love is chosen by the individual, not determined merely by fate.
  • Love has historical, sometimes mythological, references.
  • Love has no boundaries, not even in death.
  • Beauty is only an idea, one that even death cannot weaken.
  • Beauty in its ideal form cannot be attained.

Poe's innovative and unusual use of words in both genres:

  • Words are frequently used for the way they sound, as well as for their meanings.
  • Poe's rhythm and internal rhyme becomes almost hypnotic in many poems.
  • The difficult vocabulary reflects the style of Poe's time period.
  • Every important word is intended to evoke a mood or atmosphere in the reader, and Poe aimed for the same effect regardless of whether the work was prose or poetry.

Poe's ability to instill fear in the reader, primarily in the short stories:

  • Poe builds suspense throughout the stories, revealing some facts while withholding others.
  • Because the element of danger is usually present, the reader can feel the intensity of the emotions.
  • The narration is frequently first person, which makes the reader's connection to the story more intimate.
  • Poe's descriptions are usually minutely detailed to give a sense of verisimilitude to the stories, despite their supernatural atmosphere.
  • The use of irony and black humor is common.
  • Gothic elements are usually prominent in his writing: the supernatural, evil animals, and dark, gloomy settings
  • Poe's depictions of how the human mind works heighten a reader's connection to the story.
  • The surprise endings provide a reason to go back through the work to look for clues missed on the first reading.