Form and Content
Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales is his most representative collection, containing a wider variety of stories than the earlier Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1839). The dozen stories in the book include his metaphysical fables “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,” and “Mesmeric Revelation”; two of his dark tales of obsession and isolation, “The Black Cat” and “The Man of the Crowd”; one of his best-known literary parodies, “Lionizing”; his chilling gothic adventure “A Descent into the Maelstrom”; his four innovative tales of ratiocination and detection, “The Gold Bug,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” and “The Purloined Letter”; and his most famous masterpiece of romantic alienation, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
In “Mesmeric Revelation,” Poe uses hypnotism to explore his own metaphysical views about the nature of reality as being design and form rather than simple matter. Under a hypnotic trance, the character Vankirk responds to questions about the nature of God and material reality with theories that Poe later develops in his philosophic poem Eureka (1848). “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” is a dialogue between Charmion, an aged spirit from the netherworld, and Eiros, a new spirit whom he inducts into the realm of Edenic reality. The same theme is continued in the dialogue “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” in which the Fall of Man is described as a fall from the life of concrete reality into the life of science and abstraction.
“The Black Cat” is one of...
(The entire section is 674 words.)