Comparing Edgar Allan Poe and Henry David Thoreau

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Edgar Allan Poe and Henry David Thoreau were two very different authors, one was a mastermind of Gothic literature, while the other was a transcendentalist. One can understand Poe’s knack for stories like The Fall of the House of Usher because of his unprivileged childhood. His father deserted his family, and his mother died while Poe was very young (Wiggins 288). He also lived through constant poverty and suffered from depression, his only refuge being his wife, Virginia, who died when she was only 24 (Wiggins 289). The work that will be used in this essay is The Fall of the House of Usher, which really touches upon Poe’s style of writing. It’s use of an extremely dark setting and the way it’s characters are portrayed really help explain this. Thoreau, on the other hand, was eccentric and independent as a child, and didn’t care about rules (Wiggins 377). He questioned authority as an adult, getting him into prison for a night for not paying his taxes to protest the Mexican-American War (Wiggins 388). His experiences at Walden Pond helped set the stage for the work that will be used in this essay, Walden. This work reflects on Thoreau’s hopeful and virtuous style of writing. The concepts he presents about intuition and self-realization really support this. The styles of Edgar Allan Poe and Henry David Thoreau are polar opposites because of the imagery that is evoked, connotation, and tone.

The imagery evoked in the reader’s mind in The Fall of the House of Usher and Walden is very different. In Poe’s story, one of the first bits of this element presented is the actual house and it’s surroundings. It creates an unforgiving and bleak setting for the story.

“ I looked upon the scene before me --upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain --upon the bleak walls --upon the vacant eyelike windows --upon a few rank sedges --and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees --with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to...
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