Edgar Allan Poe's Devices for Heightening the Effect of Horror

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Edgar Allan Poe's Devices for Heightening the Effect
of Horror and Terror in Short Stories (Yuliya Usenko)
("MS. Found in a Bottle" by Edgar Allan Poe)
In June 1883 Edgar Allan Poe won the short-story award with his “MS. Found in a Bottle”. The chairman of the awarding committee, John Pendleton Kennedy wrote a report for The Baltimore Saturday Visitor where he gave explanations of their selection: “Our selection of Ms. Found in a Bottle was rather dictated by the originality of its conception and its length, than by any superior merit in its execution over the others by the same author”1. What did he mean by using the phrase “the originality of its conception”? Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word “conception” as “the forming of a basic idea”. According to this definition, MS. Found in a Bottle was selected for its original central theme. In other words, the basic idea, which can be described as willingness to explore the borders of human fear, and the way of its interpretation by the author, who creates an atmosphere of horror and terror in the story; these are the main reasons for the remarkable success of MS. Found in a Bottle. In fact, what are these special devices for heightening the effect of horror and terror used by Edgar Allan Poe? Poe uses different literary means, such as the particular way of structuring the plot, various stylistic devices and first-person narration, for producing the effect of horror and terror in his short story. For instance, the structure of the plot creates suspense in MS. Found in a Bottle, and the development of events, which are arranged by the author in a particular order, leads to the increasing of horror. First, it’s just a sense of unease, which appears in the story as ”a very singular, isolated cloud, to the N. W.” Our hero “tells the captain his fears”. At this point, the reader deals only with “fears”. Soon, these fears grow into dread, and the hero “could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of...
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