The short story writer which I have chosen to research is Edgar Allen Poe. After reading one of his works in class, I realized that his mysterious style of writing greatly appealed to me. Although many critics have different views on Poe's writing style, I think that Harold Bloom summed it up best when he said, "Poe has an uncanny talent for exposing our common nightmares and hysteria lurking beneath our carefully structured lives. " ( 7) For me, this is done through his use of setting and narrative style.
In many of Poe's works, setting is used to paint a dark and gloomy picture in our minds. I think that this was done deliberately by Poe so that the
reader can make a connection between darkness and death. For example, in the "Pit and the Pendulum", the setting is originally pitch black. As the story unfolds, we see how the setting begins to play an important role in how the narrator discovers the many ways he may die. Although he must rely on his senses alone to feel his surroundings, he knows that somewhere in this dark, gloomy room, that death awaits him. Richard Wilbur tells us how fitting the chamber in "The Pit and the Pendulum" actually was. "Though he lives on the brink of the pit, on the very verge of the plunge into unconsciousness , he is
still unable to disengage himself from the physical and temperal world. The physical oppreses him in the shape of lurid graveyard visions; the temporal oppreses him in the shape of an enormous and deadly pendulum. It is altogether appropriate, then, that this chamber should be constricting and cruelly angular" (63).
Setting is also an important characteristic is Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". The images he gives us such as how both the Usher family and the Usher mansion are crumbling from inside waiting to collapse, help us to connect the background with the story. Vincent Buranelli says that "Poe is able to sysatin an atomosphere which is dark...