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An explication and commentary on Poe's "Premature Burial"

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An explication and commentary on Poe's "Premature Burial"

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  • March 22, 2004
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"The Premature Burial" by Edgar Allen Poe is a brilliant work of true rhetorical mastery. Poe utilizes such strategies as vivid description and aims this passage at a wide array of readers.

Poe's purpose is quite exceptional. He directs the essay mostly towards the non-believers of premature burial. He has developed this composition in order to argue his views about the topic and to persuade others into accepting them. Another and possibly more significant intention is to suggest to physicians that closer observations need to be performed before declaring someone has died.

Poe's purpose appears to tie in to his audience in this case. Nonbelievers of premature burial are sure to read his passage, as well as anyone that has an interest in the subject. Physicians and other scientists are probable targets for this essay also because at the time, people did not have extremely deep knowledge when it came to the life processes. They could use all the help that they could get, so they would most likely view this essay with open eyes.

The strategies employed by Poe are skillful. He gives both facts and opinions from credited doctors to assist in strengthening his argument. His utilization of vivid description is by far the most valuable rhetorical tool. He describes the woman's appearance while still in the hospital with details such as, "pinched and sunken outline," "lips of marble pallor," "lusterless eyes," and, "the cessation of the pulse and any signs of warmth."

Poe again exercises figurative portrayals when illustrating the scene of the investigation. He assisted the reader in visualizing her struggle to break free of the coffin and then her futile efforts to escape the ironwork inside the tomb. He truly paints a picture in the psyche of the reader.

Edgar Allen Poe is an accomplished author who is a specialist at applying rhetorical instruments to his writings. This fact is clearly demonstrated in his concise, yet informative passage, "The Premature...