Mood of Obsession in Berenice by Edgar Allan Poe

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Madelyn Fontenot
English III
Vara
March 29, 2013
Mood of obsession:
Use of literary devices to enhance the mood of “Berenice” Famous author and poet Edgar Allan Poe is well known for his writing of ill-minded scenarios and grotesque circumstances. Poe, one of America’s most ailing writers, made use of many different literary devices to develop his popular, eerie, and suspenseful mood. In “Berenice” (1835), Edgar Allan Poe creates a perturbed mood to uniquely describe love, life, and death through his use of terror inflicting diction, gloomy description, and obtuse syntax. “Berenice” is a short horror story about a man who is going to marry his cousin, Berenice, and when she contracts a disease, she begins to deteriorate. As she slowly falls apart, the only things that remain healthy looking are her teeth which Egaeus, the main character, begins to obsess over. Later, Egaeus is falsely notified that Berenice has died and her grave has been disturbed. Next to him lays a box of all thirty-two white teeth and the reader is left to assume the rest. Poe utilizes irregular diction in his story to illustrate a mood of pure delirium. Poe ends the first paragraph of the story by saying, “How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness?—from the covenant of peace a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born” (1). The use of terms such as “unloveliness,” “sorrow,” and “evil” provokes feelings of sadness and depression, which aids the reader in understanding the story’s plot. Poe presents the words “ardent,” “startled,” and “wild” to accentuate the mood of nervousness that the narrator explains and feels. These words all help stress the narrator’s feelings of anxiety and confusion. Toward the end of the story, Poe uses the words “hideous” and “vain” which also adds to the mood of doom. Generally, the diction Poe utilizes helps to assort the story’s mood of hopelessness. Description is...
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