Poe vs. Shakespeare

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The Comparison of Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare

Brandi Greene

University Composition and Communication I/COM155

May 9th, 2013
University of Phoenix

The Comparison of Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare

Many have been inspired by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare in literature but, there are similarities and differences between the two. Each author could lure their audiences by the characteristics of their writing. Their places in society also differed, as each had different ways of dealing with the people in their society. Furthermore, the influences each of them had in literature have molded how many people see them as transcendent and prestigious authors.

The types of writing that Poe and Shakespeare wrote can be compared and contrasted in two categories, genre and language. Both Poe and Shakespeare wrote tragedies, but Shakespeare was also fluent in comedies like “Taming of the Shrew” and romance, such as “The Tempest.” Poe was only familiar with tragedy in a dark and mysterious sense, such as, “The Raven.” In Poe’s day, there were essentially five genres of “popular” stories: Romances (Sentimental and Historical), Morality tales, Humor/Burlesques, Adventures (mostly sea yarns, and later stories of the frontier) and tales of Sensation. (European Graduate School EGS, 1997-2012) Poe later, was also widely recognized as the inventor of modern detective stories and a mastermind in the science fiction genre. His writings were a reflection from the era of the Dark Romantics, the Gothic genre, and the use of his own personal issues. Every short story or poem written by Poe has had a dark ambiance about it. The works of Poe are diverse and includes classics as “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Tell Tale Heart”, and “The Black Cat.” The contributing factor of the predominate theme in his work of a lovely woman’s death was because of the losses of his mother and wife. This motif is perhaps most splendidly diagnosed in “The Raven" as the orator

utilizes his despair “for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore.” (Poe, 1845,11) Looking further into these dark works, Poe composed satirical creations like, “Mellonta Tauta,” a satire of such subtly defiant credence and thoughtful insights as to bewilder the mind. Another difference between their writing was, the language used between the two authors, which was influenced by the time eras they lived in. Poe's writing used an intricate vocabulary that created mysterious imagery to capture and lure the reader into the story like in “The Raven”, “But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only, That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.” (Poe, 1845, 55-56) Shakespeare wrote in the language that was used in his time, the Renaissance or more specifically Elizabethan times. Shakespeare was a master of the artistry of the English language. He wrote with such fluency of thought, word, rhythm, and sound that the works were presented in a elaborate manner, but not so incomprehensible, even for the inexperienced reader. He used unrhymed iambic pentameter in his writing, which made it sound more like poetry when spoken. This was used because most of his works were plays and were intended to be performed.“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet.” (Shakespeare, 1914, 1.2.37-40) Shakespeare often on occasion created his own form of grammar and vocabulary, much of which has since become generally used. Both of the examples show the difference in language and genres between the two writers. Can you see the undertones of each authors’ works as a tragedy of love?

The writers’ place in society greatly affected their lifestyles. Shakespeare thrived in society. His works became popular throughout England. Many came from all around just to

attend one of his...
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