Edgar Allan Poe once poetically wrote, “Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,” (The Raven). Throughout Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, he uses the same major themes and literary techniques to convey his message, sometimes stemming from his personal life. The major themes Poe used are love, pride/revenge, beauty, and death . Moreover, the major literary techniques Edgar used are unity of effect, irony, imagery, and setting .
The first major theme Poe used throughout his writings was love. The theme of love was usually more specifically about a mourning man for his deceased beloved . Moreover, this is where the major theme of love intertwines with the second major theme of death. Poe consistently uses these two major themes in his literary works because in most of his works there is a beloved woman who has died. For example, in Lenore, this poem is about the main character mourning/rejoicing the death of his beloved Lenore through an atypical funeral elegy. Although, Guy de Vere is celebrating Lenore’s death because he believes she has moved on to a better place, i.e. Heaven. Some will argue that Poe’s fascination with death and love, and the reason for these recurring themes in his works, stems from his personal life. Taking a brief delve into Poe’s personal life, reveals that Poe’s work is shadowed by the deaths of four women he loved intensely: his beloved wife Virginia, his mother (who died when he was 2 years old), Jane Stanard, and Frances Allan (his foster mother) . Edgar Allan Poe used these two major themes together to convey his melancholy message and more specifically, he used death as a source of horror . Poe believed that the saddest subject in the world was the death of a beautiful young woman, so he chose that as the subject of many of his poems. He then concluded that the narrator of the poem should be the dead woman’s lover, the one, Poe believed, would be most deeply affected by her death . Very similar to the poem “Lenore”, “The Raven” conveys these two recurring major themes very effectively. Throughout “The Raven”, Poe uses imagery that conveys a sense of sorrow over the death of the narrator’s lover Lenore . Therefore, it is clear that Edgar Allan Poe used love and death as two major themes throughout his literary writings.
This leads to the third major theme that Edgar Allan Poe used throughout his literary writings – Beauty. This third major theme of beauty ties into the other two major themes of death and love because like it was stated before, Poe believed the most soul tugging topic in the universe was the death of a beautiful young woman. Poe devoted a great deal of attention to the lyrical qualities of his poetry in order to convey a sense of beauty to portray the beautiful woman, which he believed, “invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears,” . This them of beauty was either of a young woman either dying or dead. Poe used a great deal of imagery to explain how beautiful these women truly were in poems such as “Lenore” and “To Helen”. In “Lenore”, he compares her to an angel (“Lenore”). Moreover, in “To Helen”, he compares her to a ship bring a “weary, way worn wanderer” to his home (“To Helen”).
The fourth and final major theme that Edgar Allan Poe used throughout his literary writings is pride and revenge. This major theme of pride and revenge is prominent in most of his writings but it is especially apparent in his 1846 tale “The Cask of Amontillado”, which is one of his best known works . It is the story of a revenge-obsessed man, Montressor, who tricks his enemy Fortunato into following him into a catacomb in search of a pipe of Amontillado . Throughout Poe’s short story, Montressor slowly but surely reveals his plan to his victim, who is too drunk to notice . Climaxing, the murderer chains his victim to a wall and bricks him up alive in a compartment. The theme of revenge in this tale can be looked at as revenge being the driving...
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