Task: Prepare a critical essay on Edgar Allan Poe's writings.
Essay Topic: Critical Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories
Essay Type: Critical Essay
Length: 4 pages
Formatting: MLA
Requirements: Assess writing methods and strategies used by Edgar Allan Poe in his short stories. Conduct detailed review of Poe’s writing theories.
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Edgar Allan Poe is an American literary master. He is believed to have written many of the best pieces of literature in English history. His prowess was greatly seen in his writings that attracted crowds of readers. Poe’s work also gained popularity in the academic sector as his popularity also drew criticisms. This essay will focus on the single elements in which Poe uses to describe most of his novels. It will look on three of his stories that share a common critical element. Poe has placed emphasis on the unity of effect in many of his works. Poe embraces unity of effect as a means to impact the emotions of his readers. This is evident through the common phrases and words he has chosen in different stories. By using unity of effect, Poe is suggesting that the artist has the full freedom to decide on the effect he wants to make in the emotional response of the reader.

Unity of Effect – Fear

The other element of creation that was used to write this story includes fear. This is portrayed through the ways in which Poe creates a fearful effect in the readers’ mind. The element of fear is meant to trigger a sixth sense in the reader and engage their mind on what the author is talking about. This is seen in stories such as “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Through this fear Poe brings out a sense of unity. Poe shows that the artists should create the readers response. This includes using the issues that are best to the audience. If describing beauty Poe brings out a tone of sadness to evoke fear. Presenting a tone of sadness to generate fear was powerfully used by Poe in describing the death of an important woman. The characters that Poe uses this strategy for are as follows: Ligeia, Lenore, and Annabel Lee. This factor made the death of a character to be perceived by the reader as horrible and gut-wrenching.

His poems are allegorical with symbolic meanings. This captures the intellect of the readers and encourages them conceptualize issues with the narrator. The poems have several meanings such as to entertain and raise the soul. After only a short time with Poe’s content, the readers’ mind is not able to contain additional information. This brought up the issue of the mind not being able to process such high degrees of pure emotion. Many writers have been influenced by Poe’s theory concerning the length of writing as an art. Through daily writing, conceptual art became part of Poe’s everyday existence. This is what made Poe a successful short story writer and earned him the title of “father of modern detective stories” (Momaday 45).

The other method Poe used was the unity of effect. Examples of unity of effect in Poe’s writing include the cask of amontillado that occurs in a closed vault. The other words which best define this approach are the tale of pit of pendulum and the massacre of the red death. These two examples are seen to be locked in iron gates and also captured inside a blocked castle. This application demonstrates the power of unity of effect often employed by Poe in his works. Furthermore, this strategy is also used by P oe’s as a prime writing precept and is commonly implemented in the vast majority of his writings.

However, many critics are found to disagree with Poe’s writing theories. This has become a subject of constant debate in academic literature circles. Through this we get to remember Aristotle who was a major critic that lived over 2300 years ago Aristotle was such a great philosopher that many of his concepts continue to be supported today. This shows the extent from which the origin of criticism takes roots. Some of the artists do not strictly adhere to these critical philosophies.

Poe examines any similarity between love and hatred. He dwells on two stories which are “William Wilson” as well as “The Tell Tale Heart”. He points out the psychological content between the two opposite emotions and establishes how they enigmatically combine into each other. Poe uses his psychology with references to the hypothesis displayed by Sigmund Freud that founded the field of psychoanalysis. According to Poe, he took love to be the greatest emotions. The story “Gothic Terror” comes as a result of the narrators love for himself and the hatred he had for his rival. Bringing out the inseparable aspects of love and hatred demonstrates to the reader that there can be two sides forming human emotion that are both valid. The narrator is also exposing a major conflict that exists between loving himself and then hating himself all at the same time.

Poe has given much attention to both the dead and the living. By carefully crafting words of comparison and contrast, Poe is able to show the stark differences between the dead and the living. Often times, the illusion is that the characters are dead on the inside or the spirits of the dead survive in memory even though the physical body is deceased. A major case where Poe has mentioned the dead is the writings include a discussion on his deceased wife. The idea of his wife is presented when she falls ill from mysterious sicknesses. The issue of bringing back the dead is not meant to scare the reader as much as it is used to show the power of love. Conceptualizing the dead is used to shows the ways in which the power of love goes beyond the power of death. Poe uses this strategy to show the power of the love bond primarily because death is permanent and unchangeable. The power of love is so great that it can encourage people to consider the most outrageous solutions such as raising the dead.


This essay shows some of the key strategies used by Poe to encourage his writings to be successful. His successes are supported by key ingredients that include increasing the emotional response among his readers. The essay has shown several examples as well as included specific characters to analyze the effectiveness of Poe’s techniques. Poe is able to invoke an emotional response among his readers by carefully crafting interesting plots, outrageous characters, unity of effect, allegory, and symbolism. Lastly, Poe is highly successful because his writings are works of art with meticulous care of detail. This allows his writings to impact the reader directly and powerfully while using very few words.

Work cited.

Momaday. House made of dawn. Harper Perennial, 1999.

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This essay is super-poorly written. In fact, it’s one of those essays that make you want to throw it out from the window, and watch the pages flow in the wind.

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