Picture this. The father of modern crime and detective stories, known as Edgar Allan Poe, is sitting down about to write a beautiful piece of writing and BAM! He whisks away into a story of love, death, and just plain out horror; either characters are losing someone near and dear to their hearts or they are plotting to kill. Edgar Allan Poe, at a very young age, lost both of his parents, and later on in life, lost his wife to tuberculosis, so in one way or another, these stories reflect off of his personal experiences. A major theme in Poe’s writings is death.
The theme of death is seen throughout the works of Annabel Lee, the Cask of Amontillado, the Raven, and the Black Cat. In the poem Annabel Lee, death is the dominant theme. Poe has experienced the death of his one and only true love. “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride, in her sepulcher there by the sea,” shows how Poe is going through the loss of his love in a more strange way by “lying down” by the side of Annabel Lee’s lifeless corpse, inside her tomb. You also know that the theme is death because he mentions how angels and demons could never truly separate them.
“But our love it was stronger by far… and neither the angels in Heaven above nor the demons down under the sea can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee,” expresses the more grieving and less obsessive side of Poe. Although his darling has been taken from him and death physically separated them, they are still “together” for their love was more than love and their souls had become one. Death is an important theme in The Cask of Amontillado. The entire plot is fixated around the revenge Montressor must take against Fortuanto.
“-He did not perceive that my smile was now at the thought of his immolation,” is pretty much self-explanatory; Montressor smiles at the thought of Fortunato’s destruction… His death. Once Fortuanto agreed to go down to Montressor’s catacombs, his fate drastically changed. “-He stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. ” Right here, Fortuanto’s fate completely changed for shortly after this, Montessor had chained him to granite and began to “throw links about his waist;” this is where he was going to die. Once Fortuanto was officially dead, Montressor’s revenge had been fulfilled.
“For half a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat! ” Fortunato’s corpse is now amongst other dead family members belonging to Montressor, and although Montressor was the cause of Fortunato’s death, he still says “may he rest in peace. ” Montressor didn’t really mean it because if he did feel any remorse towards Fortuanto, he wouldn’t have killed him in the first place. Death is definitely an important theme for this short story. The Raven analyzes the theme of death. In the poem, the narrator is seeking hope and wisdom after the death of Lenore.
“Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there… But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, and the only word spoken was the whispered word, Lenore? This I whispered, and an echo murmured back Lenore? Merely this and nothing more,” describes how the narrator believed he heard the name of his love, but then his hope fades as nothing more is said. The narrator had to face that his love was no longer there with him because she was dead. “Nevermore” is the only response the raven gives to the helpless narrator, and it makes him increasingly agitated because he is starting to believe that his love is never coming back.
Through this, the raven, a sign of despair, helps him realize that he will “nevermore” see Lenore. Death is explored in the Black Cat. Death was experienced when the narrator’s intoxicated actions went too far. “I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. ” This shows just one consequence of the narrator’s horrifying mind set, and after he had killed his wife, he stated, “this hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire deliberation, to the task of concealing the body.”
The narrator isn’t so worried that he just killed his wife in a drunken stage; he is more worried about where to hide the carcass of his once beloved wife. Although not feeling much remorse for his wife, the narrator feels guilt after he abused what used to be his most favorite pet. “-I experienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, for the crime of which I had been guilty. ” This expresses how the narrator, although a murdered, actually feels sorry; after he harmed the black cat, known as Pluto, he actually felt true remorse.
The narrator may have felt sorry, but he didn’t give up his story until the cries of the cat did for him. “- Then I was answered by a voice from within the tomb! – by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream – a howl – a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph…” The narrator’s crime was then exposed by the in-human screams. Once heard by the police, they tore down the wall that was covering the tomb of his once beloved wife.
Not only did the narrator wall up his wife, but he also “walled the monster up within the tomb! ” One could say the black cat got its revenge and the narrator would forever pay in guilt. Death has been seen throughout the stories of Annabel Lee, the Cask of Amontillado, the Raven, and the Black Cat. The theme of death is not limited to these stories; death is a major theme in all of Poe’s works. Poe’s life-long struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened after the death of his own loved one, and could have possibly caused his own death. Poe will forever be remembered as the father of crime and detective stories.