Group Title: Ascent and return
Title: Ascent and return: the redemptive voyage of Poe's hero
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Title: Ascent and return: the redemptive voyage of Poe's hero
Physical Description: viii, 159 . ; 28cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hussey, John Patrick, 1941-
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1971
Copyright Date: 1971
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis-University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: . 154-158.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097674
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000142556
oclc - 01889763
notis - AAQ8721


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Copyright by

John Patrick Hussey



kl JD, ;.3OVE 7LL,
il' WiFE, ilAilCY 7.ill


i must har.k the following people for their counsel in

the making of this study: Professors Thomas Hanna, Carl

Bredahl, Alton M.orris; Professor John B. Pickard, a steady

sc-rce of comfort and encouragement; and, especially,

Profe::sor Gordon E. Bigelow, chairman of my committee,

'.:hose steadfast support made it all finally happen, and

whose humane and enthusiastic commitment has honored his

students and the literature of America for twenty years.

.:'.d, too, Lhese others must be mentioned. Their in-

fluence on this study is perhaps not immediate or obvious,

but su-ely if, in any way, I appear here to the good, so

..I-.o :bo J:ey: mr father, the late Clarence L. Husscy, and

*1 l-rot.her, Ji.; my other family, the Kirchne.s; my teachers,

-'rs. '.' ra ?F.t!erson, Alex J. Calmeyn, Sister Mary Patricia,

O.S. !. ;T::he late Reverend Joseph L. Milunas, S.J., John F.

:a, ,--.v on E.. pi 4gelow, .John B. Pickard, and Aubrey L.

'..I ,..:; tLh. *:ans of Monica Avenue (Dctroit, 1963-65) and

!-,- .i..:'.j 'j (Gainesville, 1967--71) ; ,y dear friends,

.,d .: .c C-;.ol Behr, Sister Mary Renee, O.S.M., Dennis

.- Eli ;i-.-i Carrigan, J. Richard Raleioh, Robert F. George,

.In :,. .:e-:Ae, and Robert and Judio Watson; and of course

;::s1 .:.:;-i. .j '.lhomm ithis study is dedicated, whose love

cn.tinfies al'-'ays to sustain and keep me.


-.C ]O L..'L.E GE 1 TS . . . . .

. BST CT . . . . . . . .


CLH.PTER OlE. Poe's Hero . . .

CH. TE?. TWO:. To,..-rd ',ur Vival . .

CHI-'TER iTHFFEE: To':ard Truth ...

C :L''R. .C CL.R: T-:ra, t e '.ision .

%i triP. -I 'L: T :r. Rt.:o L ci. 11. ion .

C i:PTLR I:. I : To:.: 3 d ch.: Po.- . .

CLW cLr.^.J.;1 : '7 r..finq tje Cit r.e .

SL ZCTED 2 F3BLI 'P '" . . . .

S, .'.PHIU C..L Si T ; . . . .


2* 2
. . . iv

. . . 2

...... 13

. . 34

. . 54

. . . 105

. . . 128

. . 149

...... 154

. . . .

.:':. ...L C o ..issert,:at-ion Presented tc the Gradua'te Ccuncil
,rf '. J!I .siL.y of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
.2auirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philcsophy

The Redemptive Voyage of Poe's Hero


John Patrick Hussey

August, 1971 Dr. Gordon E. BCigclow
l',." Depacrtirrent: English

Poe's, 1 1!.: :;. Je.rnstr .es a b-asicallv affirmative

*. i.c: of ianL kind's potential for rec.--.tion. As corrobo-

;-.'d by hi3s essays ancd Eureka, c hoievC humanity, in

... :'cse"t. state, to be lost: and damned, cut off from 'the

,'-*.;-,' of its paradisal oriqi.ns and from the hope for any-

;;i;.-g buc :,eaninglesss extinction. /ur he beli.aed

I:'.:: ;. hire score Imen of geni us A-ho p c's essed the capacity to

: ..dle in mankind the one f.-acult ., :h:t of Tastb, which

,c av;1.. awaken them to the bea.luty- of universal design and

!'i*: to their own latenr- divinJitv. lHowever, this savior-

ni,.; is constantly beset b.y the p- .rils of a savage world.

Vand vn nce criti-cally, b)y the rm nth:rop~y, sloth, and

I -.i .is9i i which seem always to accompany genius. I-e can

cn'.:,: r only by continued asserti..-; s-of c I.. ..! 11 and reaso..

.In to deo.iins rate that much of P.inPa's fiction grows out

c-" ;. :-e same beliefs, thi:;s s udv arranges nearly thirty of

11. L... '-e t....: t-h ',v be o .;:"e cL ":. 10 S o: m1-. -

iC-, t.'' ..he :. 't lero to fu].f:i.l h:s sai.".'i.c 'id

:.:.- pi1 -. d-= t-::' a-- s-er-r --i d po'..t.

'*.: I- r.j iTijst iJ -st ftLnd ,..i;:rin lhimsel F the "rar':; to

S'JuVi'L-.- E .:-rlthL ; a fre rcatic'1tl >-.,afn e.Ji Ugo. If

11 f I--If
h- L- llioT l &i..iel.2f ro fal l rU y to prie. or n 'o he .&. s h r ,.:ill

S 1 de toy ins lf " iam 1.30 "flThe r ll- 7ale

i "The. Bt.c ,::"). Ey hi ~it besoti -c .L nd -
-7rcirg n 0.i gc.'ers of ii rL.d into -D I'ocM^ d a .:.aino he c**

" r-: :-:1 3 h.- Pen l u^"t) .

i:. he : i.",., do t T.' -. Foc i. ti L b e he

Lu p ci '.,-, ;i->',d'ni: i,-g f ,o rc, f .i .I..I. i ". 1'-" '.--'. f cho

i.: c.a2 a L sher, :ci .-:e.11 .i3 sc':e;c n...j;r o- rij cc :Ah.-t4 tr

" -z ,:ti (",- i t -r' :,i i' y 1.ui.n,; D'uS ) ,i ,, ; ['2-,t. -. cO" '. ;- ;

.h.c :;', ', :. ;o ; : ,. .o c ,- th :, r.,i.ilt o f .ht a '-; L'. :- :' : . ',' 1.,. :,3

'., :: v Z'n. .? *- ". .0 '.h i ':-." :h I13 'i ,.:-s c. .n z :.. '.-c : 12 -

S ', .. . . .- .. .i :. q .. n : 1 .-, -. '.. c

. .r. i- .I I r: l .: i : . i. .. .. '.* 1. 1.-. .2 .. .

i.., .'. i l . '.; .o ,r L, . ': :- .. .. L -. . -

Z Ci \'. o C.

S1- - ."-" .- i- '. ,. :. : -. ,,, .- 2 .

;c1. jc.L ;i..: :r : u: *:." :,t o:.:.-:-. ,r-" m" -[P-c-: 11

.' 2 1.

"i.s. Found in a Bottle" learns only after great suffering.

Arthur Gordon Pym, who masters the difficulties of all the

previous protagonists, is finally readied for visionary

ecstasy by his acceptance of the proto-poet Dirk Peters as

i-is guide to the world of spirit.

But the Hero must return from his vision if he is to

.evoke, in art, the effects of its redemptive beauty for all

mankind. To do so, he must accept its evanescence and his

own'. mortality and responsibility. "Ligeia" and other sto-

ries show the deadly results for himself, for those he loves,

?.nd for his art if he does not achieve the kind of reconcili-

aLton attained by the narrator of "Eleonora."

Finally, he must find a means to share and make perma-

n:;-nt i-he effects of his vision, a triumph finally achieved

i, "The Domain of Arnheim" and "Landor's Cottage." Para-

'loxically, the Hero has succeeded because he put his "tech-

nological" gifts of reason and will to the service of a

b.-ically Eastern view of universal life and unity. He is

t'e disciple of both Locke and Buddha.


"n '.ng these Tales one by one, at long i-terva:ls, I

e.-.r- i;Lepi: the bL'okL-unity alway.:s in mind--that is, e3ch has

/*=ie.i composed w.ith reference to its effect as part of a


--Letter from Poe to P. P. Coo:ke, August ', 13-!6

"W*ith how. unaccountable an obstinacy even our best '.wriLers

:07c.Lst in talking about 'moral courage'--as iF' there ,could

b 3i ,jn courage that '.w'as not moral . The ener.,y -..,'hich

:).'* c.mecs fear--l.'let.her fear of evil izhrea c-te the pers-on

:i .:hireacuering the impersonal circumstances amid '.'hicih '.:e

-.'.s t . is, o' course, simrpl, 'moral. '"

P-e s La rgina lia

S 1. on ly It : phi losophical .''1yn:-:e'y'c th-at, through ihe

i1,,:.-:; Lty-!.ist of i-an's life, can still -iscerni the ligyni.Ly

of r la "

*-- Pooe' s M ... gnalia


Baudelaire did' more for Poe than make him an inter--

national literary figure. In his essays, he also estab-

lished all the major propositions about Poe which critics

nave debated ever since. Essentially-, Baudelaire propounded

these '.hrce theses: 1) that <'s a man, doomed by internal

an:i external forces, Poe was driven to isolation, mental

ag.-,ny, fits of perversity and frustrated dream flights into

tl-e reaEim of in-ematerial Beauty; 2) that his tortured life

:-.nd temperament are directly reflected in his art; 3) and

th:t, therefore, Poe's poetry and fiction are filled with

.l f-..imin;.ioli iean ad mental collapse.

''od:.ay, the first t'..'o of these points are nore or loss

.d i issues .Arthur Iobson Q\ui.n 's exhaustive biog'jraphy2

*r.. he cc!.pl..cte. edition of Poe' s letters have d7emnst ated

.'~-lt ihu-Ljo, as audlca.tire (, Poe was indeed uns able,

:'i:ve-I ridden, and paranoic, he was also capable of cgr at

,i..-t tude and e.nrgy, gr-aciousness, wallantry, piety, and

,; thai he 7a not nearly so much thhe helpless victim of

:.s o(wDIn psyche, or of ?mierican :m.-rateria.;s nd democracy,

:L of a.:i.n "diabolical providence" as Baudelaire would have

hn: L -:3 believer. oUr today can we so blithely assume the

." id ty or relevance of BSudelaire' s belief in the identity

, the ar"i"t "w"ith his art; though earlier in the century

3 .!
-: ..2 -r:n:rr -r..., c.'o :-ph L.h-.'c .rv ,:'h a' .n.,- :: l:r naj re

di c.: .: os cf Frud accei:.ed and cdavelo.,d this thesis, the

Sffortl.:' of the flew,, Critics and] the insights gained in the

Le. 'is-i'.is cont ravrsy on t-he "personal fi lacy" have led

C.-'.r ,-d.:. tO h ea health' iy I:sepiticim a.out tlhis acpp -ach

[.: '..r, Fce's cr tic,: .'. 'n e reIm able .1- egiance

to i ...ire's ortra a f ': kind of 3 i2 -ca tire Poe.

c ea,:.J ita recurrent '-h irLs a*.nd i s ':sicn of Lif \' lat

. J.sll. 12W :e t .'.L:.s in Poe's art is a pictulr-. and a cac-;:n] la-

..:ion n ::cet ior. c1 a n the ir,'.or aL (,

115) : a.1!l he tortren;t ich be:al.s su.h a ,an:

n -t o:-. i...- i i .;,-. to be rat L LC.i ; absidLty cIrI Ltrollig

th.: 'r:in..; .y .: itari usirupinci chn place of ': '. .., c n c. L- -

.'1'L i: cn ,- f'.l -. p 'I. o -t.'- e l:n th'e -. ".' '3 .3 id :--he 'ind' alr' t...r.. or--

-1i'.- 22 :.2'- Of j'? L:.t th,_t .i Gc::',- s: ses .::ve: Lv a l'jgh.

. . t.h "i :l nar't '..or' d ..i c! F.;ci ats

P-'.- .. : lh .: ni hr"'"i a ae '. o ::.. '-" a .iid r, 1 .-'h:

" r. ..: i:h. '. :"i2.c '2 '.o.iL ii..s' lf int o ti ... t.cai :e

c.:t ,f 1...., .,o, lhc -:( .'-.. ...:, -n, i;to 1-,-a c'ci-,ir -f c't ,of
Io' : & I. : r.. o ...'I to ? si c.ert; ofI

S.2 ''ri:: -. .1 l.. -ii c i ac -: .r: Uht? I72r a:.d t-he f OC'C"

. : '. 17). ... :.u, :l.:"i re cL : .": 'r -.. ..* -lo :.l c' L. -' c. '
--1 .l 0. .- 11 21

i n .. ,.: .: 'T. 1 i. .- i : r. ci .2 ''l u

.t -2l :-a.o ;: ';:.i: i g '-.:. 5 :. C ;hi '-: ,: l : coa su.:.en

violent, useless mrove-ments, cri.e uttered for no reason at

all, are phenomena of the same kind" (117) as those produced

in Poe's art.

In subsequent decades, this image of Poe's literature

as a melange of perversity, horror, and suicidal masochism

has been sustained by Poe's most famous and influential

critics. For instance D. H. Lawrence5 calls Poe a "scien-

tist [rather] than an artist" (65) because Poe had only one

theme, "the dis-integration-processes of his own psyche"

(65); a true artist, on the other hand, is concerned with

both "the disintegrative vibration" and,in the formingg of

a new consciousness underneath," in the "double rhythm of

creating and destroying" (65). Poe could only "crave to

madness or death" (71) because he w-'as onc of those doomed

men who have "lost theC i integral souls" (78); in his art,

2oe wounded d the horror and the warning of his own doom"


Yvor Winters' famous attack condemns Poe's tales be-

cause they "are all studies in hysteria; they are written

.or t.he sike of the hysteria" (254) ; he dismisses Poe

bec.cise, he says, his work totally avoids "that vast and
sol;.d -_egion in which human experience is uindev'stood in

moral teams and emotion is the result of that understanding,

or is seen in relation:shiip to tihat .underst.A.nding and so

j.dgied" (255). Poe' s works are about nothing at all: he

"'devor as i'.ar am mlay be *-c escape L rom a. p raphrasable

them (257).


Allen Tate / asserts that, because .of "Foe's failur-, to

:.',, coniz himself" (14 7), his mei-al faculties of feeling,

.'ill, and intellect became hypertrophied, finally resulting

in "the- i.,tellect moving in isolation from bo':h lo'.ve and

the rrorrl ..'ill, '-hereb it declares itself indepen:lident of

tiei hlun'.. s' tuation in tle quest of essential knowledge"

(15:1). .-ut, for Tate, Poe's great contribution to modern

1 l Lt- ;. -s.'i his disco'.(ery of "our gc!-at subject, the

di' L...;.. on of personality" ( 61).

*Arlcs" Feidelson, Jr. '.1;rites that Pee's primaryy aint

tJ S : eo'-. ct on of reason, and he: takes plea--u r in the v'

*-.-,-.: !.ori..or of the task" (35) a -horrcr :.'hi Poe. one

c'..- undcr_-go becaL'se it ..'as o l th0Louh' 3n a'.-.'ful and

C.g ;. J ,13 10.53 of a's o.-..l i., e. it. y that r.w 'ision"

cc.u.'. he fLo r.d; -cid lson says t1hait oe ";Ic y lines up

c : .n2 in..ividuality. a'.d 1 i. f- on one .o .-; irr.a'.io.ialism,

i.rf. s'L o. l. ity, and c :-.h o t e c t:r' (. 2) and ider.ti fies

S.'. :-.': t:-i de~athl" (252) .

I; hi.s lc;nigthy' -t of ,.: :s a. P.'r n :ic and Idealist,

-6.'.... ] DL i:'.- :son ag e ;.'i *:.h I..'.'ence th. t 0oe n '..'.e r c :ot

beC '",''.1 1 :r. s...-. e c cth- '.:'nt ic q ''.-st, to solve th

-is L .r .o. ..i;.. J1. .I '..r..--- .10 s ': 3. a min .i v'.'e inl a min r.-] ss

u ..;.-'-;c ?" I (33 ) a quI- .: i.: h .icst 1: ....'..IdS "ai acLt of

ic' ."''on .- raunc,-i ion -. th n, :I. en y lt: n, ,/

c'.l.i ,:; .' i. -.- *i fi .rld :':-t.r.;. its being ; d ac.uua].ity Lag in"

.-r, ; :,ur Poe's mi .-.d fu; i. l- ? t.. 'f--e-.c::.- ti.m.. it '.rota

a p,.'.m or short story--by performing an act of destruction

o-, the sensible world as having any mind or reality whatso-

'.,e~'" (51), though exceptions to this pervasive obliteration

of self can be found in the ratiocinative tales, the crit-

\cjsl:, and Eureka, works in which Poe tries "to make sense

of reality and to put logic back together" (51). Otherwise,

Poe's art portrays a fictive "I" in whom "the normal rational

faculties of thinking and choice" (122) have been suspended,

and in whom "ethical and religious beliefs" are "powerless

to function"' (122), a protagonist who "never learns any-

thing" (126) because in him "there was no inner con.cious-

nc.-_s to begin with" (126).
Roy Harvey Pearce observes that "Poe is quite obvi-

d.:J;' the poet of dream-work" (141), and that in rmost of

his fiction, too, "the protagonist must bear witness to,

even .-e the agent of, the destruction of the 'real' ,-orld,

just so that a 'surreal' world, that of the hypnagogic

im:-gi:atLion, may be brought into view" (148). Further, Poe's

"driving concern" was to demonstrate the need to bring that

world into view and actually to do so, because the dream-

world, Poe came to feel, was "the only, or the ultimately,

real world" (148).

For Richard Wilbur, 1 Poe's art was created "not as

a means of giving imaginative order to earthly experience,

but as a s.tiulus to unearthly visions" (99), seeking to

"disengage the reader's mind from reality and propel it

-to'' th ideal" (i' ) to'..'ard a "realm in whichc h reason no

longer hampers th- plw.y of the imagination. the realm

of dream" (102), to'.'ard a state in which, having obliterated

the corrupt and corrupting external world" (137) with its

dcenmnds on the intellect and moral sense, the imaginat Lon is

free 'both to recall and to simulate its primal, unfallen

state" (107).

Perhaps the most extr-emne, but the inevitable, d.-velop-
ient of t'is i3eneral view is Joseph Mcsldenhaier's. -" asking

his study, like Wilbur, on Poe's cosmology withh its emphasis

o.n he tc.-kntification of Beauty ,' ith Unity) he asserts that

Po-' s artists (and a] I his onLrsonae) discover bliss only in

chair .o',.'.n deaths and in the murder of thc-e they love, that

such is their "route- to the e, Sthtic hea',hv n of death" (227),

and that, indeed, the "fulfillment of the' artitisic process is

a :0o.-.scicus death" (290). Pce's characters "bond to mrn.-dec-

c L to u1..c.d : ail the critft.sm3 insl- p of tne fine artist'

(91.) anl they are "1-r.'er eth'.icAi.l ly acc in table ,

b'ei: *..:'.-pe lled . to dcO th.?t ..'ilich is at once an out-.rage

.:u .;.--c: :::d a'.-a ion fr m life" (297). .T F..e's

".-r .- isionn of Perp.-nti cdi.s'heltLsm" (2'93), thlier is no

a[ ,-l "to T:he cCmnL':U ity of ordinary '.en, '..'ith ordinscy

,:., '..5,-' '..h c-an. rcli '..e its. "in; -ca ,e an. solipsistic

' riv cy" ;297)

'F:. 'l?2 coSensus. ThoseC 'ul.eTrs (and mai.ny oth-ers)

al1 I ,ua'.?'- lair s .fu,'d irrntal Yis n of oe's .ctr

that it is empty of moral relevance, that its characters are

hopelessly doomed, that it approvingly records the annihi-

lation of mind, that it equates art solely with death and

dreams, and that it upholds the necessity of liberating

the imagination from the chains of reason and conscience

so that it can run free, forever, in the fields of dream-

land. Though the critics usually admit that there are

other elements in Poe's art (the common example being the

ratiocinative tales), it is this demonism and destructive-

ness that they claim to be of greatest importance.13 It is

not that there is no evidence in Poe to support such a

thesis, nor that these men are merely trying to ingratiate

themselves with Baudelaire's ghost. Most of them have read

Poe sensitively and carefully (if not always sympathetically),

and have attempted to substantiate their claims through

extended analyses. But they are all saying much the same

thing. And there is more to be said.

It is a different Poe--a meditative, humane, frequently

conservative Poe who is to be described in this study. A

Poe who, while truly a dreamer, knows the dangers of dreams.

A Poe ,who understands, as do Hawthorne and Melville, the

perils of the solitary ego. A Poe who affirmed both the

pain and the bounty of earthly reality. A Poe whose central

concern wa with the formation of that "new consciousness"

which Lawrence denied of him. A Poc whose fiction portrays

the growth, not the destruction, of a Hero whose "biography"

:e shall extract from the tales. And a Poe ..hor.e entire

aesthetic and religious theory forces us to see the moral

releva'.nce o: every' deed of his Here- because nothing less

than the fate of all mankind hangs in the balance.

After establishing, in Chapter One, Poe's general :.ies.

of fict".ion and of the poetic genius, we shall describe the

'.oya'-Je :o his fictional Hero. It begins with him coming to

terms with, and mastering, those wolves of the w.:orld and of

his o'.-"; spirit which can hurtle him to an earl'. and unmarked

grrv.c. Ec en- though his '.isicn is ilti.matelv a-s-ns.l3 and V.

un':'c.idl'y (even Eastern), he mJst first grapple with the

tor'i-.::esi or mutability and sensation, sur'i'ing then and

then spe:.::'.ng their truth. Chapters T.-o and T!hree will

;ldel .'ith these first t:-.o stages of his ascej:nt--to siur-vi .al

and to p:,rsr.c..cti.'e. ioi.-e'.-cr, even after he has irounted to

his '.'.sion e (the subject of Chapter Four) he must then

reti .; rr -.n, r reconcile himself to his o-:n mortality ii a td to

thOe Ic- ) 1f, his e'.a,-sc.nt ecstasy. He must: fiuht the

Fa.s. ti. .-i ;oti t1,:: which tell.:. hir. that he an,- all. he .c'ves

,:..:n ',e ,.-s i .:..o:ta He mu.:;: ac. :pt the bi.rcle of sha. red

l.. ni;t aid fi.nd tie me-ans .inr art by .-ihich tihe effects of

hi.s i.'i; ;.-n can be felt by all rv. l Fi.\ anl] Six

. ..P.:1 y '.eS'o 1.s ,:: s L..g ,'s cf his on.":.'l.e!".e cuest--'o recon-

ci i.; 2.on ar.n to ro- tr ,y.

Put beginning:, it .should be .. 1. clear tat this

ic- ,r- is a distillati. .n of .a cr e t i.umtier of protagonists


in the individual stories. He is "created" here by taking

nearly] thiiry tales, generally without reference to sequence

of publication, and arranging them in such a way that they

become parts of one, continuous narrative. B" such a device,

I hoce to serve Poe by displaying as graphically as possible

those conflicts and resolutions with which he was concerned

thrcug;out his career and which have not yet been fully



1 Lcis and Francis E. Hysiop, Jr., eds. and trans. Baude-
laire on Poe: Critical Pacers (State College, Pa.: Bald
Eagle Pre'-s, 1952). All references in the te:-xt are
from this source.

2 dqar Allan Poe: A Critical Siography (He'.:. York: Appleton--
Century, 1941).

3 The Life and -!Works of Edgar Poe: A Psvcho-Analyvtic Tnter-
pre cation, trans., John Rcodker (London: Imago, 1949)

-1 Ed-ar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius (tle' York: Alfred A.
Knopi 1926).

5 "l.J, r All.n Poe;' in Studio. s in Classic -mr.erican Litera-
tu-.o (N'e-,: York: '.'ikinq, 1923), ')65-82. All references in t-Lhe
te;t aire from thi s s.ource.

6 *'Ed..r -Al.lan Poe: A Crisis in tAe ihistor: of American 'o-
.s uL'3i'iLti.n," in In Defr!..3 of Feason (l e'..' Yc k: The S..'iallo'.
Fr'e-s, 1 7), 2 3-61. All references in .th tcx::t .-re 7rom
ti1s so'.r.":e.

7 "iThe- .- "!ceI Ic 1 aoilation," 'en-'. on Re'.vi e.' XI.V (Suimner,
1952), I'.;-75.

. :'. ol .. i an,1 '* r i'c an LIter t ture (Chic ,ao: Ur.i" rs I'/ of
ChI PC..'. Press, 1.953), 35- 12. All references ini the te : are
i 1. Cih so.irc. .

9 -.. .-.: A C..C: ica l Study (Carbriidoe: Eiar''aod Uni..:rsi ty P.ress,
1957). 1 refrc- ences In thle text are from this .:ourci.

-; "vo,-' ,:',' n 71e C.) r ir.ui.t'.' o-f Amerl ij an Pc-.tr1' (Crincetcn:
P' i:-c':o la. :.r itty Press, 1961), 1L1-53. Al. references in
the tcxc ,te from this source.

).i- "'te ..use of Poe;.' i. Po : A Collection c-f Critic'aL LEs says
'3. o'. r::- Re ija ('nal .ood Cli ffc: f'zO : ico--Hali '1 6 7),

I'63), 2 4-. 7. All]]. ]-,.:rf' nc.s i. th, t. ;t are :.'rm th Ls
':':". 1 *-"1 *': .


13 There are, of course, some exceptions to this view, al-
though most of them are not as widely known or as influ-
ential as they should be. Among them are: William Carlos
Williams, "Edgar Allan Poe," in In the American Grain (New
York: New Directions, 1933), 216-23; Herbert Marshal McLuhan,
"Edgar Poe's Tradition," Sewanee Review LII (Winter, 1944),
24-33; Robert E. Spiller, "The Artist in America: Poe,
Hawthorne," in The Cycle of American Literature (New York:
New American Library, 1955), 61-66; A. H. Quinn, Life, passim;
James Gargano, "The Question of Poe's Narrators," College
English XXV (December, 1963), 177-81; and Robert Jacobs,
Poe: Journalist and Critic (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1969). My debt to this last book will be
borne out on every page of this study.



,;ti .. Edgar Poe '.-.anted ini a pao:em is quite clear: a

brief, .i.tent e s .vision of [deal Deau-cv. a visionn purified

of mcror:'-i maxims, history, passion, perso',ali t', and un-

transmuted sense ilmaes; a '.'isilI which h w'.i.ld at clest

approximactely :ifect the r.ead-r ais the oLriinal]. visionn had

affected tie :,-,t; and, if su c?_ssful, ltis [-eti'-: -.i io

would whet tihe reaer's irnite thlirst or that Peauty

which can at only ;e qeinched i -o i-'ulti,.te dim

Thel.: . Ou.t of S ..CC- --o l o Tf TI;IE."

Poe's cl arst t tmt t nt of rl-,,fs_ bsic.l--v Fla.tcnic
princip-le .- ;.s found iin his f i'.-.uLs 1838 rc'.'-'.i : of iong-

fe.llow's I -.Ia..,s. TV .;: :, ,:e assertss that poetryi r.3po.nds

"to a -nat n 1 a.ind i crep:re s i' demand" in o- y a., Iis

"t-.hirst fr :su:e; :-l 3L'-.-.UT; i---a bl'au- t, .hliich i ac,,i:t aff'..r;oed

the soul '' .any e::istin': clloc.:tion <... ear .:'S fori.- 2."

Lyric poe' -cv ally hi. un'.I- rsal d s i.r ir,.:re: pecificall

and comp .- 1..' i -a;n any oth-:' a t form (p:*. r i r; l..s L 1i:. e

power of ...Lc-h 't co. t, o'f poe ry) '2nd e M n ',e

than any cth r f:c"m ... Lc. I:.._*:e, Ibeca'use it ovpe-ala 1 otE!y

to the 2' ;.: -i..1 o':e i" ..l .'-.C : :,--a 'c t-c t': r. spo t o0

thosI- es :-ntial .:u..'-:;t.s of the .-... "f l-- -" : .i -s.:., har--

mony-, ai', pro .:rt on'" '-iar is Dn, X, 71).

Ho*.''.'-, contrary to '.'hat a number of Poe's critics

have assumed (especially Wilbur and Moldenhauer), his view

o-f poetry was not identical with his conception of the

value, techniques, or the proper realm of fiction. In his

famous review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales, he describes

fiction (both novels and short stories) as being, first,

inferior to poetry in its inability to appeal solely to the

Taste, to our thirst for eternal Beauty: "The author who

aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is laboring

at a great disadvantage. For Beauty can be better treated

in the poem" (Harrison, XI, 109). Nor could prose be as

"hy'pnagogic" as poetry because, by definition, it lacked

rhythm, and rhythm was "indispensable because of its effect

i. detaching the senses from external reality and making

the mind receptive to emotional stimuli" (Jacobs, 317).

S.i. what fiction can do is evoke and portray a far greater

;.r:n;o of effects than poetry; it can express "a vast variety

Li modes or inflections of thought and expression"; it can,

for instance, deal with "terror, or passion, or horror" as

a oer. neCver should; its tone can be "ratiocinative," or

"sarcastic," or "h-umorous"; and, again contrary to poetry's

depiction of Beauty, "the aim of the tale" is Truth, and in V

particular the truth of character and mind. Thus, Poe con-

cludes, "i:he field of this species of composition, if not

i so elevated a region on the mountain of Mind, is a table-

land of far vaster extent than the domain of the mere poem"

(Harrison, XI, 109).

in hi e :iaustiv.e study of th; de-.'.elpment of Poe's Lheories, Robert Jacobs describes e:,:actly ;.hat Poe

hopi-d to find in a work of fiction:

Poe .,wanted to be immersed in thou'-jt i and fc-eling
w.-he. hie read fiction, to e:;:.-ertence the r mental
and emotional life of the cha rct'.:-5 and of the
.utlhur. Tlhe, sympathetic inma.ination of the
reale:- w-'ould be unaffected by a narrative Lthat
r:;rely' told .;:hat happe:-ned. Poe -.-.',nited a novel
to be heavy ily subjective, and apparcntl it did
,.ot' matter too much whether the subjectivity
proceeded f-om the character or dij.ect!l from
the author. The pleasure deri'.-ad from any kind
of art, Poe always insisted, ,.,'as in direct ratio
to its effect. "Bald," ..aked," and "barren"
-...ere the terms he applied to a narrati'e that
did oit reverberate with en-.otional and intellec- /'
tual oe .eitones. (Jacobs, 271)

:lnd Jacobs concludes that what Poe wantedd .*.as v-.-id.e-nce that

;:-. '.*.riter was totally engaged with his su':bjecti, envDtionally

and inte lectually."

The i-:e are other jfacets to P.-e's aei.the: ic of fiction

(e;a-,cially tho : '..'h ich deal '.ifth plot unity, '.-erisiLmilit ude,

and tiOe a-daptaticr: of a character -.o his fictional en.:iron-

m-nt), Lu thi.s is enough to dc.rr.instrate that, for Po!., orcse

i-c':.i,-. '..orked or d-if ferent levels than .- ec"y, tirou ,h

d .'U-:.:-nt l.'...s, a;d -;re.-..ted different efi.f:-tc s on its rcu dairs.

s,,hou,- n:ot e.,.,ect f r:om .-- s to :' '.,.at '..:e fi d in poetry.

W.'aI.t -,e .-',culd .sk of fiction is that it affect Ls through

/ te n- ,c.L L.-i-.=.yal. ,of pa;s:,ion and subjectivity, ':he .el.y Jthings

-:'- ..oisL be o t.rli.i at from. pcet v-v. *FL.-tion mu t i" 1.. -.4

.,'ac ,:, ,-- O J.i,' a,7t ion- -.:-" r.a not, ike 0 2 oem, try

:,. a, >. .iLv n ,]'C ".-i.t ... L -r. ?c? v.'ot. Lh- kind of tc.L'v that

h. "-.. rth.) .: t' ca. j.') *t as he '..'rote o:,enr ,

V.'1-:icr. i.-'i" Lc-'a .11 r-fl:..c>cd I .s t:corv. c.f ,:. '. ' I

c;fa'' from his fiction is the depiction of the growth of a

eniui, ;a poet, as he struggles through the traps set both

I.",' lis own te;..;.- rament and by the hostile environment around

hi;. His enemies are sloth, fear, pride, and the soft yield-

i.-:g o dreams and death. He is also besieged by his inability

.; I::. -ceive or relate to any form of reality outside his own, and by his permitting himself to become enslaved and

.''':by to give up his integrity and original vision. Often

ha i:ccurmbs to these evils; he cannot see properly or he

c: ir.::t judge correctly or he cannot will himself to act

of -Ectively. Yet finally he does begin to get sone measure

o l ct-rol over. himPself ai'.f d then his world and then his

l?.t:;il powers cE intuAition, until he finally emerges free

.:-:d riuimphant as the oracular voice of Eureka and as the

i, ..iscape architects, Ellison and Landor.

Before turning to this Hero, this genius, it would be

..l9.-:ble to see what Poe had to say aboul "original Genius"

.: Li.s critical essays and the Marginalia, And he said a deal. Indeed there is no other si-ibject to which he

-;o often n returned as Lhis--the goals and glories of that

.r-.- 9 and gifted being, the man of poetic guenius--as well as

.1. '.'~'- gcr that befall him and the necessity for mankind

thi.t he conquer them.

*:'-er and o'.,.r again, Poe rakas clear that trL L. C '?rati_.

aenias ar.i.sEs, beyor.n al else, from an intense, e.cuisite

" sucep ibili to i: ;'es' ions of beauty" and a co r.oic)an c

"s en3 it i'.'eness and a c-. ion to.' or rity" (H-, rriso XVI,

121). The artist must fully po'e "The sen time nt of the

b aut i ful--th atL di'vi'ner si:.:ch . ich speaks of

God tLi. o;ih :. L r. :e t, ifJ not his jol at tribute--:'hich, and 'L h .o e pro'.'es his e:-:i c (Ha Lrison ,

: ,. 2 5) 'Fol.l '..-v *' h oi lhtcer:.nth-cen Ltuiry it:..?:-- r.ology, Poe

c-.i< tr hi.s3 sensitt. ;tI-.y to beauty Ta.: Le. Of all the gifts

of :he v:.',et, thiis is the most essential He father main.-

t'-i ns t.t this po:'..e ': otL by itse].f C' ici.en t to miake ,

,, .0 f ;:.u. .'r/' ,: ; i S t Vr.a ,: he also .*,i- is ;. -. .'.',.I '.. .{,t i.o l, ..'h ..h ,
<:::: ?..... .. . L..S:. lthe- ,jr,,,m nta-. poh-: cr ofl c.t .i..:.: >7.., re-c-t i ..'Ging

..d :1 Ji .:.' rg the d ata pro'.'i.ded by the s. n s only

I *I r C
.-ho., i-".,:. ,: .i-ich bo ..t indicate or s-'T^. i ;s" :::e e ifect o][

I--'.? :.?'-*- 'r : '.''J si ,r.: 'Th" r-,.,.Le Im.:na in, tion cho,, :.d s o,"ly the

r(. .,.' ':.'Inr:hht!,o'. '.c,,.. r ned . . "-.' o0 c

o .. :)R..i ... t fabo ri cates th:: 'a,.uL\ :.'ilic' is ,.;: o e

..: :.. c- ,-jcct and its inc'.i cabl. cost" Ha ri._ on, :-V ,

.-, ) I. tLr.:-.;' lv. PC-. .c. -..i 'to *. .-'.- .gn t'..e p '.:.'. 'r o f !,..sci--

.. ion '-.. ri., i:-ai]-.'. 3, .'j..:I'. rn,:. i : "'th :. .,'.. r is :st c q Et f'.Ill

i. :.;.' 1t- !r..I [Ii n'- ,y c f ct ; ": ca'c :.i.t ."' ...: nd t:hus '.-.ork.

'.t *ia d j.late it a : .i i" :'.-. ri c.,, .'./[, .':.3).

Thi:.- a t-:, ifts the L .'C..:'- ,.: ".-.. ; i :.-".n :tion, of

; .. c.:. '. i.'. 1 tt. to eaut- and L.: t ':. :':, .t a.-i ;- :-: c::o.

, 1 :o.-.'ers of genius. But a man -o gif ed still

..'ii. not be- biblee to create art unless he cori.a:3ds something

else: in addition to sensitivity .and analysis, which in

eigihteenth--century terminolo-gy are basic lly i.ntel lectual

facul.ties, a poet also needs to develop his , faculties.

Poe for "that mental and moral combination :-.'hich

:nhaIl ur:ite in one person . the Shelleyan abandon [Taste]

-:nid tel T.cnnysonian poetic sense imaginationn] and the stern-

e.:; i lil. rrcl.oerly to blend and rigorously `o control all

.: t.-P, :.' 143-50). The sternest -Ji 11: rrore than

,;:. ,c,.-.:i,- .j.ft or acqui-r rent, e'.'en more than Taste or- Imag-

!. j...n, :i aLtainmin nt of po.-.'eriful wi l '.S.'as for Poe the

c;: L ..C:.ilis te for the filc..'eri:g of tull geni .s. Only

the man ,wo forced himself to his task could bring it off:

the "artist and the man of some artistic ability must not be

confouInd-.d. He only is the former who can carry his most

rsh dowy pr(ecep-:s into successful application" (Harrison,

KVI, 65). The critics of art as well as its creators possess

censi.tiv:i':y to Beauty as well as the "faculty of analysis";

but th- difference between them lies in their character,

because a "great deal depends also upon properties strictly

moral---f o.' example, upon patience, upon concentrativeness,

or the power of holding the at-ention steadily to the one

purpose, upon self-dependence . in especial, upon reer'gy

or industry" (Harrison, XVI, 66--7).

But the will must do more than merely defeat the natural

.lssitude of genius: it must also triumph over the very

Lempen:r, er.i: and disposition .wh.ich seems ::o ac-

cDLmpany it. It is chis demon :w-:ithin him .-.hich tempts the

artist to soar away from the material, substantial universe

forever into the ethereal realm of the beautifu-il--and the

dead; toe warns the artist not to embark on -such a one-way

v.oyaga.. "the Imagination of ';:-n is no Carathis, to c::plore

with inL:,Lity its every cavern. Alas! the orimn region of

e[ terrors . must sleep, or they ;will devour

us--th.ey must be suffered to slumnber, or .'ej perish" (larri-

son, :.VI, 167). it is the ,''ill of the poet which must keep

him i r-)m sliding inescapably into the chasm of mystical

vision; it mLust force a balance between this inborn tendency

a id the e-qiuallv essential acceptance of human ruLabi. li ty.

:0L must go dc:,.'ni--but he nust also re-surface; do';n into

chqnRgeless and glo.'ii.g Beauty, but up &again to the .mortal

.and .ii T -fect earth. He must go out but cnly. t. cure b, ac-k.

And he can. return onlv, if his po'.-ers of re zon and r-,

insijhI-. .re in harmony and- are balanced '.-.*.th his c:-...':r.-: of

t-l';.'. and i maginr tion. Poe '.*-rote,

ifichest genius is but 3he result of ; Inc_-al]y
lrqe men't-a powe-r a:is ting in a L a tc of ab .colute
or7.)orLtion---s o that no one facu I 0.' has undue pre-
dor1, iance. T'nat fa. :- i ious "c nius"'3 . 'hic'
is buIt the mnil ':fes tat io.n of t'..e aLunonral predomi-
nance of some or::a L.aciilt o'.:or all the mothers
[i .e., Ta t -. r r,,i..r..]---is .r--sul.t of mental
disease or rat ir, ot ortJnic mialfoimaion of
n i . . T'h cc"]: s f such ,:c.iii:-s ac-e never
s.'ur:d in t e .-:os and, in .-e peci...l, .al'.:ys be-
Lc,-a the gj e l :,- n al i!-,csa itty. (iiarr i'F on, ::IV,
1 /li-73)

(7:k;d, he late- reminds us, 'Pura Diabolism is but ;Absolute

:Inan-it'y"--Harrison, XVI, 160).

In i.ddition to the temperament peculiar to him as an

artist, the genius c,ni also be dc-stroyed by bis anomalous,

lo-ely role .in a society which he at once needs and despises.

Thus he is 'orn "between ambition [for worldly success] and

the scorn of it," and these "inequalities of mood are stamped

upon" his art, and destroy it. But again his will can res-

z>e him and his w'.ork by forcing him to attend to his ultimate

end: "uive to genius a sufficiently enduring motive, and the

result will be harmony, proportion, beauty, perfection--all,

in this case, synonymous terms" (Harrison, XVI, 121).

Thus the will plays a pivotal role in Poe's conception

of genius, far more than it did even for Hazlitt and

Coleridge (Jacobs, 121). The art work must evince harmony,

repose, and formal order. That being the case, it can only

be created by an artistic mind which has willed its way to

this same, ultimately moral condition. In a startling

cameo in the Marginalia, Poe describes the entire circle of

the artist's voyage out and back, fusing all his beliefs

about the dynamics of artistic genius into a single passage.

He begins with a re-affirmation of his faith in the power

of language: "I do not believe that any thought, properly

-o called, is out of the reach of language," providing, that

is, that the thinker possesses enough "deliberateness" and

"mLethod" to enable him to express his conception; here again,

as has so often in other essays, he emphasizes the abso-

lute need both for control of the artist's mind by the will

("del.berat ion") and for the control of his materials

("method"). But then Poe goes further. He confesses that

he has experienced what he calls "psychal faLncies" (as

distinct from thought which springs from the rational intel-

lec) T..'o conditions always e::ist before he feels the

fcoce of these fancies: first, they arisee in the soul

(al.s, hoiw rarely') only at the epochs of most intense

trarquiiitL.--when the bodily and mental health are in per-

foetio.," ..;hen, in other w..ords, he is at peace .wi.thin him-

self, his faculties calm and balanced between his reason

and feel.ings, enslaved b'y i'eit her, controlling and th us

eni jo'ing thenm both. Secondly, these psychic impressions

spring ficrth only at "those- mere points of tim where [sic]

the conrfi.nes of to'.e ..':.4- l;g world blend i th those of the

:-.orl.d of crearms," in the h'n.,;ogic' lhalf-world. But, not

c ly n.iust. !- be afloat ir. this brief and strange condition;

he ru-i t also be- awa-re of his lbing there: ;he fancies arise

"onp.y '.,'hen i aim upon the very brink of sleep, with the con-

sc .iusncss that I ..u so" (r: italics). Ev.e in ihis world

of .. sion, the d -.mihe. mu-t be act least enou,.gh in control so

s to b abl to ab to ::ognize -:nd ..sserit to his skiiuming out to

th.e ..sty mitd-regions of the mind.

Onc.e out there (o in there. -3 the case- may be), Poe,

S,.:. L-ier L...-.-"' an un-worl'idly, e .'en an un--rn.-:ani like, ecs Lasy,

though he feels such a-..e to'...ard ,hAat he sees that his joy

is somewhat moderated and tranquilized. 'What he experiences

is not Coleridgeaj truth but instead an intense delight

which is marked by "tne absoluteness of novel c''"--in it,

"there is really nothing even in character to

impressions ordinarily received. It is as if the five

sec-ses \w;re supplanted by five myriad others alien to ror-

tality." This ecstatic delight "is of a character supernal

to the Humian i lature--is a glimpse of the spirit's outer

.orld. . ."

Thus the '.'oyage out. And it has been this asoaect of

the ari-istl's jourr: ey whichh Baudelaire, La'..'rence, Tacte,

.ilb,,-r, i.ole,>,nhaue:, and so many of the other rea-dcrs of

Poez ha'.-c: empihas i zed--this do'.:.'inw.ard sw-oon in to the ;hhagogic

hal f-.-.o cl of reverie and c.ath, into the a-sensual and

:-anr..'.el,-.s.3 re-ilm of Droim-Land and El Dorado and ;:'.e kring-

in biy, the sea--?s:i--rl in the ghost world d of the "angelic

i L.g,;.~tic,-"--enthral.led by the "dis integratj.on processes

o" his c.r. psychee" But Poe does not stop ere, even if

r.i-n'y of his critics do. The passage continues. He .; cos on

to sc; ti'.m: ":-.0 e.I:.ire is my f-it':h in the ro.-er of -rds,

that, at times, I have believed it possible to embody even

the evanescence" of these ethereal visions:

In experiments with this end in view, I have pro-
ceeded so far as, first, to control (when the
bodily and mental health are good) the existence
of the condition:--that is to say, I can now
(unless when ill) be sure that t.he condition will

s".,'e-nr, if I so ;:tsh it, at the point of ti.:'
a n..v ,-SleSciibed: of its s.upe rvet tion, until
late ly, I coull ne,'er be certain, even under the
nmost favorable of ci rc:um:stances. I meant to say,
merely', that now I can be sure, '.when .l c ircunm-
stances are1 favorable, of the su:,pereention of the
condition, and feel even the capacity o-4f inducing
o- compelling it:--the favorable circumstances,
ho'w.'ever, are not the less rare--.else 'ad I com-
ielled, already, the He;i.,e into the Earth.
I have proceeded so far, secondly, as to pre-
v-:-t d-le lapse from the point o'f .:ihich I speck--
the point of blending between w:akf:-:l ness and
sleep--as to prev.entt at will, I lay, the lapse
from this borde,-r-ground into the dominion of
sleep. [lot that I can continue the condition--
not that I can .ender the poin_ m-ore than a
but that I can startle myself frcm the point iito
.wa.':e.fulness s-- tnd thus transfer the point itself
into the realm of I iemory- --con vey i.ts imT.':-::csi.c.n.s,
or more properly their recollections, to a situation
where (although still for .- very brief period) I
can sui .'ey them with tle eye of analysis. (iHrtrison,
.M.'' ;7-3 ) .

Conc iol supnrvene, inducing, comp elling, [,rc'. nt the lapse

into s;leo-p, trans fea the impression to me-lory, sure y it

through analysis: these .and phr:-ass tell the st,5y.

'nJ t the .at.or the' tell is thai of an active'.' pol:.erful, con-

t.rcl ed artistic '..ill, of a consciousness that thou-gh mysti-

cal ard visionary, does not (indeed, mus: n'ot) aillcw.' itself

to y ield 6 :cte-rl to the lov'.ely 'nchant.,nc.n glimpseed i.n its

_ Lry. eHis willl must- be operati .ve, insuLrJi n the balan ce of

all hi's faculties ever. before the revery is possible; and

it must stay in control even in the midst of his dr=,ai; if he

is ever o'- escape thralldom to it, keep it in his :dieory,

and then shape it into art.

ihat ,?e is i-,.':lying here and in the' other pa.sages we

have iis3pectcd is that before the artist can realize an' of

h.Lz po- as genius, he must first realize his potential

,s a .!n.. For, Poe says, "Poetic genius, in its supreme

.'de .:..'pmt.iiit, bodiess all orders of intellectual capacity", XVI, 162), by which he means more than just the

r;--.. oning capacities. He also affirms that the operative

.iLt.': for rmnhood is courage, which in its various attri-

butes is forti,,:-ude, integrity, patience, and, ultimately,

freedom, And all courage is the "mental energy which over-

comes fear . [and] is, of course, simply 'moral'"

(Harrison, XVI, 162). The agony he must suffer in the strug-

gle against the blind, compulsive and destructive elements

in his own disposition is the price of his eventual victory--

a victory which will culminate not only in great art but

al:o i'; a great man,---the greatest of men: for the "highest

genius is buot the loftiest moral nobility" (Harrison, XVI,


Finally, the personal triumph of each artist is abso-

lutely n ecessary if mankind eventually is to have its own

triumph. In the long run, despite Poe's bitter misgivings

about the squalid moral condition of mankind in the past

and present, he envisioned the destiny of humankind as ulti-

rmate-1.y gl.orious. '.an's "natural state," he said, does not

lie in his savage and brutal history and origins, but rather

in his future--if only he makes full and continual use of

his natural and idiosyncratic human gift, his mind: when

"rea son has exhaust .- :*. itself f for his imj-rcvement., then will


mnTr attain to "the highest pinnacle of ci'.ilization"--and

Ch-at is his true and natural state, not the swamp from '.which

lhe sprang (Harrison, ..'I, -7)

'nd just as the journey of the artist is long and tor-

iuous, ifa best full of risks, so too is the slot; ascent of

mankind. For neither the artist nor all mankind is the

final triumph a sure thing. The outcome '.'ill be determined

:'y' ..lither the creati'.e geniui es fulfill their sal'.'ivic

i sstion. At the present moment in time, only they ha'.-e the

capacity to see and respond to the Leantii'y of universal de-

sign and to feel the ecstatic delight which i.nariably fol-

lo..:s such. contemplation. .And only the genius has .he '.;ill

:-nd courage to communi'c through his art the effect of his

v.isionl to the millions wIho othec.,ise could not -'.per.tece

it at all. And, if thev are to be 3a'.-ed, the' mst e:-:peri-

e:-,e iit. Wiit ,iou.t the of God's e::istenca, they

v.;i. :-'.'.er. kno'..' that there is a design and purpose i.n the Gu od, for Poe, could only be kn:-c..'n to us as

E-.ut'.y, .~'ich i. -:.ppr.: ended '-lr-ou-jh the taculll y t f Taste.

S'.-.te ,I; ":.,at di-'i-ie sixth sense . that sense which

r.-a.k'. : of 'od tlhrou'I g hi:s pur ast, if not.r '.' s oli aItttibutc--

v.ihi h pl -:'.cs, and w..'.Lich alone pro-'es his e::is teici (Ha-rrison,

r, 253-G5) .

But this faculty, like all of nan's oo.'rs, ;s still

'.ol. ving c. r, fe..' can :.ii ectly :-:poriei c- cla- e- ut.y

?-1 Lth"'S thi of cd. Therefore the cAly .'way that

imosi- men catch even a glimmer of that universal design

..hi.:h j.s God's life is through the artist's communication

in his poetry or music or painting of what he had felt in

his v.isionary ecstasy. Art, for Poe, "is formative in that

it_ reinfo-,:ces our sense of the harmonious" (Jacobs, 313),

and thereby slakes man's innate thirst for Beauty--making

him anxious and ready to feel even greater joy in its pres-

ence. By its opening of man's vision to the symmetry, har-

mony, and balanced design of the Divine universe, art can

enable man to see his true role "as a denizen of the uni-

verse" not a mere creature of earth (Harrison, XVI, 167).

Thus man can apprehend the cosmos and God only through

the Beauty which is experienced through our inborn and

reliable sense of proportion and harmony. "Man," Poe writes,

"cannot long or widely err, if he suffers himself to be

guided by his poetical, which I have maintained to be his

truthful, in being his symmetrical, instinct" (Harrison,

XVI, 302). But, as we have also seen, in this moment of

man's evolution there are very few of us who have the sen-

sitivity and strength to make full use of this power. For

one thing, it is too immensely difficult for potential

artists to free themselves from the temptations which natu-

rally accrue to them. The hostility, skepticism, and con-

ventionality of the masses of men are more often than not

other formidable obstacles, especially in America, "Is it,

or is it not. f fact," Poe rhetorically asks, "that the air

.f D- 'i:.'1Cicy agrees better: '"-h mere- talent than --:ith

C::i.J ?" (l-. -rison, XVI, 152). .-'nd it should not su;

us: th t :a .,.-: "'Ifted, or rath-er accursed, '-.'ith an intel-

le'ct '.'c r:- f superior to that of his race," or '.:ith a

"'.very e.; ?.r:)u's spirit," :.-ould be considered by his society

as- r..a'd -nid lost: to find records of such mien, '..:e should

i.;-.c;re official biographies of the .-.orld's ureat .men and

ins3l.,. eachah carefully the slight r-ecords of '.-rre these .:ho

d:ed in pri -on, in Bedlam, or uoion the gal]o:.'s" garrison ,

:.'I, 1 .6 )

in th;i ap7ocalyptic "Colloquy of :-.;lonos and Una,"

sAoU'..:' L '.'1 -hat '..aould hap.penr if man did not receive and accept

the '.iAi-: ns of the artist. In this parable, L..'o dead :-;out

*.-: : .w :i;b "a n-.'.- general coiLndition at this poc ": in his

pj :.l.' oft pure Peason, 'h-i icl led to .--cience, to

a I. ri e-t-r tLizing, and to ignorance o:f the "la.:-.s of

. ::..- ':" nd rl rce "an,.-r- e'.'alent. fCriocracy' I..d]

.i .s-: .:..: hil, sel and his planet.

'. i -.'A e'.'il spr .1ana n.c s -'.sari -il y .rommT the- c.:.dinc. -" an cc'. ld not b .th no.,' and
as :c :,. iiea :-... i I ue 3hu [:, fln in C ci S -;rose,
Sr.... Green leav.'es shrank b,- ,or cthe hot
*:J... J .. I mrnac, s The f ir face ;' .- Lre ''--sS
.fCo jr : 2-: '.'ith th, ra.-vac:es of :o,.." lo:i -isoIl.Re
]..*t a;-. l

-...0. .e .n i th l .i k.3 -'..' -t i.D1a t'.-.n ( w..r silum-
: :ingq : en s-e o che forced and of the r-fetched
Irai. h: -:.'.- .. :t-ested us here. But no'.- : ap p -ars
:L.A'c V' :: 'v.-.orked out our own dc.-:truct Loni i the
.:.'",-.' o f o .ur taste, or rather i:n t' blind
-Sec .'., 1: ;. -- culture in the schools For, in
-utL'., i i. this crisis that ta-te : w.:i e--
l- i.t: hich, holding a middle .:.e p" ) i
:_-::.:::. -:. :- pure- intellect and the .':;r-i 2lsr e,
SciL:d a.-: jsa'fely have been disregar:'.d- -i' .:as
::c.:'. th t t;ste alone could ha'e led g',-ntly .
.o .,k-iJuL.\', to iatu:irn, and tc.: L.fe. (1, 360)

l:-he f-ct that this passage is so didactic and extreme only

sl.;'vos to bring into greater relief Poe's position on the

cabsol.ute necessity that works of genius redeem and purify

Lhoe world d--and enable man to be "born again" (I, 361).

Poe un tiimately sees the artist not only in the priestly

fujr,-ct-ion of "mediator" between man and God (this being the

onl.y function that Jacobs believes him to have), but as a

prophet and savior: a man gifted by God with rare powers

and duties, especially those of seeing and feeling the ma-

jescy of his Creator in a way that up to the present has not

been available to other men, and of communicating what he

has seen and what it felt like to see. He can quicken in

other men their sensitivity to Beauty and thereby lead them

to understand their function and place in the universe--and

.:-ad then to see that they too partake of the unfolding

:ajesty of God. Without the poet-seer, man will fail of

SL;3 destiny and destroy himself and his planet. If through

cowardice or sloth the artist fails to fulfill his destiny,

he will drrag mankind down with him into flames and chaos.

Ii.i ag-onj.zed ascent toward self-mastery and balance is at

cce Tbleatiac of the ascent of manakind--and the prelude

and prerequisite for it. And atmidst the sqcualor of contem-

paraocy life, only the c;-iu-:s see :ian' destined place

amIong ;:-he stars. F!cr it "is only the phil.c.;phical lynxeye

abat, t hrou .'h the indigo ni Ly-mist cf M1an's .ife, can still

diC.cer.. th dic.gnity o- m .. -" (Harrison, XVZ, 161) --and his

ogory, his strength, and his destiny.

;hat I Ct- -cos then, is ;:hat '..'hile most of Poe's

verse represents hs his attempt at evoking directly the 'effects

of supernal vision, his tales depict instead the artist's

struggle to ready himself to receive and conLi',nicaLe that

vision. ;ie is showing us ho.; the voice of "The City in the

Sea," "El Dorado" and Eureka caine to be, ho:-.' he bloomed

in o a m-r and then into an artist capable of lifting and

redeeming hIis f.lo men.

AL this point it might be helpful if '.'e briefly examine

c-ie of Poe's .stories v'hiclh, in its overall structure and

hemes, is p.aradigrm*atic of the entire voyage on which I see

Poe's HeLo ei.ibarked. Though the tone of "The Unparalleled

..d'.ventures 3f C(ie Hans PFfall" is farcical and satiric, it:

inscribe.; an artist's long and arduous J.iu-rney out and

.n'-';ay frc- t.he nori-ial. borders of human experience, followed

bl' a return to his society.

Iis h-..a is a mock-iPrometheus w.*hose profess i.n is bIel-

-... --rn.cnder is :scu-r.ed 1v a citizenry fasc:.natead by the

ch'I ri.L les of re-.'o l.uti.:;,aries a.r.d progress ivists (Pfa..ll's

.-Ali..atiori here alsc confronts the artist in such tales ;,S

"L .:ni.i ," ,"Co Ill-:ruy of ;:nos and Una," and "lHop Frogj").

i.e. r o_' ::ad nd u ,,:aiiced, he first thinks of : 1u.icid7.. But

e is save.' fr n th'is f:i2e when he oecc'.ies fsci:-nated Ly a

",.. I." and .. .i t. redti se on specu;l-tive s e' tLO ory .;lhic s a c st i.mul at .. h_ i i. .it.icn in a 7c..aeC U .':dan-

vr:.r. ins rod rI. I.,:. cut a way to fly to the

mocn (and in so doing, in conquering despair, rising to

intuitive vi-ions, and then impleiennting those visions, he

follows the ;sme path Poe's Hero must go if he is to suc-

ceed). Pfaall's actual flight is filled with terrors, both

real and imagined, which h he must quell if he is to calmly

reason his way ou.t of danger. For instance, .nearing the

imo.on he ga,:a: excitedly down on its surface:

Fancy rev'elled in the .wild and dreamy regions of
the moon. Imagination, feeling herself for once
u-shackled, roamed at w..'ill among the eve r-changing
. Th.en;i again I journeyed [by fancy] into another
coulntL where it all one dim and .'ague lake,
.*:ith a boundary line of clouds. -And out of this
melancholy '.;ater arose a forest of tall eastern
Lr.:es, like a ' derness of dreams. "And I have
i:-. ,lind tha-t tihe shadows of the trees :w'h ich fell
.upon the lake re' a.ined not on the surface '.here
the'y fell, but sunk slowly and stead: il o..n . .
iut- fancies s-ich as these .:ere not the sole pos-
sessors of my brain. lihorors of a nature lost
stern aldl appalling *.'CulIdC too fre-.linently obtrude
theiselves upon m. mind, and sh-ike the iin~rr.ost
-.:]Fp is of ry soul .. 'Yet I ..'ould not s::iffer
my thoughts for any length of time to d',,ell upon
these latter speculations, rightly judging the real
and palpable dangers of the voyage sufficient for
my undivided attention. (T, 182)

The ro-mantic and melancholy dreamiiness of this passage is a

lightv-year away from the farce and foolishness of the rest

of the story, almost as if, in the midst of creating all the

nonsense, Poe here allowed his own passions and visions to

take over and lead him to what is the loveliest of all his

evocations of death seen in terms of a dissolution into

Nature (of., "Morella" and "Island of the Fay"). It is also

important to note that Pfaall comes out of this uncontrolled,

ir.:.;inati'-.- rever;y in o'der to face the real. dangers of his

trip '-- ..'hich ?cjaIn .reflects Poe's life-long belief in the

need for rea-ion an.d will uo check unbridled fancy if the

;Hero: is inot to fall prey to "the grim legions of sepulchral

te rror" (Harrison, XVI, 167).

Pfaall must also fight his way through to a s'-ate Erom

v.-hich he can accurately observe e::ternal phenomena. Once,

he is brief l frightened bly an apparent increase in the size

of the ea.-th. But "reflection came to my relief," calirs his

fear and allo'..:s3 him to regard the sight "in its proper point

of '.'ie'-.." Wle sh.l see such a task, of finding an adequate

,:, isoect.-t'.e, crucial for the Hero's success--but often made
unr-.i. able due to drugs, drink, fe-a, madness, or super-

sti-ic.n ('.g., "..he Sphin:.:," and The Fall of the iHoue of

Usher") .

Pfaill finally lands on the lunar surface, which is a

p:arodic eqiC'.'aleint of such une..arthly goals ,is the flaunted

Po]. (";.:. Found in a Bottle," .-rth r .ordon Pym) P rdise,

C.-. king.dom.i by the sea, Dreai-Land, _aid 1the entire universe

in Eureka. He finds tr.-a a mock-Platonic race of ugly,

ite.'py '..who have an "incc'r.-prehensible connection" with

t'.e ci t i ze;s of earth 0Vcd '.hose li'.'es and destin-i s are

:lt. -..t (..c-.:, 'j-L L.'b hose .,f eatthlings--echoing Poe 's p-reoccut a- /

tior D .I.i i dot%.) le twins, and mirrors (e.g. "Iilliam

.*il.V.", ":',:.:"uLi.a") -and '.ith thW idea of spiritual cc'nter-
S.. t .. d.eni zens* . 0 d2 5 z e nt .
i. r Cr. j. z e n .

lic:., ha'"ing fused all of his internal po..ers in a har-

mon. enforced by the .,ill, Pfaall has achieved the artist's

Jestined consiuirmation in a .vis..on free of the c::igenlcies

and of earth. But he is not yet through. For he

is eag2r, as Poe's Hero must be, to dispatch w'.ord of all he

has seen and felt. He pines "for a return to my family and

my horme," ready to retu-rn with news of his cosmic adventure

to this .,ocrld (a task which Pfaall, fearing the wrath of

his ungrate'ful to'.-.nsmen, can only accomplish by sending

Jo.-.n a messenger to them with a letter).

"Hans Pfaall" is hardly recop-_ended for its o'..n intrin-

sic ,ierit. But, interestingly enough for a story '..'hich

carce so ei.i:ly in Poe's career, it contains the patter and

thu :.heiroe -.hich Poe .'as to e:-p:lore in most of his action

withinn its satiric and parodic tone, it records a voyage

out .and.l ,ack that is accomplished, both here and in the

serious fiction, by a sustained effort to survive, to dis- truth, to arrive- at the other '..'orld, and then to re-

turn to earth, become reconciled with its laws and limits,

and finally bring to mankind a vision of that far world

which they cannot, by themselves, become conscious of.


1 Jacbs, 305-06.

2 Ed.,ar Allan Poe, Complete Works, ed. James A. Harrison
(lie..: York: Thomas i. Cro .ell, 1902) .I, 73. All references
tc Poe's es'avs, mar; 1nalia, and to Eureka ,are taken from
this edrti.':,, whichh is still the basic, scholarly text.
IHu.:.:-.':c, both for its a'aibibility arid thoroughness, Arthur
I. Quir.n's r .:.o-'.':o.LLr*e edition of Poe' s poems and tales (:Iew
York: Alfred Kncpt, 1946) 'ill be used here. To differen-
tiate b t'een che t:'o, the former edition '..:ill be called

3 Such -.'works as "The P.a"en" and "Ulalume, both narrati''e
Fpoms -i r at m-like the stories, portratv qg"le'"cd, mad
minds are (p:-rhaps ihapp,'y) excep-cions to Poe' s o:-n. demands
for po try -- demands '.-'hich he Clearly fulfill.ed in the
mist.v lanI .sc,. p s f "Drear -Land,:' "To Orne i1-, Paradise,"
"The '.' 1.1e of Unrest, Anabel Lee," an-] others.



oGti-t Jacobs has i-stab. is'.::di the debt '...;icih Poe's ..:.or o..'es to the eic.-, h-centuL-y faculty

Sy;v. ho- .L. Ls, ..L -i: cularly tos, rles of Fccke, tihe

r..C... -.-Y,,...- Reid, Dug.aild Sto',-art, H-uLghJ Blai.r, and Lord

;es. %.'eitr '.:*;as the srcandar,. line on both a tF- and psy-

c.,l.:.,',.. r Iot only in the EngIand of the latter li O's but in

'ea-,.rl, al o; nineLeorth-centU:y 1A-rica .as .oll especially
.:: it '.',.- pro .c'.n:e 1d by .sa 'Ci i-.on 2.' : s c'am.' We

see Lhthir 'vi'.s reflecLed in Poo's czitic.isrm' arid --just as

pervasively--in his fictional portraits of the human person-

ality as well. In their psychology, the Scotsmen asserted

that the healthy, fully functioning man is one who has

managed to harmornize and balance the forces of his mind,

and integrate them into a unified entity thr-iough the power

of hij; will. If any single faculty (be it reason, or

passion, or intuition) were allowed to rebel and hold sway

o-.,er hethethers, the entire fragile structure of mind would

collapse. Always, for these psychologists and for Poe, the

mr.ost dangerous faculty, because the most difficult to con-

trol, was pI:si.on. if fear were allowed to smother reason,

if p:-ride were allowed to exting-uish the conscience, then


i.L:-|. .'-i t'., fLee- rn, the c.:. ci". t l '." or to see sLnper-

-:..-,1. vision--ali *,ould be LcS-t in a :o.lipsi3tic and .frag-

n,..ited radness whichc h _render.. .t.; victim a helpless prey

to the '.oL-aciousness of the v.ery real ''orid outside him.

.'ind it is just that kind of v-;orld -.hiic. Poe. forces his

iero to face aoain and again. His i. lustr..Ited ':ap of the

eo'ith records chasms of junirr.arinable d,-ntlhs, beasts a-prowl

for blood, and sea so rav'agd by .7llc-o that only th- i2har.s

can su.rvi'.'e them: a ferocious, Dar''.ini.n '..: rid w'.'Lici: offers

cthe '..eA. iothinjg more than sure anil inuirinent 2:xtinct Lon.

i-ut if hi' H-ero i.s ever to fulfill his d --:s ti: .y ,. , d' s r, then he l ,iust firstI accepc t1, d.. .. -. rs of ea rth ly

life: a-nd f .nd within n L.i.sel the imear.s to i-;i-ir '.i' them.

'le.: rty hi t-i.k is not ligit e:sp-ec .ll' so. bhe auise, Ia-

-tenty at, lih: is an ..arti-st id --off Lers f-:om the pride

jan ci n.s c.'s .'ich Poe be i :=-od, 3 '.:i a i'.i i.5 .nvar-

iably v.: .-..d ..ith.

We :h :].1 ..,. .' -.'. hn in, firs L in 1' .'a a2 I .-: .. 3 t1he

narrator .. "The l'c l - h... .h.d cas '. .Li.-:ii W l.son.

Both charac.'. n are d-.sti--,e3d bi/ th ir.- a L l.o'-.i n t:. me Ulv\'

Lc beccOT .-..t times c '-' :..i on I f .-ar in t', first c c lust-

ilL the secI :nd) Eth '*,.'ite 1-' --emoir: in atciImn) ts to

justify*; *:.. ,.,:, Lr.-- .ut in both ir.s c.. c ; thcir h ot -e r c

:-,., -.a. ":; ic nX ..: .nc' "-,.'.i s:.,-::i ty are ].iiercuc 1by it sh:t1 LL

.: r ci Li .ch :th2'' e.:v. o )'ot.3:E .'Marac..rS set o;i.' o ccLi-

,"r ,: .'.-': .r, .,_-i-. -''" .:' n tn '..:r-- 1.v,. th- s l "i ";. ..... -to'- ho

themselves that they feel impelled to murder them. And

though both succeed in their crimes, the very moment of

-heir triumph is also the moment of their damnation.

The protagonist-narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is

perhaps the most deluded of all of Poe's characters. He is

certainly the most pitiable. For he unconsciously reveals

to us just how completely he is enthralled and enchained

by his madness. lie imagines that merely because he is

prudent, he is thereby sane. He imagines that if he but

tells us of his exploit, we will thereby recognize his

sanity. iHe imagines that he can murder the kindly old man

whose "vulture eye" so obsesses him, murder him and escape

retribution. And he imagines that in that dark, midnight

maze of a shuttered-up house, he is free and strong enough

to do what-soever he will, that the world and its laws con-

not penetrate his Light little domain.

But it all falls apart. Protest as much as he likes

(in fact, too much) that his are not the ravings of a

lunatic, badger us with one affirmation after another of

his reason and cunning ('why will you say that I am mad?

i. . den know nothing. But you should have seen me"),

he still over and over again reveals to us just how fatally

ill he is. And what shows him up is his tell-tale style.

YIneed, he invites us to judge his sanity on the basis of

his verbal felicity: "Hearken! and observe how healthily--

how cal ly v I can tell you the whole story. But then,


:'..hcn \.e .:att nd to his lancuac-e -.:e observe how. breathy, how

e.-:claniatory, no..: ragced i.t is; how',: the sentences begir. more

and more to fall into quick phrases separated only by r'ashe-s:

"[the old man's hearL=a':] o re': louder--louder--louder'

:-rnd still the men chatted pleasaiitly, and smiled. Was it

possible they' heard not? Almighty God--no, no! They heard--

;:iev suspected'.--they knew' .

Just as sellingg" as the inchoate style is the discon-

tinuous fo'., of the narrative. He can.!not narrate his story

without, constant ly pitching himself as r,:emn:.itist, as rhet-

orician, into te flcw-. of ve'.ets "It took ie an hour to

place my .-;hole head withini n the opening- so far that I could

see him as lhe lay; upon hils beJ. Ha. 'iculd a madman have

beeni so .-is' as this?" .'id i:re: "T'he old man's terror

'.s hr,.e been e:.:t reine! [His leart beat] gre',.- louder, I

,ay, '.ouder e-:.'ecv mom!ent---d. you mark rre '.:.e1ll? I ha'.'e told

,-ou t:'..t I am ne r.'c' s: so I ram. .A1 he can respond to is

hI;.s ow'n cn, lie is loc:.ed so deeply, so firmly into nar-

c.i-:,sL-: t ha, e'.-- te o!d 1rin s...;i-rs t.o i::.:omn e a reflec-

Son of hi.u.:olf-- -he victim's fear and despAitr in- Ljiguiing

to hi:- :ti..': o ly lh .iocause he feels tb:ose ei'L ,tions, too:

"''He. ;.., Ltl siUt-.inr;> up in the bed;; --just as I

.hav e dolrne, iiiljh afterL ni:ht hrark:en i.r" to -the death '.aLtJhas

in t'- 1 l." The old mdn's 'jg oani "has '..e I.d .ip fro-n riy

o:.. bc.m, c.-cpnir:n, with its dreadful echo, the terrors

c: h.i' 3istrac'Od i:. .. I kne-: w.iat the old marn i,: .,

S1.d pi.:iied him, although I chuckled at heart." The killer

is drLi,'en by a lust both for murder and suicide. And gains

both. He speaks more truly than he knows when he tells the

police that the old man's shriek (which had been heard by a

reigg;bor) "`..-as my own in a dream." That "vulture eye,"

that "Evil Eye," that pale blue, filmy eye of the old man is

at once a w..indow to immortality and a mirror of his own

soul. He destroys them both.

He is indeed cunning and resourceful: he does indeed

proceed with caution, foresight, and dissimulation, just as

he claims. He prudently waits until midnight when the

house is "black as pitch with the thick darkness" before

executing his plot. He has shuttered the windows, extin-

guished the lamps, and bolted the doors. A sanctuary. No

entrance. i:o exit. The midnight world, outside in that

nameless city, does not exist. He is free to stalk his

prey, destroy it, and hide all the traces. He is the victor,

free of the "vulture" whose "eye would trouble me no more."

But through the muffled dark and the stone walls of the

house has gone the old man's scream of terror, a shriek

which alerts a neighbor and brings the police. The world--

its laws, its limits--comes knocking at his door, comes

strolling into the inviolable chamber, and smiles and waits

as the new master of the domain shivers, trembles, and

scr-eams finally and t-ruly of how very much, after all, he

had had need of the world and of its stern and exacting

punishrmnt for his awful deed:, the bloody evidence of whichc h

l.ies scattered beneath th-a floor. Stone w.'alls do not a

icai:den make, nor e'.ven the flimsiest of barriers to the in-

v-asion of t3me and 19w.

Up a 'hort flight of stairs from this madman of "The

!Tell-Tale Heart," an aged iWilliam Wilson sii:s in his cell

in thinr, .epest of Poe's prisons, 'writing his ow'.'n memoirs

of de. te~-t and danuLation. He too is engaged not in a nar-

' .-i .3. so -ii.uch as a rhetorical e:.ercise, one .-.hich he prays

-..ilil ' his readers to extend to him the "pity" and

:'.s m:.pathy" je claims he deser'.es. H-e wants us to ceo tha'

i have.' been, in some measure, the slav'.e of circum-
sT:'ancs be'.ond human control. I '.i.Duld ;:ich them
;.o seek out for me, in the details I am about to
(L'.'ye, some' little o.sis of fatality amid a .-ildeir-
.-3 f of error. i. would ha'.-e them al o:.'--..- at t'iey
,cnnii rC D L rain from allo'..', although tomp-
tation mna; have ere'.;hile ex:i-sted as qre-at, man
I'.a n thus, at least, tnempted uefore--certainly, thus fell. (1, 277-278)

Ho.'e'.'er,, the story he then tells denies us the possi-

bility of .seeing him as a '.ill-less, impotent sla'.-t in the

ihads of an implacable fate. it shows, :.n:;tead, '3.ilson's

-'.'O'.-'.i.: into Lu 1.1 )po..' 'er and utt.e;: 1. .,'illful ontroIl

I..h F t- i-h t L
.hat hb e o.-:s; he i.- truU'' :Will's son; the .tory is an i ronl.

parable of victoryy in which after a number of har}.o.;ing

tri A., the haro, livingg lost his "sovereignty" to his

rebellious twin, finally revolts, kills the upstart, and

rega; ns '-,is c.:n power. iut. h .is victo- y destroys him at 't:11.

" --:. ..t claims. it.

Wilson says that as a child he "grew self-willed .

the master of my own actions." But at the same time, he

also became "a prey to the most ungovernable passions,"

a victim of his fami.'y's "imaginative and easily excitable

temperament." It is this paradox, that he is at once both

master and slave, villain and victim, that is at the heart

of his story. He is indeed free to do whatever he wishes,

and yet his wishes are imperiously dominated by his unchecked,

rebellious lusts. He may indeed hold sway and governance

over his family and, eventually, his companions; yet he in

turn is enslaved--because he allows himself to be--by the

tumultuous, chaotic forces of passion.

The violence he then does to his integrity is fatal.

For Wilson embarks on a rebellion against that power within

himself, his conscience, which alone could have saved him,

had he but submitted to its rule. It is this power of

normative judgment, sound reason, and response to moral

beauty and sublimity i ';'iiclil WiL :-on ne .-.C.i b nL e"

unbridled passion. As a gloss on all this, we might con-

.ider the following passage Erorn Uphamn's Elements of Iental

Philosophy: 3

A man is not in the first instance a villain, be--
cause his conscience makes resistance, and will not
let him be so. But if the energies of the will are
exercised in opposition to the conscience, if on a
systematic plan and by a permanent effort the
remonstrances of conscience are unheeded and its
action repressed, its energies will be found to
diminish, and its very existence will be put at
hazard. the conscience nmay be so far seared,
as to be virtually annihilated. (Upham, II, 402)

SL, a "p n-
.S a youth, Wi lson attends Dr. Bran by's school, a "pon-

derous" and "-pr-ison-lika" institution which, oddly enough,

his older se.L' remembers quite fondly---perhaps because, though

he is not fully aware of it, th1t rigidly disciplined insti-

tui.ion pro''J.ded him with his chance to grow into a

b-lanced maturity'. For it is there that he encounters the

boy' .:ho, it unfolds, not only bears his name, birthday, and

date of ac-ri.val at thea school, hut also closely resenibles

him. This lad, alone cf all of Wilson's classmates, refuses

"implicit belief in my assertions, and submiss tor to my will";

hE c..'as not s':ayad by the tyranny Wilson held over the stu-

den.. 'ti lson soon begins to loathe hiii tw.,in's "frequent

officious interference" ...'ith his '...ill, even though the other

c.ilsor. d-ispl as a "mor-l sense . far keener than my o:'.n.

le g-ro'.:.. resti- e in the extreme under his distasteful

isup.:r.'_ision, and comes to feel positivee hatred" for his

ii;mesake. Finl.lly, Wilson says that he fled the school

afte .._:.LI- crept one night to the other Wilson's bed, there

i-) play a ::,:-ick on him. What he finds there, -hough, is

'.-.ha the i:<-i atc.r of "The Tell-Tale Hea-t" discover's in his

dar.- nidni iht: hi_-m el Wilson e:-:cLaim:;, as he looks down

at his sli,--:-i ..'-. l i t.'i t i numb horror and incredulity,

".e.;:,e t .hese--.thse theL- lineaments of William Wiil-.on?

.:. it, n truth, '..i-n!i;. tlhe bounds of h;iiman po-ssibility,

-;,t1: .:..:-. I no.w s:.:: ' the -esulL, merely, of the habitual

:r--.ct'.. c .,f thi sa cs.-. ti:c imitationn" Unabli to face the

truth of what-he has seen, he flees the chamber, "and left,

at -~ce, the halls of that old academy, never to enter them

ag a ir. "

With his flight, Wilson has failed the test imposed on

so many of Poe's heroes--the ordeal of the pit. There his

heroes are led, by their own temperament as well as by

external forces, to face as best they can the horror and

the truth that lurks in the dim and awful depths of their

spirits. If through fear or pride or illusion they run

from what they see ("Ligeia") or try to destroy it ("The

Tell-Tale Heart"), they will be chained there forever; if

they meet it, and quell their terror and attempt to come to

terms with it, to understand what they see in those crypts,

tombs, and cellars--they can return to the world of dawn

and day.

But Wilson runs. And the rest of the story he tells

us is of his continued attempt to escape the meaning and

consequences of the identity between himself and his twin.

But everywhere he turns, his twin is there frustrating his

plans and revealing to his victims the sordid swindles

Wilson perpetrates on them. Ultimately, abased and "humbled

:.o the dust," Wilson finally can take no more of his twin's

"inscrutable tyranny," his "impertinent supervision" and

"varied interference with my will." No more, he resolves,

shall he succumb "supinely to this imperious dominion."

Helped by lately having "given myself entirely up to wine"

(al'.ys, in Poe's fiction, a prelude to disaster) "its

maddening influence on my hereditary, temper rendered me

rore and rcre impatient of control," and he makes "a s'ern.

and desperate resolution that I would d submit io longer."

At a rma.sked ball during a carnival in Spain, ',Wilson

inmpales his nemesis on his rapier--onl].vy o see '.it-h rer~,,-ecd

horror that hie has actually and only murdered himself. His

*.iying conscience whispersr s to him, "You have conquered, and

I yield. Yt . art thou also dead--dead to the '.-orld,

to H:a-.-en, and to 0Hone'. In me didcs t thou e:xist---and, in my

death, see by this image, v.'hich is thine o'.-n, hoy.: u.:terly

thou hiast rmu rer ed thyself."

In terms of the reigning psychological theori- all

of the mental faculties ace .'valuable and only became ',aarpad

if one of them tri-umphs and trample, o'.'er the others. The

battle between William Wilson and his double is not a battle

l.':-..e;- ,n the inherently evil passions and the inl.herentl

idec it consc: ice. Rather, it is a ci'.-il ...a cf '-he ni.nd

in '.-:hich the most vol tile of its faculties brcetks off from

-ind conlquier; a ll the oT'ers, only to destroy, because of

its rc .''olt the -rintire fragile s*'stem. .'. lson's twin is

:i)t o1u f:or re.' but for reunion and a restoration of

the prc-:ar.ous bjaanc.e of all the force; within the mind.

.n' thi3 e:xp.[-ll:i Poe's twist on the allegorical focr- --t;ie

c'.:ict and t'-ta] idc:tity of the protagonist. Each of th:m

(a i- the ri.1- t al pc'.;ars thoy entjody) needs the c-'iher b)c u.;,?,

'plit and sundered, neither can live. They are not twins

at all, not doubles, but one human being. The web of human

personality is seamless. And thus the passionate Wilson's

murder of the moral, reasoning Wilson is his own defeat and


The wine to which Wilson admits his addiction unmans a

number of Poe's other protagonists. It, and its equivalent,

opium, destroys the capacity for clear thought and action

in such tales as "King Pest," "Shadow," "System of Dr. Tarr

and Mr. Fether," and many others. Nowhere, though, is its

destructiveness more apparent than in "The Black Cat."

Its narrator, evidently chastened and sobered by his

awareness of imminent death, describes how his disintegra-

tion had been sparked by "the Fiend Intemperance." Though

he had been prosperous, happily married, and "noted for the

dociltiy and humanity of my disposition," his addiction to

drink made him grow daily "more moody, more irritable, more

regardless of the feelings of others." But more than this,

the alcohol begins to disorder his intellect and stir up

chaotic and uncontrollable passions:

One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from
one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the
cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in
his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight
wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of
a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself
no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to
take its flight from my body; and a more than
fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every
fibre of my frame.(I, 478)

Note the .verbs "fancied" and "possessed." He is indeed be-

coming trans-formed into a new; being, one no longer rational

cr lov'ing--and thereby one no longer free, no longer capable

of conLt:olling or shapJing his ca.'n destiny.

In a fit of mad anger, he cuts out the cat's eye, and,

later, urged by .-:hat he calls "the spirit of PERV'EPSE'EIESS,

he kills the beast. Still later, ;hen its image appeared

on the remaining ..-:all of his burnt-out hcuse, he can

rationally explain it awvay. Sut he is so far gone that his

reason is of no helo. The cat's continues "to make

a d.-cep ijprc ssion uonon my fancy. For months I could not

rid myself of the phantasm of the cat. .." .1hn he finds

.ano:-a-r ca':, much like the first, he soon- comes -Io I'ate it

.s .ll. And ..hlien he- notices that a scruff of :-:hite hair

on tlhe animal resermles the gal lo.-.'s, he collap'ses into

.sol'..t s-.'ritu-de to hiis o'.-:n obsessi n: "its vast .-:eight--

an iac1 Liatie -iigt-' lare that I had no pze'.r to shake off--

Iay in:or;bent eternally upon imy: heart'." Precisely. And in

,=.e .f thoco "s;ud.:J0, freq, uent, and urn.v.s'.e.iabl.c outbulsts

of a fury to which I no'.; blindly abandoned myself," he kills

i ..' Ti e ail '.-alls he:' corpse in the c~ -. L and, un.-.ittingly,

*'itth lier :h. cat shrieks '.will. je"eai his crime to the

po[. ice.

L'.-' "W-i..i.iam .'iilson" and. "The Tel -Tale lie.rt, this

story .is s:- ctured around a 'YLrr'.hic victory. Its protag-

cnist Z'..qi E.-s that he has conquered a particularly

oppressive enemy ("Once again I breathed as a free man")

only to find that his victory and new freedom are illusory--

that he has only destroyed himself. What he thinks to be

his liberation is only his enslavement. He believes him-

self to be acting calmly and rationally; but he is instead

imprisoned by those "ungovernable Furies" which he has (as

he admits) allowed to gain mastery over him. The monster

he walls up within the tomb is himself.

However, what we are about to observe in "A Descent

into the Maelstrom" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" is ver-

ification that the Hero can, ultimately, break free of the

shackles of suicidal despair and pride, achieve self-command,

and thereby survive the dangers of the world.

In "The Pit and the Pendulum," the here is stripped

down nearly bare of the strength and energy by which men

normally can create their strategies for survival Nerve-

ridden, haunL-ed by the "long agony" of his trial, with its

"dread sentence of death," utterly alone in a realm he Ls

not at first sure is even earthly, a realm so dark, so

empty that none of his senses but that of touch is operative--

this is his doom. Poe pushes this victim of the Inquisition

farther and farther out, testing him, forcing him to call up

whatever reserves he has---and in the process seeing just how

far it is that we as men can (go.

In the midst of the revery induced by his fear and sick-

ness, the narrator tells us that for a moment he imagined

thitl :l e-:._ r n .; .-.s .g tf inter.cCde for hirm: "And th:;n y

v.LS~in fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. At

firsc they .'ore the aspect of charity, and seer.ed :'.hi.te

sliander angels .who .-:cu.d save me." But such i.s 1not to he

Lth' case

theI, all at on.e,.,.tiere-'fse a most deadly nause.
o_;,.-f-Efp-'Ft, and I felt ever' fibre in my frame
thLi' l as if I had touched the -;ire of a galvanic
battery, 1-.hile the angel forms became., meaningless
sopect':es; '..'ith heads of flame, and I sa'. that from
them there ..'as to be no hope. (I,434)

;lo flig-hts of angels to sing him to his rest, or his .rescue.

Instead, '.:ih his identity and history and idiosynmcrs ies

::iped out----.'with all his ties to planetary LilFe seemiJngly

e:-:t_ inguish', he goes do'n to the pit: "all sensation ap-

cacrLed s..'allo'.ed up in a r.oad rush in.1g Jcscent as of the soul

into Hade. Then: silence, and stillness, and niaht :-arn

L e U i. -'-e "

.: he a:.akens, e quickly learns t! L'-i? ::.'h r. r he is,

th-ere is no lig't L, no 3ou:'d, no r,,o'.'er:ent of angry kind. At

.irs- 'i-e imagines v.'ith horror and agorny that .- may be

;.:!c- d u;p in a croypt. But even after he has e arnd, that

tij is nol. the case, lie .; ti r.u to tr-y to lrea,.; :- h :I

--'n ..::-.Ie. in, heD "ha.d little object--c rtaiJ.nlJ y !Lo

hope . 'uri a 'a:je c.iosi.ty pronrpted ne to continue

the.'" (t-hoiuih it ma,:..-,. ,no. be operative a;-. tis y o..oint inL the

storyy, it is Kne.rtl:1-:ss t'is i 'P idle" curiosi.t- opera;-

.i. .]) t ,.:, of Poe'. '. .ew:o ,s..: .. g to calm .ti ,--.s l'-es

d'.ii .-ar enough to attain it, which proves to be a crucial

means for their survival). He then leaves the wall to

advance directly across the cell, but trips on his torn robe

and falls just short of the yawning pit toward which he had

blindly been advancing. His fall, then, would appear to

be a merely fortuitous accident. But not entirely. He had,

after all, ripped the bottom of his robe in getting a piece

of it to use as a marker as he circumscribed the dungeon.

Thus, though he had not foreseen it, his cunning and plan-

ning do help save him.

He effects his own deliverance more directly from the

torment next inflicted on him. Whereas in his initial

plight he had only his sense of touch to connect him with

the world, in the subsequent dilemma he has only his sense

of sight. Awakening from a drug-induced stupor, he finds

himself strapped to a slab beneath the slowly descending

scythe. As the blade inches closer and closer to his chest,

he tells us that, "I grew frantically mad, and struggled to

force my self upward against the sweep of the fearful scim-

itar. And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at

the glittering death, as a child at some rare bauble." He

momentaar.ily feels, then loses, "a half-formed thought of

joy--of hope." But he cannot hold onto it. "Long suffering

had nearly -Inrihilated all my ordinary powers of mind. I

was an imbecile--an idiot" (1, 441). He relapses into his

earlier frenzied desire for death; he follows the blade's

s:'.ing "'with thz eagerness of the mITcst unmeaning des.air,"

quivering "in every nerve." But, then, he goes throu-h,

joes beyond, this despair-borne passiv.ity and paralysis.

In totally accepting the fact of his death, bI no lonacr

allow.'ing fear or the death-wish to ha:.e dominion over his

intellect--at that point, he reaches a peace, a calmness

which h settles and rests his nerves and thus his mind as

well. He finally is able to reme[r-iber that plan 'which had

fleetingly given him hope for escapirng the pendulum's arc.

And he carries it out. The rats, attracted 'by the food he

sprinkles or. his chest, ch'ew. through his bonds. jhile

..aitinai this through, he faces the sternest test of all:

"I '.'as half-slIifled by' their thronging pressure. .. Yet

--ne minute, and I felt that the struggle would be o'.er.

Plainly I perceived the loosei:ing of the bandage...

'.-ith a more than hjinan resolution I lay still" (I, *-13).

Perception. Inferef nc Will. All of these;..a 1

and active powers of the'rind, given the freedom to cLerate,

en:.ale nim to surviv.e. With a cry of t-riiiip:h, he d.escribes

his ,Ll. l-made.: l liberation:

;;o:: d.:;: I erred in my calculation--nor had( I
an re.d in 'vain. I at length felt that I was
1 -ree. . At a i;c'.'e of rmy hand :my deliv.ercers
!hu:ried turmliltuously aw'.ay. With a steady
mcv:'.':ien t- -cantif .'-;, sidelong, shrinking, and
slo'--I- slid frc-m the erm-brace of the bandaae and
icey cnd he e.-ich of th-e scim.itar. For thl riLcr:ent,
a-t least, I .:as fr: (I, 4 3)

He has fr-ee. himself, .nd, though still "jin the gcasp

cf the Inquisition," still at the, mercy of his tormentors

who begin yet another deadly game with him, he has nonethe-

less bought enough time for himself that LaSalle can reach

him before it is too late. Had he at any time earlier

succumbed fully to his terror, to his wish for death, he

would never have escaped. Had he not manned himself (hav-

ing been so long "unmanned" by his fears), he would have had

to surrender to the slave-masters above him--as he would

already have succumbed to the slave-masters within him.

A similar challenge faces the narrator of "A Descent

into the Maelstrom." The hero, a fisherman whose very live-

lihood depends upon audacious courage and pertinacity, is

plunged into the whirling abyss of the maelstrom where, to

survive, he must summon up more energy and strength than

he had imagined possible. His story is not about mere sen-

sation. Rather it is concerned with the process by which the

hero escapes the whirlpool--what it is that happens to him--

and what he makes happen to him that enables him, alone of

the three brothers, to escape.

It is, first of all, a combination of luck, unthinking

instinct, and precaution. His younger brother is swept

overboard, even though he had lashed himself to the mast;

whereas the narrator is saved by throwing himself flat on

the deck and holding tight onto a ring-bolt--an act which

springs not from foresight or caution but "mere instinct

. .fo. I was too much flurried to think." After this

initial onslaught, he must fight his way out of the "stupor"

whichc h o'.ercores him and "collect my senses so as to see

what 'w.,as to be done." Tiis he does, and 1e quickly sees

t:hat thlre is nothing to be done, that their: shattered craft

is being rushed to the lip of the maels trom, there imminently

to be '.'hirled to pieces. But he does not ,relapse into

frenzied panlic:

It may appear strange, but no.', when we [he and
his brother] ..:ere in the '.'ery jaws of
the gulf, I felt more composed than ..hen we .:.ere
only approaching it. ia'.ing made my mind to hope
no m',ore, I qot rid of a great deal of chat terror
.which unmanned me at first. I supposed it
despair that st rung my nerves.
It may look like Lioasting--but '..:hat I tell
you is tl.rth--- I bc-ian to,- reflect he..' imagnic; ficent
a thing it .'as to die in such a miani'ier, and how.
foolish it in me to think of so paltry a con-
si..!er-tion as rmy o-.n indiv- idiual life, in vi.'i : of
so :..Oi:Cerful a man-i festation of God's po'.-.r. I
do believe that I blushed with sham-_ r.Then this
idea crossed my mind. After a little .hil- [ be-
came cossessed '...'ith the keenest curiosity :_-bout
the w'hiri itself. I positivel- felt a wish to
e:.:plore its depths, e.v.n at the sacrifice I :;as
:-oing to lmake; and myR principal grief '.as that
I should never 1:e able to tell ri, old co:.,anions
on shor-. about the mysteries I should see. . .
kI, 319)

For the, :omelrent, then, having accepted his fate, ha-.i.;ig

E!cu.e reconci. le d to it, ho can calmly attempt to eC:.amine

the nov'.el an..l a .'.some p:nome i !' which h has s-:wept him up.

Hi.- older b.:other; thioic'h, is never able to achieve this

:.t-ate ofr "slf-cseJessionac.. he becomes, and re.nains, "a

.,'. rar . a rav.i ng maniac through sh,-e--: fright '.lereas

L. n. r-rao-r, d fr oned the1 minicar of h fear, ,an n'.ak

i...G cr f -h e po'.;c r. of. t intel ..ct (obse r ati on, r;ir:ort'y,

curiosity, ,and ana l.sis) ';ich are, i,-, his brother,

hopelessl; smothered. 'd-i through the use of these powers

he slo'..'ly begins to see ho..: he need not resign himself to

deaTh, that there might be a way up for him after all.

afterr a caLeful scrutiny, he concludes that if he ties him-

self to a .':ater-cask and throws himself into the maelstrom,

that his chances for survival would be better than they are

in the bcat. This he does. And then he has to watch help- as ;:he boat bearing his brother (who had, "despair-

inrgl," refused to join him) goes down forever into the

chasm. Scon, the maelstrom "relents, its walls become less

steep, the gyrations less violent, and "the bottom of the

gulf seemed slowly to uprise." Exhausted and aged by his

ordeal, the narrator is finally rescued by friends who at

first "knew me no more than they would have known a travel-

ler from the spirit-land." But a traveller who has come

home, reborn, saved from death by mastering his passions

and channeling their energy into his intellect.


1 ;'sp. Chap;:er One.

2 Particul.arli in formativ.' about the Scottish influence in
Acmeric3 are Herbert W. Scheider, A History of Ame;rican
Phil J -'.. 2nd ed. ( 'S:. York: Coluirmbia University Press,
1962)7, Cha:pter Four, and Jay Uharton Fay, Jnerican Psychol-
:.ogy Eef,,r-e i!illiam Jarms (;e'.: Bruns:..'ick: Futgers Uni'ersity
Press, !9S) and .. A. F.ov-ack, History. of American Ps ychol-
ouy (;ml.D-. 'York: Collier, 1964). Also helpful, especially for
Lthir aesthetics, is William ,Chcv.'at, The Origins of A.tjTeri-
can Critical Thought 1310-1335 (Ie'.': Yorik: A. S. Barnes,
i'. 36). An ].nterestinrc if not .very sympathy tic stud-'. of
their influence on rAmierica's theory an-"d [-ractic.'e of fiction
: Terencc-e ilartin, The Ins tructed Vision: Scot tish Corunon
Sense Phi l.os ophi. and1 the ri ;iis of Ame-rican Fiction, Indiana
Uni.-ers it'i Hi-umannities Sejries ,.43 (Blooming ton: Ind.t.ana Uni-
er it; Press, 1961).

3 Elements of -ental Philocoj hy, 3r.1 ed. (Port d, .e.
ill iar, Hyde, 1339) Since :-e shall be ci cing, U hi:.?In G-.:;g in,
s Mi. bak.g cound mi, qht be u--o :fu .'.ccord ing to the c3 ro.1 -
i.cle r of Ame rrican psycliclogy, Utham '.as "the first r 7at
:.riaeric--n te:tbo'.k writer r in mn:-.~l hi los; pi:y" (Schieider,
210), and his often reprinced 'o..:k '.as "T Ihe classic tex
prito to .Jmes . ." ( F.o ack, 63) His Elerents, coc-
iLSt ing of three '.- olumes--cne on the Intel lecLtu 1 i a Faculties,
= s,.eonij on the Acti'.-e Faculities, and t1he thi rd on the 1;ll---
,',pe ied bcl '.-.'een 1831 and 1234, jiust '.*vhen Pos ' bc._inning
his .' *ri. t in caree r. In 1.40, IUrh.-:,, also '..'rot "the first
sy':itemr.tic te:t-. in ..mmerica on a',ino-.ral psychology" (Fi7y, 36).
Tr-. Poe, in hi .cinati: '.i the he lthy and the per-
.t-se m ii- '.*...1' _not I -.' ..-. .n -t lea r t of Uphan' s general
thor.i't, if not i.s specific '.orks, is almost inthinknable.
'.t the '-ecy least, UIpham i and al.l .te Scottish school) af-
fol's i.-n a 1 ."_ c h -r., Le ica ln ih its 1 Pce f ictionral
po.:traihs of ;, i l.



eh3 have now described the initiatory stage of the Hero's

quest. He has achieved a large measure of self-command and

maturity. But he has not yet come to a full control over

the savage and crushing chaos of earth, a control which he

will need if he is eventually to escape the earth and lift

himself to the kingdom of vision. It is clear from a num-

ber of stories that Poe believed his Hero must engage in a

struggle which, though it is every bit as dangerous and

difficult, goes beyond that struggle for mere survival and

will enable him to gather the truth of this world, a truth

which he and all humanity need if any of us are to be saved

from earthly blindness and squalor.


In this new battle, he must begin by understanding the

nature of his first adversary--that discordant, melancholic,

miasmic spirit of Illusion, which had struck, and needed to

be repelled so fiercely in himself. If mankind is to be

readied for receiving the joy of Vision, its emotions must

first be calmed and its intellectual powers harmonized

through being made aware of the true nature of earthly real-

ity. !And the gccblins, ghosts, and wierd, writhing ghouls--

all those phantasms which jangle nerves and fever the imag-

ination- -must be the first of the Hero's victims.


There are a nutier of tales which al though they' are

parodic and sometilMes silly, display t the thee of the de-

structiveness of illusions. In "Thi Spectacles," for

it1stanc?, the "c--,citble" and .-ain narrator -efuses to

.:ear the classes he needs an.1 falls in love ..'ith a lady

..'hoe "form as divine." He nma-ries her, only to find with

a shock tha:: she, the "beau ide.l o'f my ':ildest and most

ent'hiusiastic visions," .':as his ow.-n "'ideous" aird aqed great-

graindmc:-.her, a fact he only= discovers '.hen he finally puts

c: his sr:-ectacles. He asserts of himself that he had been

"deceiv-ed by n, '. .'eakiess of vision, and the arts .of the

t.oil t." B.ut she says imiore truly that his rapturous love

for he;r .;s "a fancy or fant-sy .. a baseless aid unstable

.:reation r-.ther of the .ri-agination than of thle h..rt. He

had fallen in love '.*.'tli an anj:-el '.;ho e:-:isted only in Ihis

hIe.-d. He '-ad refi.sed out of pride to see '-.,hat truly :,.as

tli.:." to bo seat.

in "The C(.lonj Box" there is another insi.f ferable,

,.a.n' yo'oun.j ..p C_ n.;t, this one co:..nv'inced that his FCri-nd

:1'_ shr.[:r ;t-, ian arti.s;: n m- .d \..'a't, is celiberat.l1 'on--

ce,.] in.7 f r-OT7' h .'t th-: true con. tents of ti' co ffin-shap'-d

:: I. -. :.' Ilt .. b . LOrhCl. t ;.)cai.b d their ocaft and secreted

in. c.e cab). .-- do..) r to iis *:-jn. Thl r.uij.hout the ocean

Cy' x. na-rr-acr, th.:;ugh he dces noi-hing '-he '-,hole timeL

but,, try ,-. topiec together the riddle of the bo:-:, is con-

.;, v a.-.d ..'i- lvl dece i-,-.d aboJt it., aboT ut Wya t's scraiInge

*jjoom, his oddly-comported wife--and everything else. When

:e- finally learns (through no doing of his own) that Wyatt

has been transporting his wife's corpse in the box and that

hi s maid was impersonating his wife for the duration of the

I.o/age, the narrator acknowledges, finally and humbly, that

his mistaken assumptions had arisen "through too careless,

too inquisitive, and too impulsive a temperament."

Somewhat more skillful a story is "The Sphinx," in

which the narrator and his friend retreat to a cottage far

from New York City in order to escape the "dread reign of

cholera." But even in this refuge, the narrator admits that

he cannot shake off his obsession with death--the palsyingg

thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I could

neither speak, think, nor dream of anything else." One day,

he sees what appears to him to be a huge, "living monster

of hideous conformation" crawling down a hill opposite to

the cottage. He goes berserk. But his companion, a man of

"richly philosophical intellect," and of "a less excitable

temperament" than the narrator's, saves him from his terror

by pointing out that the immense monster was only a mere

spider dangling out the window. The narrator's fantasy had

issued from his own grisly obsession with death and his

failure to attain an adequate perspective on the insect--a

"mere mis-admeasurement of its propinquity."

In other tales, Poe examines still other causes for the

eruption of illusion: the credulity and tolerance of oddity

in "The Syl.c i rfln -*a -,.jc.!orr -arr aned Ir. reLher ; -te nar -

r. ct.r'. l) i'C : In ,-he 'value of m ;-. ria ., sci,. .-j. .c ,"cc res.

in "Thie ,.,:. rho -S Isedi ,p" ; drunk ness or opiu!, JL addct ion

in "BoI-Bcn," ".'.-.el cf te Odd," and "Hop-Frou" (ot ito

::n- ti:n the .. .:: eriL s tudiLes of te the;r.' in many of

,h-<.2 stories ..'-2 1'avce considered, or soon ::ill, at l nj :h).

In all .- :c.: .->-a ca e-s ..tho.jlLh there rmiy be p c1 r -

causas for t.e delusions (.g. cGhole-rs pla.inOes) the ccu--

ca t iacaor is t"' x .'e'.:. ass nd pr and stupoidit.' of the

..e '.: is u .1e t. is nor in.:'.it...ble in- th; nature of

ii n',j s o,2' '.'i.s frie:t. of th e fool in "The Sphi x<"


T'.a u 3 a n. b, fa r thle :ros t :o'iple: oi D.: s tu, ies oF

f.ail I intL.le it.;.cn : '.-.1. l Of th< }iow:-\ of I: 1. "

.,,,ric. 's t Il i f P t .; ero i .s ,.. inK ii l.ty It ,.c--

< n L. : : .u u=o .'ic s o f '.' L .-* 1 9 .1 t h i- .-1 cZby'
....-.-......... "......

S. i : s ]' n u .I Li.t J.h I l' e n- o-: iii. rI -'. : i ci.'. 'n

(.el.usi n. ( i.;: ti.c l ar).. thcs.- ', ti .-h 1.i :'' b'.: :o '> e] i ..

:..m t ch : .'i .-{t. i.b ..-' rcd, that' tho sc n,.3 O: hi[ S C l.30

. C : i n: I n. .li.. '. .r t, ..:i t. h.i' ultim tL.l_,' his sister

'i.* c". .. ..: c t jc- z: to ; n i : 'sath ) i.':- ."

c .u b ;' "et' of *:w" :.Li1.ra a: e.. _. ifa1 u. i;r,dui...'. v'

. -. ''-.7."* rid 'l m .' i.o.i | l-':ng ..' Ih .s."m ,h^ si .- 1 .cnd

; E ; i i__l .-:- _'1i .1. pheno r1ti.

Many of Poe's stories, particularly those to be con-

sidered in Chapter Five, describe the disastrous conse-

-'.uences of a decadent aristocratic heritage, of willful

isolation, and of an obsession with a lovely, idealized

woman. The mad artist surrounds himself with the decadent

products of his own genius, thereby inducing deeper madness.

And he suffers the deadly effects of uncontrolled terror

and hyper-acuity of the senses. Since any one of these aE-

flictions is dangerous if not fatal to sense and balance,

it is not surprising that Roderick, who suffers from them

all, is so hopelessly doomed.

Roderick has allowed himself to become a victim of what K-

contemporary psychologists and physicians called hypochon-

driasis, a disease which Roderick's friend specifically _

posits of him, "the hypochondriac." Upham describes this

affliction as "a state of deep depression, gloom, or melan-

choly,' which can erupt either frcm "the inordinate workings

of the Imagcination" as it throws "a deeper shade, on what is

already dark," or from "an alienation of the power of belief."

in the latter case, the victim is "bcset with the most gloomy

and distr-essing apprehensions, occasioned by some

fixed and inevitable false belief," for instance, that "his

body jI gradually but rapidly perishing," or "that he has

been transformed into a plant" (UTpham, II, 396). All of

phram's descriptions of the causes and symptoms of this should remind us of Poderick Usher: of his mind,

' fL m '.. which -,'kn s- . p .-:.od forth 3,pon 11 0 ejec .s of

t'.-: moral and ph' sical unii'e-rs-o in c.;: unceasing radiation

of glc'i" ; of his belief -hat soon he "-"st ab:-.nido:n life

a;nd r,.aso together" in his st .: j l.e .'i:th teLrrors; and

of his e'..':-.n cor-e "cu'eCr t-itiouis" faith -h .at tlihe 'egojtation

.!--I .:f h '.s hom, aze -enti rent .-i. d ha'. "rou .' the

(ost.irie cf his fa.-mi lv" and hiri.;ell (.mvi italics). 'And

UL:ohc-A .s :v'.ocation of the w.-..orld as it '.could acpear to the

h-.:.och',:n' iac, as "a thick, ir,penet r-jble cloud whichhich ] s rems

., in'-n .tL e-",r'y pr-Lospect' whether present or future, siou ld

.;.:1 tio ,i:.t.d the densa cr-uh of c 'louds pressingg upGon the

r_."-ets of cLe house" on the last night of U.her's ]. i fe.

'hUl J S!iler's h-:po.'honr' li.a result f com t:c-iopercr.-en La I

S'...' l '.:.. L-lU.l; e ,cJ iJn ,. ocori' .i so *.?ticn *nd 'esul :s inL

t, r 'n .d hence d-es -..L-uctivo p.har. -.asn. (culmin. atingj in

i.1 ": I f *-..:' 1 ine) S'-it Poe p,, its lore i. ';i other a r.-.-t:o-. 1. s .Jell -a- c< :ho. ;i Jal cau--s of hi.s

ca : rho :k..'-r'p 's '::hic:> arl. & Fror -hc reCa'-c thit

.- :. i r. --- : i -, .--rd i tic por

.._L r.[.- c
*^ ; '. i.. ,, i [.LO L n c 1 bl- ai'i [-3aC er. --huiflOd," the

S .' t i.c.i .. i h. e -.'c =,u: s L -. 1 -c.'. "' 3 ., .. alt r
(.. ::. ... .; (_ o i i. . h r i: : l :-.'- t -. i- t t i. : ')

.. .' : .- 1 '. .h .'' :-. 9 . ,:3- r ..':- :.:; -:A (i ,-. p ^ ..._ .O.- ,.-

*. ".j '' *..I.Iii t il h t-::.C If upj.L-v o7 h bl<:-C''1 ; i-V'.3 iCccim : ;lonL l..

ct? -it.- 1. i *.117 :b "U ..I:Lo- U .r.(c.-iC. cO vi '.n i 3 .,7 hi:; cro-

*: L .- -; : -1 .. '- -. 1 iLf re

creations become "strange, spectral, and terrifying" (Upham,
I, 409-410). One could hardly describe the pale, melan-

cholic, luridly intense, deluded Usher any more precisely

than that.

As a cure fcr all this, Upham suggests that, as the

old associations of the victim are all tincturedd by his

peculiar malady," he should be taken away from them or be

introduced "into new society," thus banishing "that fatal

:fixedess and inertness" (Upham, II, 393). And this is

precisely th'e mission of "Usher's" narrator, called as he is

to Roderick's rescue, riding from his far home into a dark

and perilous realm to save his old friend from delusions and

terror, bringing Roderick the healing grace of his own

"cheerfulness" and companionship: Harrony visiting discord,

sense visiting mania, joy visiting gloom, and balance visit-

ing chaos. And this narrator, Roderick's putative physician

and savior, is truly the hero of the story, not just be-

cause he is the narrator, nor just because the dragon can

never be the hero of a kniqhjt's quest--but because he is

truly the ornly character who undergoes significant moral

transformation.3 Roderick is static, he merely continues

to suffer as he as been suffering for so long, his sister's

death and apparent resurrection being merely the last of a

lono series or detonaf.:ic:s within his fevered mind. But the

story centers around the quest of the narrator, tracing it

from its beginning to its tragic conclusion. lHe, rot Rod-

erick, is transformed by his ordeal, though not for the

good. As his exploit progresses, he gro'.ws increasingly
-- ..-._--*

inc.-.7l1:) le o saving his friend because he finds himself more

cnd mior5e the' victirl of the same deadly forces that he had

cjne to destroy. As \e shall -ee, bhe d*-agon of delusion

cc.nsume.Ts the;-, otLh.

'.hat. the story records is the narrator's c'.-e-r i n..'ard

plunge, first i ;,ito the .i..;eson countryside, the-r. tlh House,

and into 'the .ve heart of Roderick Uisher. b-;ith

each s eip, he bconies mo:.e and nore unsure of himself and

of .-.'hat is happening to him. "Wh'.at w.;as it .--that so

L'nneri'.'d m'e in the contermpJ at..on of thie [liouss of 'jUhr?"

''I sti 1 '.*.'o..der d to find :io'..' unfamiliar ',ere the fancies

;.:jch orJina.ry iin:-ges '.;cre sti.jr ng up. "T could not,

:ev. n :.lith e effort, connect [P.o:lerick's w. ild e::pre-s ion] :with

any Li. c.f simple human itvy. And on it goes, the naLTator

:.:,mir.i .:g .'ve : r'o'. b .'i ldered :y the strand ,se and :erie ef-

't,-ct ; on h'i:: ;: b.Lth "the farmiily and the farLi.'- ans ion. "

-i:." su c,; L-;. I .s th]t i s I lls e.'tibiL li y to be.;.ildermenit and

e '. L'. ) i i':i J. 'e t in Li; n.-n i: m ; me:--.t r vid. c n l ,

'. !.o- u,.;] ij..<.? L.,, i.. .ch.. 0for h is ,.'T ca. o-L i1't3 t.2.; e,

:.h. : .:air t.-r .c-.C :'.-' ..edg:S hat he "had. been -cc.s Ltrid fron

r*.'- in f :,fe: '" to the <-haL Lt .r'la.ori a -'.:h as Fill .cdei-i. !' 's

,ollne, : -Iat li.'.e .e s u 0-ou;d-d by "f-.n1ilia images .com

5is '-.".n li f e. But '..l- r:e :r "ch.e: r fulness" '.e r-ty r f'..ue i ad

1:ne- oies s:.'al .'.ed 'i ..n Roda L :':- p r-.'asi glo- c:: "It '..'as

no .;oncer th1: "-is co-Ji-L ton terruL .f.-e --ch]a it .'.. ,cct'md ne.

i fe.t- cre.pi.1n upon me, by slo-.' and uns:erta n degrees, tihe

...I,.I influences of his o'.'n fantastic yet impressive super-

stitios:. The narrator cannot help but become amain, as

he had been in child d.c.':d, RPderick 's "boon c:impanion."

Jat ,as happened in that: the minds and personal ties

Sol F.O diLL and 'his friend hjave fusOed -o ;nt.nnso3ly that "...e

can hci.-dlly .-,peak of thiern as t..'o separate ecltitic-s cat all.

In ouir -itudies of PyF and "ir'.jn Post," -e *.*.ill see that this

ini:g :L i'-i.c o p-rocess is, in those workss all to the gcod---it

enables t':.'o disparate but essential sets of huin.-a, po..'ers

(CLo-on and Lntuition; inLeliectual and acti'.'e o.r,;-s) to

:become uriLted so as to create a ne..' and fully larmoni.oed

cntit."'. o the entire range of human actLivit:. .d

.in ", 'il lia,-,. ":ilson," it was clear I-hat nadr.cs .:Ind death (.-:ji

result if l' Zc..'ers are not united and ba.-ilan:c.-J ;lthin a

single nind. But here, this fusion is only of that destruc-

tive power of frenzied passion which both Roderick and the

narrator are prey to. The overt madness of the one only

intensiifies the latent madness of the other. The narrator's

reason and strength are too fragile to adequately confront

Roder ic's man la. He becomes just one more element within

Roderick's veracious consciousness; like Madeline and the

house itself, he ends as no nmre than a m.ree extension of

the master's madness, a victim of spiritual vampirism. So

both of them alone together, as one distended and chaotic

entity, pore over Usher's ;orlumes of superstitious, fantastic

Ic'. ?. -;.'-r 'he'y b.ur;.' ilac.line beneath the hous .. A d

. -.;cil,-, caught' it t-he dominion of terror and hysteria,

t...c-y ;-.- 1' che return cf ..hat they imagine to he ~Iadeline

c:me b,:ck for v'enaeaice.

'i.: ,-ide!line comes. After all, how.: could she?

They: h-d buried he'- far below ',I thle earth, in a nearly air-
les,- chdr.::Cr, :,ehnJ.nd a "i.assive ironi"- iCicori.n c ffin

'.,.hose top they. had tightly sc.ce':ed into place, and all had

been l..:ke'd securely behind tho.m .:hen thoey ].ft. Even if

t',.e had buried her alive, as Roderick belis.evets, she could

.ct. ,.'.~:. ,-ctt(en past such imponderable barrierss No. .od-

erLrek is not ths victim o f his sister's ':.'raSth. Thae only

Lhinj a.:It talks the UiJ.;r man:.ion, scizes its master, :-.nd

'- "j.i- s hi:.L d:..:.n to doom i;s the "terrors he had antici.," _ed"' -

tie te L,.cor.z-: .:hic:h ha'.-e mastered his "'sav'.ior" as '.'ell. ior

'. :.--r.tlor, too, imI-jine he sees the re'i'i.'ifid. d fladeline:

S. tLieL i' d~ srdand The lofty and nshroud-ed figure of

the L.:cvy .ldi l in of UJsher." And '.-ith th?3t u:ttnran!ce, 'he'.'s- :o 13s io'..' cc plete ly sroth-e-:red-i-R--lerick's

o.l. Lit-- F.E. rick .e h--.s f ll ein prost :at, t t, t he mianima

* d.IC .r.e..: ic te ro r .nd i o both of

th .3s *'.:'. f !1 'ii i fi.s t to rthe rh ,ia.m.a ( the ohysical

ri '.n3 of .'i ph !'.ta, :...s ) .and tlh,.? e fall under the- s'.-ay

( if 'he :.:ci" of ,:a.deline, '..'hi h is i-th ..iLtir.ate di: 1.i la-

tic of t.e-i :, ln:.i;-. In th -:ar- for Eo.:e ick .:;oul '..;nged

LeLt'-.!:- ..l-.;, l:,' '.. ,:...j ;:.- for;cm s r>rc.- :-.'s .-, e..'. b .- this 3 pock ,

Lhe hero net only' loses his friend to her but hi:m:-elf as

'.*;ell---losing by the mere ackno,.wl..edgment of her e:xistece.

iiis subsequent "escape" from the holocaust; t is utterly mean-

ingless because he has, already, lost e'.erlything (mind,

integrity, freedom) that was :w.orh keepingJ.

Just as Poe displays the triumphs as '..ell as the fail-

trees in his Hero's struggles for survival, so too does he

record his final cr;ue st of i illusion. Oddly enough, it

comes in a '.ery ea-ly story, "l;in- Pest." ILs tone is uneven

(ranging between bu-rlesque, LteLr, and black .hu-ir), and

some of its do-ails -ire uncontrolled; vyt the si:: ry presents

one of the heartiest affirmations in all. of Poe's fiction.

Its protagonists are tw'o drunken sailors '..who, in flight

from their landlad', escape in the London niigi.t by clan,':eCring

iito .a reoi.'n of to'..n which has been abandoned because of the

-laIue. in an uinde-rt.-ker's shop, they' find si:x grctesque,

c'.i:.ken souls '.:hose leader claims the title of '" ing P:!st."

Sentenced co be drow-.'ned ii. a hogshead o'f beer for refusing

co npay' : .;h ;.i.ince to tiis "lKir. g," t :he t:.o sailors, instead,

ki ll the foir male [Pe tLs and, :.'ith them "the t.;o

,ma.le- o- the c atin, they rn LfuL their :-hi-p, tlh "Free and


Poe calls this story a "Tale Containing an Allegory"--

which at first would seem to be just another of his little

jokes. But, though it is not entirely consistent, there is

an allegory here, and it is worked out with care and skill.

To 7ee tho :.'ea I c. int: of Jhe allegory, ,'.e must r,-co.nize

that,.:while "ring Pest" appears on the surface to be a!lother

of Poe's surrealistic portrayals of drink-insptred halluci-

nation (e.g., ".Angel of the Odd," "Eon-Eon,' and "Shadow"),

or another of his setmi-cautionary tales about the dangers

of w'.ine or opium (e.g., "William Wilson," "Ligeia," and

"The Black Cat"), it is not fundamentally concerned with all

that here. Even though its t-;o heroes and six villains are

more or less drunk throughout the tale, and though it ends

in a gushing flood of beer and rum, "King Pest" at bottom is

concerned with the phantoms whichh spring from a terror-

spl:.laed imagination (as in "The Tell-Tale Heart," "Ligeia,"

"Usher-," and "The Sphin:")---and with ho.: they can be do-

st royed.

.Atri-acted from specific ,l'Ltails, its stricture is a

familiar one, not. only for Poe but for much of Western lit-

er It'-ure. th'le hiecoes journey out of the secure realm of a

,jool kinn (he-e, the monarch .'.;o ],ad placed the dismal

-:; .jle districts "unde.- bain") and invade the aw,.som:- p'O'.ince

of the dark king ,wiho has been terrorizing the neighboring

cr,;nt-ry 'ide, tiha-'e '.o .dc stroy hiim and escape '.-.ith trophies

U- prcof :]i their -.icLcry. This ;as bee-n the king who, in

:.:c., -igqns rot over ihe l.i-.s of the London citizenry

b:it o.'cr- tioir imaginations. For the people fear tw.o differ-

r,- thin..-s tfr.i t-he .'-: regions: the real death and the

.ff j i n .: .ng --:...i h..t they fan,- y to ]-e the origin

.f this cdt h ..ind suffering. These "terror-stricken people"

beli-'ev the plague to arise not from some comprehensible

i.=t-rial cause but from the "Der.,on of Disease" which they

believe. haunts those "d.rk, narrow, and filthy lanes and

allevz" and where no'.. "A'.'e, Terror, and Superstition were

alone to be found stalking abroad." Very few of the popu-

lace ascribed the pillage and robbery in "those horrible

regions to the agency of human hands." Instead,

Pest-spirits, plague-goblins, and fever-demons
were the popular imps of mischief; and tales so
blood-chilling were hourly told, that the whole
mass of forbidden buildings was, at length, en-
veloped in terror as in a shroud, and the plunderer
himself was often scared away by the horrors his
own depredations had created; leaving the entire
vast circuit of prohibited district to gloom, si-
lence, pestilence, and death. (I, 197)

It is these fear-inspired, fanciful delusions with which

King Pest and his court are associated. Though they surround

themselves with skulls, skeletons, shrouds and coffins, and

though they hold court in the cellar of an undertaker's shop,

and though their shrieks sound "fiendish," they are not the

source of the plague and death. They are only drunken im-

pcsters pretending, to Hugh and Legs as well as themselves,

that they have supernatural origins and powers. But the

sturdy, merry Hugh Tarpaulin is able to see the King for

what he really is--"'nobody in the whole world but Tim

Hurlygurly the stage-player.'" And with that, the melee

erupts--and ends with the destruction of these illusion-bred

"demons," the "supernatural" chimeras which spring from an

i nagination which h has become fired by fears of a genuine

threat. Huch and Legs do not destroy Dcath. They defeat

an oppressor whose reign in our minds is nearly as ravag-

ing, as nearly as de.-.tructive of hope or joy- as is Death


There is yet another aspect of this allegory, one which

helps explain w.;hy, as drunk as they are, Hugh and Legs are

capable of penetrating the disguises of the Pests and de-

stroying then. The story '..'as published in 1:`35, early in

Foe's career. Bu t he had already experimented with tech-

niques to evoke the split and sundered consciousness (though

not '.very successfully, as witness the awful ",et zenger ..ein"

and "Loss of Breath"). But here he is more successful.

Hughi and Legs can be understood as the two halves of a

single, functioning personality, the gifts or abilities of

one complementing and completing those of the other (as the

capacities of Usher and his friend do not). Legs is tall,

em:--miated, and, "although tinged with a species of dogled

,idi f fer.:-nce to nma ters arid things in general, w as not the

icss. ui:terly solemn and serious. .. Hugh is squat,

stunby and nerry; his lips suggest "an ai.r of complacent

self-satisfaction, but he regards his inseparable comripanion

"'.'ith a feeling; half-.-onct.ous, half-quizzical." Legs' rather

abstz.cte.d j.intellince, a'id perhaps :iis astonishment at

bchol ding in Kin.: Prs "a figures more emacit:te'i Lhan himself,"

leads him to -jcce-pt the royal pretens ions of the Pests at

face value. It is "the acute Tarpaulin" w.ho must e::pose

them. But he in turn must be saved from being drowned in

the barrel of ale by Legs 'who, once the truth is out, springs

into forceful action n and rescues them both. Neither of them

alone could ha.e sur:i.'ed this excursion into the under-

world. Only w.hen the', both use their own particular gifts,

and come together as one, can they emerge triumphant.

In a grotesque parody of the theme of split personality,

the six Pests also seem to be only different elements of a

single personality, each of them marked by a particular and

different physiognomical feature. The King, appropriately,

displays an "unusually and hideously lofty forehead"; the

Queen, an enormous mouth; and the others, respectively, a

long, sinuous nose, flapping cheeks, wind-blown ears, and

"huge goggle eyes." Except for the bellowing cheeks, each

of these grossly exaggerated features is an element in the

sensory network, and it is possible that Poe is rather

heavy-handedly burlesquing the Lockean man, or else diag-

nosing in the Pests the same, maddening hypertrophy of the

senses which afflicts Roderick Usher and the narrator of

"Tell-Tale Heart." At any rate, the fact that each of these

features is made ugly and distorted via examreration once

again reflects Poe's belief in the absolute need for har-

mony and balance in the entire mental system. When one

element is allowed to expand and feed on the others, the

fragile balance is destroyed. And here, when such a

*.iolentl. distended entity encounters one (H1ugh-Legs) whhich

is able to marshal up all of its forces with directness and

resolution, it '..ill be destroyed.

Thus the allegorical battle in "King Fest" is between

o,ne hero, tha champion of true sight, and one enemy, the

monarch of delusion. Because the hero is blessed .:ith the

power w.,hich comes from a harmonious integration of self, he

is able to destroy the fragmented and chaotic reign of his

eneiimy and return to the kingdom with news that may Dllow the

people more rest and peace than their ter.cor-splayed hearts

had allowed chem up to then.


The Hero, as ':-e have described him, has by nc.-; achieved that

full power which h he needs for -..ordly dominion. He is ready,

this detectiv.e-knight w'ho is to be called Dupin, to face the

last of his preparatory tasks: the riddling out of the actu-

ality of earthly existence. For Foe dces not believe that

"the only reality is mind" (Davidson, 205). Rather, he be-

lieves fi.iimly ':hat there is a .wor:id( outside of our minds,

and though "-i-:te:-ial ph.-aenomiiena are merely spiritual shadows,"

they are "ns 1 the less thoroughlly suLbstantial" (Harrison,

XVI, 151). But the tz-uth of this- world is as hard to accept

and as a.i.'fl in its cDIns,-qu,_nces and effects on us as the

illusi.cs of .sth t:Le ph.ntor.s and the plague ,.;which

evo' 'em can kill ., The 'ho.-; L1 and the miasma eacn can

p-oison us. The weakness, instability, pride, and lusts of

the human mind and heart are not illusions, though they are

ir.deed deadly. Crime, disease, poverty, and hatred do

stalk the earth.

Yet, paradoxically, all of this chaos and horror is

not the only truth. Somehow it must be reconciled, Poe

understands, with the other truth, that, even amid our own

and the world's pain and evil, we are not only mere creations

of a God but that we and "All created things are but the

thoughts of God." Each object in the world is an incarnation

of "the divine mind" (II, 547); and we men are but "infinite

Individuations" of that Godhead which is within and around

us and whose thought propels the Cosmos (Harrison, XVI, 154).

But if this is true, that not only are we made by, but

made of, the substance of a good God, then how can we account

for the agony and evil of this earth? What Poe came to be--

lieve, and to express in "Mesmeric Revelation" and Eureka,

is that this earthly life of mutability, loss and suffering

fits into the Divine plan by its being "preparatory" for

future joy (in which we shall be reunited with the Godhead,

free of the trap of corporeality). Our material existence

forces upon us the anguish which shall, in comparison with

heavenly joy, make that joy all the more intense: for

. . pleasure, in all cases, is but the contrast of pain.

The pain of the primitive life of Earth is the sole

basis of the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven." Poe's

Gcd :with whom we once ..-ere one diffused Himself out into

corporeal incarnations in order, purposefully, to limit

Himself and thereby, through the suffering that this would

entail for Him (us), make His (our) joy all the greater

..when the universe is again cont raced back into undiffused


Thus, in its being a necessary prelude to irrumortal joy,

there is meaning and purpose in the sufferings we undergo

here on earth. But if this life is so squalid, and that

future life so joyous, why should Poe's Hero (the man who is

so e:x:quisitely sensiti-ve to boti pain and joy) not just im-

molate himself, and leap precipitately out and away, forever-

free, in-o the heavens? The answer is that, as ...e have al-

ready a:mply cbser'ed, the Hero has a sacred obligation which

ties him here. He riust bring his vision of the ultimate

beauty of eternal life to the rest of humanity, enabling all

men to see and feel i-t .:ith him and to wait calr;l,. for its

coring. But does this visionary have any1 other, any prior

obligations? E.-.cept for relaying to us the effect of his

vision, does 'e lav. any other concern .with our dark affairs,

w.:ith the railed and blrody realm tnat rages around us? If

]his ultir.,at.e quest i. for that Unity and joy ..'.hich exists

beyond the '-.orld of s;is.atFion, why should he everr ve.:crt his

atten.:ion ':c cur world? -hat!: can he, that c.r. we, .gain from

what w..iuld .eem to be a wasting and ,..arping of. his precious

gifts? Tn short, why does Po-e :lo'. DLpi to interrupt his

Jdreams in order to champion our cause in the battle with


That the little Parisian aristocrat is indeed what Poe

felt the true, principled artist must be is quite clear. A

.nan of "rich ideality" and of a "vivid freshness" of imagi-

n.ation, Dupin has renounced all the materialistic roads to

financial success for a semi-isolated life of reveries, bro-

ken only, he reveals in "The Purloined Letter," by the writ-

ing of poetry. He and his nameless friend lock themselves

in a secluded, ruined, "time-eaten and grotesque mansion"

in a "retired and desolate portion" of the city. There, as

sleep-wakers in the hynagogic state, they cloak themselves

behind heavy curtains, their rooms lit only by tapers, while

they "busied" their "souls in dreams" and "slumbered tran-

quilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into


All of this might suggest that Dupin and friend are en-

gaging in precisely the same isolated egoism as Usher,

Prospero, and Ligeia's lover. But there are significant

differences between those madmen and Dupin. For instance,

the detective does not bring on his reveries by drink or

dope or by immersing himself in a diseased art-world. Dupin

ignores the "superstitions" of the populace which have

caused his neighborhood to become deserted. Dupin not only

leaves his domain (albeit at night), but also remains aware

of the events in the outside world, even maintaining an

acquainta:-ceship '.:.ich the Queen and her treacherous Minis-

ter D--.

He is indeed out of this world; yet he has not severed

his ties to it complei-ely, not locked himself forever in

his visions, not forgotten the need to evoke through art

the effects :'f his dreams, not lost the ability to ire.jognize

that his gifts and temperament can be easily twisted (as

Dupin sees that the :-inister D--has twisted his). Dupin's

has become "a properly regulated intellect," which responds

eagerly to novel effects and whichc h prevents him fro.'i abusing

either the purposes or the means of hi.s gift: "There ,.:'as not

a particle of charl.atalerie about Dupin," nor any of the

obsessive, murderous, maddening egoism of so many of Poe's

other artists. As the e::emplary gen-ius and -. ision.D-'-,y, Dupin

is indeed, cas i'iany, readers Iha'.'e noted, truly "god-like"

(-Ji.lbu,-, 330) --both in his gifus and in his syal'i'.ic role in

the ev'.oo.tion of hi.rman destiny.

But :.'.-en he functions as the master sleuth, solving

hse mu .i ers and thefts, Du-;;in is not acting c-s the arList.

For insta.e, his friend says that, after he had sol'.ed the

Plue florgi.'e 2..:e, Dupin "dismi-ssd the f.fiair at on-ce from

inis a.lti:ention, and relapsed into his old habits of moody

re'. ry, bor.l c them. L-ceturning to these -dream ..T'hich were

thsit_ p:rop;r, and -priImairy business. Iot c'' does Du n .:nter-

rurt his dr.-ams, but he puts a'way-e,te, the spific gifts,

th3.ze of intuition and Tas.-te b-' \,hi. h h? asceInds to, those

Gre-'-. For one thing, he could not use those powers to

oenrerate the workings of the mortal and material realm be-

cause, by very definition, matter is wholly resistant to

such penetration. Through Taste the artist can perceive,

directly, intuitively, a-sensually, man's ultimate origin

and destiny. But this same gift cannot function in this

present world in which God's life is diffused and incorpo-

rated throughout the grossly material universe. To come to

a comprehension of the mysteries and conundrums of this

sense-bound realm, one cannot rely on holistic awareness of

poetic intuition (nor, as Dupin asserts more than once, can

one rely on the axiomatic, deductive methods of mathematics

for such knowledge). Instead, what is called for is analy-

sis, an epistemological methodology which seems to be mira-

culous and "praeternatural," and which appears to have about

it "the whole air of intuition." But Dupin's "apparently

intuitive perception" is so only to "the ordinary apprehen-

sion," whereas someone who truly understands his mode of

operation as detective sees that its results are "brought

about by the very soul and essence of method." Wheareas the

poet's intuition grasps Unity, analytical method is "that

moral activity which disentangles." qWhereas intuition is,

more or less, a "creative" power, analysis is resolventt."

Wheareas intuitive vision is a-sensual and a-rational analy-

sis is entirely and solely a train of reasoning. Analysis

functions not in the experience of intuitive vision but in

the .: ibs-:e.uen't activity of the Imaain:i.tion .':ich for Poo

*.*.'as the mealins bcy ...hich the artist, having already experi-

enced his vision, tEen tried to find 9nd combine images in

his art which would d provoke an effect analogo;us to that

.which he had felt in his re'.ery (Jacobs, 367-75): and "the

trul: imnainati've [is] never othe-rw.ise than analytic."

Fi'i lly, analysis is the mental resource which the critic

must ma.'e use of :.'hen exploring the constituent elements of

an art-'.-;or including the art-'.-;ork ...'hIich is the universe,

and all prior productions of artistic genius.

But if anal-ysis is not intuition, how does it operate?

Essentially its object is to discover the perspective from

w..'hich cne can see the unique nov.el't of e.acl particular

case' "In in'.esti ga tions sich as '.-.'e are no'.: -,, it

sh!ic. l.i net be so much asked ''.-:hat has occurred, as '.'hat

has occucer.e that has never occurred before.'" Biut to find

this novel e-lement, one must know, from where to look fc.Lr .t--

hnT, far or near, ho:'. deeu or shallow.. Lo be in relation to

the elem t. To di .over tile proper pe.crspecti'.'e, on.e must

be: r,-morsof'llv, perserv~i.eingly logical in sifting through

all tihe dat.. of the case, not disc)uni.Lng .even :-,hat would d

a .,rear to be "collateral or cii'.u triistantial eIents," p u.suing

thIe o:f one' inductions. e-.en if they appear to lead

:o a,,T-;]r-;-n .LI imTpc-ssIble conclusions. Anrd ;:h in'duti'-*rns

;ust .'- r. 're ':ed .nd then [ollor..'ed by, '.erJ.fieJ by, obser-

''iitici s '- .c' re ch ri e by acur.n ~- logically-

,dir:ec.ied pursuit) :rather than by i-e "unri in: ipled," random

att n-tiveness of the dull police.

One must then combine the results of induction and ob-

ser:.-ation in order to identify one's mind with the mind of

another (the villain or victim) or to "transport" oneself

"in fancy" to another place--this in a process which Upham

and other psychologists called "sympathetic imitation."

But this procedure is not a blind, intuitive leap out of

oneself. Rather, Dupin can only imagine himself into the

minds of the French sailor or Marie Roget or the Minister

D-- after a discriminating collection and a logical analysis

of data about their personalities, history, and surroundings.

In his trances, Dupin does not suddenly, immediately,

a priori, uncover who the villain is, but who, given all the

facts, he must be. In those flights of his, Dupin does not

find a personality and then proceed to deduce what he did.

Rather, he works from his analysis of facts to that one,

single individual who alone could be the culprit.

becausee he follows this rigorous train of observation,

rinduct-ion, and identification, Dupin is able to keep "sight

of the matter as a whole," to see it in all of its compli- and not become swamped in a mire of detail. Failure

to do this J.s why the dim-witted police can never solve

these unusual and novel cases which Dupin thrives on. It

is also the failure of the protagonist in "The Sphinx," who,

because he is so close to the spider, mistakes it for a

huge .-monster. Indeed, nearly all of Poe's duped narrators

are toc close-.-both [:h: sical I and psychohlogjically--to

monsters and phantom;s they are ;:trying to fathom. 'ind also,

they (and the police) fail because, unlike Cupin, they are

only cunning, not profound. For instance, in the police

Prefact's "-.isdom is no stamrcn. It is all head and no body

S. ---or, a best, all head and shoulders, like a codfish."

But Dupin makes use of all his pow-:ers and e:-;pearince, all of

his insights cnd cbserv'a.tions .bout mankind, 11. of the

forms of reasoning--all of his regulated and balanced self

in the ser.'ice of his one goal as a e'tecti.e, '-:hich "is

only the trnL.h" (.-a distinct from the Feaut, which, as an

arist-visiona-ry, is his ulti-na:ce object).

If, then, his goal (of truth) and the means he emn:;loys

in Lts discover: (anal,.'is) are nr.ether Lthe end nor the

means he seek.s and .:os as an ati:-t, h;.. does Dup in bother

'.w.'ith it? Why. come do'.;n and out of his dreams to immerse

hiirse lf in the tri-ial and squalid crimes with w'-hich earthly

lie is so encu- .ib.)er1 ? AL filt, he admits that he dons

the cloak of the sleuth merely becausi.e .n inquiryy will

.afford us amnusemeit." Yt is a divers icn, .i amustLg game

for iir:, r-sp,.cial.-y wrer.n he ca.n de fe: t L:: Ps.:fecch "in h-is

c'..n c'L ..C;s -, at his c:-:n tr.ade. In other .:;- he ,-ijoys

th-e 3emiT-di 'ino h!autieur which qr-.atifi-es itse ;f in perf'orrning

.-.'hat the :olice and cr-.e popul.ace think cf as .-. ri. a.cles, as

pr..:. r.n t' l s1 lei.ght -' f ind. lo'. '.'ev e, in "Ti e Pu.a.c.ined

L.:c'. i:: t" 'r- L.a -.t f the three D,.pin tal ls, e re'.'cal. a

, or his inter'.en tion in earthly affairs which reflects

a growth in his (and perhaps Poe's) awareness of the need

the .world has of Ihinm. First, he wants to revenge himself

on the 1Minister D-- because of the "evil turn" which the

latter had once done him at Vienna. But he also pursues

his alter ego, the Minister, who, like Dupin, is a poet and

genius, because D--twists and perverts his gifts for per-

sonal power and greed. lie has thereby become what Dupin

calls "that Tmonstrum horreindiim, an unprincipled man of

genius," an affront to all that Dupin embodies. Dupin must

destroy ltinm for much Lthe same reason as, in the Christian

myth, Michael must destroy the rebellious Lucifer--to purge

and punish the who would otherwise ravage the integ-

rity and thie '.oals of his blessed station. Beyond even this,

Dupin erLbarks on at least this third voyage in order to re-

store order and stability to the French kingdom. After he

has retrieved the letter and gotten it back to the Queen, he

explains his motives to his friend and faithful auditor:

You know my political prepossessions. In this
matter I act as a partisan of the lady concerned.
For eighteen months the Minister has had her in
hLs power. She has now him in hers--since, being
unaware that the letter is not in his possession,
he will proceed with his exactions as if it was.
Thus will he inevitably commit himself, at once,
to his political destruction. (II, 607)

We -wat-ch Dupin, then, amusing himself with his "games,"

purifying the legion of which he is a member, and bringing

harmony to a distressed people. This alone would justify

his friend's replacing his original title, "Monsieur" Dupin,

with tl-e more kInightly and glorious title, "the Chevalier"

Dupin. Eut, in his operations as a detective, Dupin's

effect strikes even deeper than this. For Dupin-as-sleuth

is ready'ing the world for Dupin-as-artist. Ir. his abundant

resori.-ce fiulness, integrity, and balance of mind, in his

demonstrations of order where only' anarchy had seemnei to

prevail, he prepares us to belie'.e that at least a few men

m-,.y have the strength and genius to attain to a vision of

the :.ntiire cosmos .-' A'iay itself prove co be ordered and

meaningful. And, too, he not only affects our beliefs about

the potential of man's mind and the workings of the universe.

For in the very process of bir.ging us this ne'.-' visionn of

ourselves and the w:.'orld, he affects in us a calming of our

nerves, a quelling of our fears, a creation or a restoration

of the harmonious balance of powers which .we shall need if

\.Le ire to accept and feel that Beaut'y v'hich hIe h-as grasped

;cl'.y by .luelling the panic and despair i.:tthin himself. I .

;,atchlin Dupin solve a heinous and fearsome crime, showing

that even it is not without a fatlhomiable meaning, '..: begin

to see ho':. much else he ;night bring us. and ho'... much more .-we

might, ourselves, see and do.

In his incarnation as Detective, Poe's iTro is, then,

a witness, on a small scale, to cosmic unity and Furpose;

a riracl.--.*.orker, displayinrlg his smaller gifts so that we

iilht hr-lie ve in h.j2 ul tirm. t n..i gifDts; a physician,

he:-..1 -i ou'r i r ts i .'' h t i.i:.0 i t ne m ,d: ',..'ho1.e ,-nd ready

,nd receptive of the fruits of his impending flight; and,

finally., he is a prophet, crying in the dark wilderness of

the city, preaching his o..'n, immrinent and final incarnation--

as the Ilessiah himself, the Prorethean ''ision.ry \whose Eye

is to be the medium by which w,'e may yet be saved.


1 "The 'Legitimate Sources' of Terror in 'The Fall of the
House of Usher,'' ilodern Language Pe ''.' LXI (October,
1966), 539-92.

2 It is interesting that on the following page, Upham re-
counts the case of a '..'oman w.ho cried to quiet, but only
killed, a terrified youth. She had attempted to quell his
fear by placing before him "the image of some frightful
o]je-ct" (I, 411) which had so greatly excited him that he
had gone mrad and finally died. This instance of failed
smrpatheti: magic is not unlike, both in aim and dire effect,
the narrator's foolish attempt, at the end of 'Usher," to
calm Roderick's fears by reading him the fearful tale of the
knight and dragon---a tale .-.hich only hastens their collapse
into hyv.-teria.

3 I am aware that this is distinctly a minority vie'.., that
the critical consensus is that, as ros ook and Warren say in
LUnderstanding Fic.-ion (le'.; York: F. S. Crofts: 143) 203,
"The store is ob.iously [.codcri:k's ]' and that he 'is the
drtimatic center of the sttory," az i-lauricea eece assorcts in
"Ti-lh Fall of the House of Py'nchecn," nineteenth Century
Fiction MI (Jiine, 1956), -. There is at least one study,
though, which e:-xhausti'.',--ly explores the piv'.otal rol of the
..rr.tor,, Janims W. Kirikland, "tarrati-.e Procedure in 'The
Fall of tIhe HIi.tse of Us!her, aster''s Thesis, Uni'.'ersi ty
of Flcri-di-i, 19635.

4 V.ide iobecl Daniel, "Foe's God," Furios-o VI
'Suirm'r 19'51) '45-51-; and Pi chard Wilbur, Introdtuction"
;: PRo in Mlajoi : W:riters Lf .-merica, e':. Percy Miller (ile
Yok'.: 'ir..curt,Brace and Wotld, '1962) I, 369--32.



We h'.c-e fo] lnc;. the Hlro's ascent. ro the.? "eryr

th :li')l.l of hc Lates of visi ron '.101a:ched : '..i 1 lunj.'- a:jain

and i-aiin .into ;th. de ipths of -.mL sel :f ;ndi th :*.-.':t rld whichic h

sc.:t to :slav him. gaining as h .-.cnt the s::rncrgth aid

ono .r to to r-to come y CC.O to a s'ynui.etL- and

c..L;.'- ic ---a et li. gj, a .- fr nii-.g --of spir-it anii ti 'ce co

th'.@ .C 7rg .-"-t. i a..C d"'ii.'.io e.'r. the ,..'(or'd ;e ,as c-,-e to save.

.?.c 'I' a: so L0 :.*'onl i.-, tiCe ..'i-.' '.'ich s :e ful fl e'-or--

i;.' ..L I. .ou" .o and t: 'ad Last ho e Ic has been .c-r '.m

a v'oyaqe b':-..i piaLive and in.tgra~ive, and that has

be'n intended :r us, his witnesses, to be exemplary and

arob l.emtic of theo voyage each of us must undertdke if we are

to oren to t:'e full.ess of our.: own cifts.

And yet, even in the face of the sunburst itself, the

ier s -til mii'iut learn once acr.ain of the resources he must

gather id those he must abandon for the last stage of his

as'..ent. .In ,"s. Found in a .ottle" and "MPorlla," we will.

observe him in po:3'.:esion of many of the same capacities as

Dupin evidenced in his role as detective. EBu in these two

:taos, he seems to have lost sight of his ultimate goal and

the fac- thaIat his Ricaison is only a means to kncwledge of the


i.inst&le c, .'CIr. of flu: and materiality, that it is incapa-

ble1 of bear.inD him on to that ultimate vision of Unity and

spirit -nnd that to rest solely in Reason is to wreck the

strength it took to attain it.


Te st.ry which "Morella's" narrator tells is concerned

exclusively :.'ith the effects on his scul of the lovely and

brilliant i-iorella and her equally gifted daughter. He be-

gin.s by describing the nature of the "dcep yet singular

affection" he bore towa..rd ,orella. Gifted with "gigaaic"

po'. (ers; ofi miind and a richly musical voice, she guides him,

as her], into theft "forbidden pages" of the German

Romantic: (i;:hte, Schelling) and the Greek Idealists (Pla--

-o:, Pyth-a,;.rs). 'Clearly, Morella is not only his. guide

into the r.:. l.rms of tLansc:o.d',nt-lisl and i.he mysteries of

the occur. l..t: sh.2 is tiLe very emboh imienit of tem. Even so,

the na,--atC,-, hoLds to his first and abiding allegiance to

Lockean. pchoL ogy and onLologcy, and, though he does love

L.or,:-L : d.:eeply, h!e sets up against the mystical

"One-nss''" of t:.e Ideal ists. But as she persists in leading

hin J. "-: per d a -c-eper into the mysterie of spiritualism,

the un'si of -.c :.'ci>ce" begins to t ake on for him thei. taint

o: taertr: "tleL-e fell a shadow upon my soul, and I grew

pacIn, c:ad, shuddered .i nwardl.y .at those tco uncarthly tones."

Sc.r:, h '5-ys, "the- .ystey; of ny '-ife's imnner oppressed

mTT,- as a spell, I could bear no longer . the lustre of

he :i melancholy eyes." And his own repulsion evidently brings

her to the deathbed which, with the "heart of a fiend," he

has wished her. But his horror is only made more intense by

their daughter who, born at Morella's death, grows increas-

ingly to resemble her mother in every way. WIhen she, too,

dies, he bears her to her mother's tomb--in which he found

"no traces of the first .. where I laid the second--

More 11a."

Damned by his own terror of the fearsome yet thrilling

visions she offers him, doubly damned by confirmation of her

visions in their daughter, the narrator, locked into his

cold, orderly world of sensation and reason, does not see

in time the fate his fears would lead him to. At the end,

he has only his memory of those dim, enchanted vistas--but

they will remain for him always in the past. Ironically,

lie is also lost to his own chosen realm of material reality

and common sense:

.. the hemlock and the cypress overshadowed me
night and day. And I kept no reckoning of time of
place, and the stars of my fate faded from heaven,
and therefore the earth grew dark, and its figures
passed by me like fliting shadows. . (I, 156)

Wandering in limbo, lost to heaven and to earth, his is a

destiny forged by allowing fear to smother his capacity for

perceiving the Beauty which lies beyond the mortal world of

sense and sensation.

More fortunate is his counterpart in "!Is. Found in a

.ottle." another mian of Reason who embarks on what is clearly

a ioa:nrno' to the realm of Spirit but .-who does manage to at-

Lain: what he so desperately, needs in that realm, the Roei's

way of seeing. He describes himself in the beginning as a

man so dc.vo-ted to the methodology of scientific reason that

to. hi.. "the cev-eries of fancy have been a dead letter and

a nullity." His x::tensive reading in those '. ry German

idealists ..:l.ich l0ore1-lja led her lover to is used by, this man

cnl'. a a m:arns to refine and e::ercise his methodical "habits

of i rid tChou ht" which enable him easily to "detect their

fal.sities." He is so utterl-y a man of reason that he has

often been "reproached '. 'ith the aridity of my gcaniius, "a

rd.ficiency of imagination." and the "P'rrlhonism of Fry opin-

i.onY." e ohas^,he claims, e:.plained by the pLrinciples of

"ul'ysical science" oe.'en those events ..Jhich are "least suscep-

ti.ble" to -.uch an .r nal,'sis.

,Clea l: ., the "reason" he is so devoted to is not '.-.'ha

W. <. In:lje cal.s "the logic of the whole personality, but

i'-tead thatt -.hIallow.. rationalism whichc h regaarcds the data on

w'l-,ich '..: can re.scn as a fi:.:ed quantity, kno:v;n to all., and

..'hichl bajse-3 itself on a formal logic, utterly unsuited to a

i ts p coi.'-al so di- .Ltinfua gs.

".'at Poe :ocs 'diI- this f-Ec less, stoli., utte -rl. re.a-

s 1n able sc=_ntist i.s tlirow himni not at the iim but into the

..-'c ce:.i-er -Lf a cit.-i-lySm '.-hich can be understood and .DC-

c-:.--:c c:\ th L''i.;h that po'.wer of ...'ild intuition which he

Il:S ScoZnr.21 so disdain t full'. -, r1c-;,I all,:'..3 1.iSr, tc 3s.cap

hifs symbol-ride to doom. But he does have the chance to

open himself to its full meaning by surrendering to full

sight, and hence receive the joy and awe which flows from it.

Nearly from the beginning it is clear to us, if not to him,

that his voyage is to that final "grasp of the whirlpool"

at the end. But we are also aware that there is something

uncommonly strange and eerie about the ship, Discovery, on

which he is thrown. Its ancient, decrepit passengers; the

"mouldering instruments of science" and the "decayed charts

of navigation" strewn on the deck; the aged passenger whose

"manner was a wild mixture of the peevishness of second

childhood, and the solemn dignity of a God"; the awesome

Captain of singular expression whose "gray hairs are records

of the past," whose "grayer eyes are sybils of the future,"

and whose commission "bore the signature of the monarch"--

all these signs show us clearly where the narrator is and

what is happening to him. He is being borne to a new, wild

world outside our own.

What makes this voyage so puzzling to him is that at

first he is incapable of seeing it for what it is. The man

of rarefied intelligence and disembodied analysis, a man who

has rejected the powers of imagination and taste, cannot ap-

prehend the joy of an experience which is utterly "novel,"

awesome, wonderful, "singular," and "ineffable"--indeed, an

experience which can be described only in these terms derived

from Poe's (and before him Burke's, Kames' and Blair's)

theories of aesthetics whichic h a*lianed' bcauty with sublimity

and terror.

But as the story progresses, as the familiar, rational

world becomes less ar.d less :.visible through the bizarre

-whirl. of new sensations, the narrator is forced to express

such decidedly non-scientific thoughts as these: "By what

miracle' I escaped, it is i.n:possibie to say"; he sees moun-

tainous '..'aves '..hich are "beyond the '..'ildest imagination";

hi. .soul b comes "'..'rapt in silent wcndrer" at all that is

happening; he f:els that "w''e w..ere not instantly buried is a

miracle"; and it is "a miracle of Iiracles" that the huge

death-ship does not crack 3:nid go under. He is obi'.i.cus ly

beginning to see that perhaps aill phenomena are not readily

referrable to natural, physical causes. nd he does not en-

tirely like it:

feeling, for '...hich I have no nainm has taken
possession of my soul--a sensation '..hich '..ill
admit of no analysis, to ..'hich the lessons of
by-gcne time are ir.adequate, and for '..:hich I
fear futtli-rity itself ':ill offer me no key. To
a mid cons LitutC-d like my o'..'n, the latter con-
sid'-:caLion is an e-vil. I shall ne.-er--I know.
thht I shall :le'.er--be satisfied with regard to
the naciure o f i.ty conic-eptions. Y'et it is not won-
dcLtIJl that these conceptions are indefinite, since
th1:-'- ha,-,i their origin in sources so utterly no'el.
A n,'e'. ense-a new..' entity is added to ni' soul.
(", 1 33; :. i talics)

.'t the :-..e Lir.e that his miniLd rage.s to and fro betw-.'een

Lt. forTr rtelia;nca on pure reason ar.d his gro'.-.i"ng acceptance

of Th .1.s "nc'..' e-ritity" of i:lagj.nation, hi.s iniotions are also

t.oLss h b ck. anid fourth, .:.ngirK front, .:-Ewo, '.:'ond:r, and

reverence toward what he sees and terror and despair toward

it. Finally, his new, intuitive understanding of this ex-

perience enables him to join the other passengers who face

their fate more with "the eagerness of hope" than with "the

apathy of despair." Accepting the utter, miraculous novelty

and even the terror of his ordeal, he attains a state of

calm and eager anticipation:

To conceive the horror of my sensations, is, I
presume, utterly impossible; yet a curiosity to
penetrate the mysteries of these awful regions,
predominates even over my despair, and will rec-
oncile me to the most hideous aspect of death.
It is evident that we are hurrying onward to some
exciting knowledge--some never-to-be-imparted
secret, whose attainment is destruction. Perhaps
this current leads us to the southern pole itself.
It must be confessed that a supposition apparently
so wild has every probability in its favor . .
(I, 135-36)

Thus he does open himself to the "wild" world which his

imagination has finally allowed him to accept. He triumphs.

He ignores the horror, forces his curiosity to quell his

despair, calmly accepts what must quickly come, and gives

his intuition freedom to run to Beauty no matter how unten-

able it may seem to cold reason. He can face it now, a man

fuliy capable of perceiving that ultimate beauty and truth

available only through all of man's powers if they are alive,

alert, and functioning as one. His final cry, then, ("the

ship is quivering--oh God! and--going down!") is not the

pitiful shriek of the dupes and murderers and madmen who

stalk c'.-ber Poe stories; Instead, it is a cry of revelation,

as if in response to his companion, the old Swede, who, at

.L._': .--, o t.. death .-.J: p .io'.' er.ig io'v. -har'i, had

Cl i=sd out :o him, "' See see! . Alr.ight'y God' see!

-s2.'" A-.. to God ar.d doom' doi- he gocs in glory.


Foe':: rst exh-austive record of his Hero's flight to

is:'.on is ; s no-.vel, '!The iarrati'.'e of -Arthur Goridon Pyrm of

,ant-.-ce.,et. 'hough routh and nI:even, apparently split into

t.:o I srgLe L racn1ns which do not seem tc hold together, tLhe

no2',.- .o r airnt-ain unit'- if read as theo :atu.tration of

it ., : roi.-:) c.llow v': Cuh to a "'ise 1n in"hood in .which he is

fir.- La y r, .rep -r-d to .e.- .and -i:ccpt chle Iaun ti- ki-cr,.l:a of

:. t :.. :..' ch i '-.. h ,e :2s. dll o\ng, 'h~ 1 -a: r in. :r, en-

: .[.-: s.-. n it ti: .-. L : n :. 'e:l a3 sc nt r.f the

,;:'o 0 O his ,':2 :' ( 2rr r i'dt.- . i. n ".' isi"!:. :,U "-'.'.L' ,? }' th.: ascent

-:.h .' h --.'? F rc. 3.' th.: s t t..o chant! ''rs. I ts hero

EL .2'- "o uL:.''.e, Lo c u idl: t 'u ior.3 to 'unco' c tlhe

. i 's i.r'' a ... c .- it- r i e c:ntr -.1 'L:t .1n of

C. ,. 0'.. :c.i; h l.t:"L" t.. "'i:i.33.e t lx ', '.c c ..: being

.:' .-2. :: i t 1l i. i on u- I. l Le : rated

( 4- W jn o f ;t : rn.-n .. .. ..*. : -:ht r?) .

;: .: o : f .t to o: .tan. d II-. o.- -fr P.:F Patrick

C, '.-. ass t.; it s h ? o, -.. r ...1se dej : -'.i.h,

ha:- "frm:'i the o .i st een L -::nt ,:n his c.L:. disascer,e and

th ..;;.r:.h :. '.-r f ..:':'2ption.;, 7-.'n "is .:he ch .r,-c ;er to

.. '7 i.:, ;- . .. .. he .3 ,:- i . [h ] is

si.i.LY th. na ra-. r, the -.ctlm, the masochist--and so the

lor-: clearl- r-ecoJJnl.zab!.e as Poe himself" l(Quinn, 197).

Quinn' '.'iew of Pym is in accord with that of John Seelye

..[-3 ris-rtains tnhat despite the "hardships and horrors" that

Pyrm u:id:r-gcces, he. nexer changes or develops; instead, Seelye

ccntj.. ~s, he is (and properly so, as Seelye would have us

und:.s ;'..n.. Poe's concept of fiction) "only the medium of

r.*e.--.- ,'-i!on ni-.d conveyer of sensations a conducting

r-.di um. . a :erceiver on the level of sensation, for

Poc '.: as L,,tcLstLed only in his sensations."

I disagree with the reading of Quinn and Seelye, and

propose that Pym is not a suicidal masochist; and though in

some of the novel he is passive and inactive, the heart of

his story lies in his struggle for power--a struggle which

he most clearly comes to win.

Pym invites us to read his first chapter as an "intro-

duction to a longer and more momentous narrative." But it

turns out to be more than an introduction, it is very nearly

an epitome of that arc of action which is circumscribed

th-rougho'out the first long section of the novel. It is there-

by ,worth detailed attention.

Enticed to the sea by his irresponsible friend, Augustus

Earnard. the young Pym disobeys his rich grandfather and fre-

quently sails off with Augustus on his craft, the Ariel, "on

soc of theme maddest freaks .in the world." And it is the

-,add-st of these which Pym recounts in this opening ch.a-pt.r,

how it was tha;!L, both drunk, they took the boat cut into the

teeth of a ..:.le. W1.nen his fir'ind be'.-c so "thorou;i-, ly in-

s:en-sib]e" l-hat he could rot control the craft, Pym had to Coer. dut he ::as at first "timid and irresolute" and

pau ily:ed -ith fear. Ho.-.'ever, he cronquered his panic, re-

co'.ored his "presencrre Oc mind" and managed to sa'.-e t1-hir

1 i'es.

,;--.corJtirng only its outcome, thiis incident is c7areco

of the cti.o. i the rest of the novel. Here, in the first

ciaptar, F'vn forsakes his siubmissi.on to the ordered and

prosparo'; land--..tcrld of' and s'lubmiits instead to the

capri,.:. ad d sa'.'a..,ry of th- sea and its .'ak and unde,:,endable

emissar-v, .....g':tus. What he then is forced to do is somehow'

find the c--.!. c. jurage to save himself and his par.-aly'ed

master. This. he dees. ;id if later ':en rescued by a

,,.-haler ..;u.:t-.i3s a;rn helpe sa'.e the ', ccn:: us Pvm, it is

: '. ;:, nr effect, Pmrn has air ad =.'ved them both.

T'i e :-j:ge. frcn, pa-ss i'.' :. .: hr liner to fo ceeful. corm-

a. :' : i.: f i.-,d s ,f throcg't 1-::I ;'-:he. either an

ernr.-.'-" L-<:&A .er .-_ r-;: i,.,S rev I. compulsive..v: suicid- i Pvm
is de: .: '.ely 1, ..a.-jed in' : sr.r' jle to 1 su.rr-,on ui those in-

teI-'Lt. .' .' e i son, resoli .;ior., .rgd cc i'- j.3 ----... c]. Le d

to Lfr.-.'.1.,.--,- t' o r tc co, a, ::. the [,an'ic nd p ra. s: : mich

lead t., i:. . *' ::nt .an. d -r.::'.'t i n.

:_.7 tH'i-., ...C t e ,-:.-.d :tt: ..-1i i 3 1 d : through

out. ti: '..-.. -.. Eit.' chapters, ,.i: ic:h t 1 Pu n':, ., . .ntu..s. ,

fir st ,ci '-.-- ": -\. :.-, a.rd th,:: on ;J e ,Ti C:3o .

Goon'.: it:.. their a,'vc-nture on the Ariel, Pym again

-t L.s uttel.-i.'y unLder the spell of Augustus' tales of the sea,

SLi!- i ;tir's 2::cited visions having landed on the fertile

S,,:l.d oLf ?"!n's "enthusiastic temperament and somewhat

f;l .*o^ a.1.;huch glo.-'ing imagination," an imagination which

:'.idls hi.ri ,aiv.ely to ,dc, ire "shipwreck and famine . cap-

tiit::y ;ac.n: barbarous hordes "--in short, all the "gray and

'..*-.-.c" T-.s;cts of a sailLr's life. But just as Mcby-

;>.c, l:;-a1el e>.entuailly conquers his propensity toward

..: .--:s JCL- .tion, so '..':.l Pyri learn, through having his

:..l'la:,.; .oli Jreams come all coo true, that they hold promise

:nil' LCi t. u:ile and .'..:ful loss of self and freedom.

Pym runs away from home to join Augustus on the voyage

of the -;.haling ship, Grampus. In stowing away, Pym must

hand his entirely over to Augustus who arranges a hid-

ina lace in., appropriately, a coffin in the dark ma:e of

the hiop's hold. But a..l goes wrong. The crew mutinirs,

'.ill.s' .faher (wiho had been the ship's incompetent

cap-.-in) and nany of their fellows. For days, then, unable

o fin-. hs way out, sightless and alone elow-decks, Pym

imust survive the actual and imagined horrors of his desper-

ate plight. That he dces so, that he ward,_ off his belief

thai- h. is "utterly helpless," that h- finds within himself

the o '- ~eFrs of "Oeliveran-ce and reanimation" and the return

cf his "thinking faculties" is testame.nt to his own. matura-

tion and strength.

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