Essay Poe'S Unity Of Effect

Essay Poe'S Unity Of Effect-41
For Poe, satire could create no sense of the beautiful within the reader.

For Poe, satire could create no sense of the beautiful within the reader.

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As an editor of a magazine, Poe's views on literary criticism were influenced by the nature of the short works of art that would appeal to the magazine-reading public.

But irrespective of his journalistic position, his critical views on the nature of what was and was not acceptable in a work of art have become famous and have had an enormous influence on subsequent writers.

In ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ Poe takes the time to explain step by step the elements that make up a good literary work. This is where the taciturn writer gives us his theory on what literature is and what it does when it achieves what he calls the “unity of effect”.

To illustrate what he means, Poe leads us through his poem ‘The Raven’ (taking for granted that all his readers have read it).

However, as we look at the totality of his creative work, we see that a large portion of his works takes place in a very closed environment.

The following selected examples do not exhaust Poe's use of this principle, but they do give us a good idea of the importance he placed on this device: "The Cask of Amontillado" occurs in an underground, closed vault; "The Pit and the Pendulum" takes place within the closed confines above a pit; "The Fall of the House of Usher" is set in the closed confines of a decaying castle; and the action in the poem "The Raven" takes place within a closed room or possibly, as some say, within the narrator's mind; similarly, the people in "The Masque of the Red Death" are locked behind closed iron gates and confined within a closed castle, "William Wilson" is told within the frenzied mind of a schizophrenic, and the action of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is confined within a closed room.

Anything that appealed solely to the intellect could not be considered art because art existed in the world of the beautiful, the refined, and the aesthetic.

Consequently, Poe, as a Romantic writer, dismissed most of the literary works of the eighteenth century, a period which concerned itself mainly with satire.

One could also point out that Aristotle, the world's most famous critic, lived about 380 B.

C., yet his theories are still valid and provocative and are still discussed, even though few artists and writers today adhere strictly to his critical principles.


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