Theory and practice
Edgar Allen Poe
Aim of knowledge: 1. To make students get to know the masterpieces of Edgar Allen Poe
2. To make students get the general idea about the Poe’s theories on poems and novels and Gothic Novel
Aim of ability: training of the ability to analyze literature with literary theories
Aim of quality: To discuss what is real beauty
Lecture, discussion, PPT presentation
Key points: The Cask of Amontillado, To Helen, The Raven
Different Points: Poe’s theories on poems and novels
教 学 内 容
Step1 Check up Students’ Homework
1) Please give us your opinion and evaluation about Walden.
2) Talk your opinion on American individualism reflected in Self- Reliance
Step2 Brief Introduction
1. Life (1809-1849)
–Born in an actor and actress’s family
– His parents died when he was very young
–Adopted by a Virginia rich businessman John Allan
– Entered the Virginia University at 17
– West Point where he began to write poetry
– Then tales – editor of magazines.
– At 27 he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia who died very young in 1947
A. Novelist, poet, Professional literary critic;
B. Good at writing Gothic and detective fiction, father of western detective stories;
C. Father of psychoanalytic criticism;
E. Advocates for “art for art’s sake” and his aesthetics has influenced French
F. For a long time, he was the most controversial, misunderstood: an evil genius鬼才
– A jingle man ( Emerson)
– His prose unreadable (Mark Twain)
– Enthusiasm for Poe is primitive state of development. (Henry James)
– In Europe Poe enjoyed respect “greatest journalistic critic of his time and his
poetry is refined and his tales are complete works of art” (G.B. Shaw)
Step3 Theories on Literature
І. Theories on Poems
Poems 1. Poems should be short, concise and readable at one sitting;
2. The aim of poem writing is beauty; the most beautiful thing described by a poem is the death of a beautiful woman;
3. the desirable tone of a poem is melancholy;
4. He opposed didactic (教学的,指导的) poems;
5. He stressed the form of poem, esp. the beautiful and neat rhyme.
П. Poe’s Theories on the Short Stories
1. The short story should be so brief as to be read at one sitting.
2. The first sentence ought to help to bring out the “single effect” of the story.
3. No word should be used which does not contribute to the work.
4. A tale should reveal some logical truth, and should end with the last sentence, leaving a sense of finality with the reader.
Step4 Major Works
І. General Introduction
1 . Poetry
1) The Raven (1844) 《乌鸦》
2) Annabel Lee 《安娜贝尔丽》
3) The Sleeper 《睡美人》
4) A Dream Within a Dream 《梦中梦》
6) The Bells 《钟》
7) Sonnet – To Science 《十四行诗--致科学》
8) To Helen 《献给海伦》
9) The City in the Sea 《海中的城市》
2. Short Stories
1) MS. Found in a Bottle (1833) 《瓶中手稿》
2) Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque (1839) 《怪异故事集》
3) The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) 《莫格路上的暗杀案》
4) The Fall of the House of Usher 《厄舍古屋的倒塌》
5) The Cask of Amontillado 《一桶白葡萄酒》
7) The Purloined Letter 《窃信案》
8) The Man of the Crowd 《人群中的人》
9) The Tell-Tale Heart《泄密的心》
10) William Wilson《威廉.威尔逊》
11) Black Cat《黑猫》
12) The Imp of the Perverse《变态的小鬼》
13) The Gold Bug《金甲虫》
14) The Mystery of Marie Roger《玛丽.罗热疑案》
15) The Masque of the Red Death《红色死亡的化妆舞会》
П. Appreciate The Cask of Amontillado
1. Who is the narrator?
2. Describe briefly how Poe characterizes Montresor and Fortunato as contrasts
1. The Story
Revenge in an Italian city upon a nobleman Fortunato (drunk, dizzy) for some unspecified insult during Carnival Amontillado (Spanish sherry)
1) Narrator (Montresor)
-with a devil of a heart sly, knows people’s heart well and all tricks to satisfy others’
-great contrast between his friendly appearance and evil of his heart
-His disguise of unwillingness to have his victim go and his eagerness to lead his
enemy into the trap of death
quick-tempered, somewhat simple-minded (not authentic )
His pride, vanity prove to be his destruction
3. Artistic Features
1) elements of terror:
horrors of violence, murder, and death
darkness of human nature (first person point of view)
great fear and despair of the character’s the frightening, grotesque scene
2) use of irony
death vs carnival (situational )
Fortunato (fortune) (verbal, situational )
funny appearance and miserable death (situational)
my good will, my friend, to your long life (verbal irony )
3) use of dialogue
4) the alien and exotic setting
formal style: archaic words, complex structure of sentences foreign or archaic fashion of expression (other than English)
Ш. Appreciate To Helen
Poe wrote To Helen as a reflection on the beauty (Physical beauty+Spiritual beauty) of Mrs.Jane Stith Stanard who died in 1824. She was the mother of one of Poe’s school classmates,who is said to have urged him to write poetry,and she was Poe’s frist real love.
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore， (Simile 明喻)
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea, (Hyperbole 夸张)
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore (Alliteration 头韵)
To his own native shore.
Question: Why does the poet compare Helen's beauty to "Nicean barks of yore"?
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth风信子 hair, thy classic face, (Parallelism)
Thy Naiad水仙女 airs have brought me home ( Metaphor)
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in you brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand, (Simile)
The agate玛瑙 lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche普塞克, from the regions which
Question: In what form does Helen appear in the final stanza? Why does she carry a lanp in her hands?
VI. Appreciate The Raven
“ ….the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world” __ Allen Poe
1. What is the general mood of the poem? How is this mood created and strengthened?
2. What are the sound devices used in the poem? How do these devices contribute to the creation of the general atmosphere?
3. What might be the function(s )of the raven in the poem, and its symbolic meaning ?
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; -vainly I had tried to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
" ' Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is and nothing more.
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door;
Darkness there, and nothing more.
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o' er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted-nevermore!
1. Topic: the death of a beautiful woman
2. Setting: midnight: a time associated with the end of life
bleak December: a season associated with the end of life
the room: warmed and lighted by “dying embers”, associated with the supernatural
the purple curtains: a color associated with Funereal custom
3. Mood: melancholic, sorrowful, even desperate
The repetition of the word “Nevermore” increases the speaker’s feelings of pain and loss. This pattern of self-inflicted torture builds in intensity until the speaker breaks
down emotionally and demands that the raven “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door”.
4. Sound: It takes Poe 4 years to complete “The Raven”
→a marvel of regularity:
719 feet of which 705 are perfect trochees (1 strong + 1 weak), 10 doubtful trochees and only 4 clearly dactyls (1 strong + 2 weak)
Rhyme scheme: abcbbb
Internal rhyme (dreary, weary; remember, December)
Alliteration (flirt, flutter; stately, saintly…)
Assonance (dreary, weary; napping, tapping, rapping; morrow, borrow, sorrow, with the sound “o” to show one’s sad, sorrow and grief mood; …)
Sound and rhythm make the poem musical and melodious. They contribute a lot to the mood and the theme of the writing at the same time.
1) Raven: disaster and misfortune
Raven, the large bird-like crow with black feathers, in Western countries, as well as it is in China, is conventionally regarded as an ominous fowl, a symbol of misfortune. Thus with the repetition of the "napping and tapping" the poet was filled "with fantastic terrors never felt before."
2) the "lost Lenore" : the soul of the radiant maiden, beauty and hope
At the moment when the poet was in the darkness peering, wondering, expecting and whispering Lenore but was just responded with a "nothing more," the Raven, "with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door." A conversation was held and the poet was so comforted with it. For twice, the poet felt the bird "beguiling my sad fancy into smiling."
3) The poet’s strong passion to Lenore: the sub-consciousness of the poet
In the conversation the poet distinctly expressed his strong passion to Lenore. However, the only response from the Raven was "Nevermore." It seems what the poet had expressed is simply the view out of the "id", while the Raven 's words are rather restrictive and seem out of "ego." The poet was too affectionate to Lenore to be restrictive, while the Raven was what warned him to be rational and that what had been lost would return "nevermore."
4) The poet’s frustration: the modern reality
The poet was of the firm belief that in modern society human beings are apathetic creatures. He was deeply resentful at the people's indifference towards his mourning to Lenore; therefore, he turned to the Raven for comfort. But quite to his disappointment, he was merely responded with a cold "nevermore."
Step5 The Difficulties and Key Points of This Class (Summary)
Key Points: The Cask of Amontillado, To Helen, The Raven
Different Points: Poe’s theories on poems and novels
Preview One's Self I Sing on P61 written by Whitman, I'm Nobody on P66 written by
Emily Dickinson and To Helen on P59 written by Poe, and compare and contrast these
three poems' similarities and differences. (From themes and writing styles)