edgar allan poe “the importance of the single effect in a prose tale”

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  • Slide 1
  • EDGAR ALLAN POE The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale
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  • CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SHORT STORY 30 minutes to 1 or 2 hours to its reading Must be able to be read at one sitting Must contain a unique or single effect Incidents in the story must be created and organized to achieve that single effect
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  • SETTING Dusk, carnival season Narrators palazzo Montresor catacombs (family burial vaults) Damp, covered with mold, walls of piled bones
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  • CHARACTER Montresor: the narrator, cunning, vengeful, a mason (bricklayer), psychotic, dressed in a dark suit with a cape Fortunato: the victim, a wine connoisseur, dressed in a court jesters outfit (motley), name means good fortune Luchesi: NOT A CHARACTER, just mentioned as part of the bait to lure Fortunato into the trap
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  • CHARACTERIZATION Narrators thoughts Narrators actions Narrators speech Physical appearance What another character says
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  • PLOT Exposition Introduces the characters Describes the setting Hints at the conflict (Point of Conflict)
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  • PLOT Rising Action Meets Fortunato Lures him to his palazzo Gets him to go down into the catacombs Shackles Fortunato to the wall Montresor builds a wall in front of Fortunato
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  • PLOT Climax For the love of God, Montresor! Yes, I said, for the love of God!
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  • PLOT Falling Action Finished the wall Replaced a skeleton Denouement In pace requiescat! May he rest in peace!
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  • POINT OF VIEW 1 st Person Narrator Told through Montresors point of view Only know what Montresor is thinking Creates an unreliable narrator Narrator presents himself as completely in the right to do what he does Until the climax, the reader could possibly by sympathetic Only until the end does the reader realize what has happened
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  • THEME How far does one go to get even?
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  • IRONY Technically these really dont become ironic until the reader realizes that Montresor has buried Fortunato alive Verbal ... you are luckily met. (468) ... your health is precious. (469) And I (drink) to your long life. (469) The last line of the story (rest in peace)
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  • IRONY Situational Fortunato is dressed in motley (court jester) The joke is on him. Montresors profession is that of a mason Fortunato mistakenly thinks he is of the Masonic Order Fortunatos name means good fortune
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  • IRONY Dramatic Montresor Coat of Arms Gold foot crushing a serpent whose fangs are imbedded in the heel Montressor Motto No one wounds me without being punished.
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  • SETTING Dreary tract of country Evening, melancholy House of Usher Establishes gloom Mere house, simple landscape, bleak walls, vacant eye-like windows, rank sedges, white trunks of decayed trees An utter depression of soul An iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart
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  • SETTING Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web work form the eaves... ... A barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.
  • Slide 19
  • SETTING Studio Very large and lofty, long and narrow windows, black oaken floor Gleams of encrimsoned light through trellised panes Dark draperies Comfortless furniture Books and musical instruments lay scattered about An atmosphere of sorrow Stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom
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  • CHARACTER Roderick Cadaverousness of complexion Large, liquid eye Lips somewhat thin and very pallid Delicate Hebrew nose Chin in want of prominence Hair of a web-like softness and tenuity (tenuous: delicate and fine) fell about the face Ghastly pallor of the skin
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  • Roderick (cont.) Suffers from a condition that causes a morbid acuteness of the senses Extreme sensitivity Could only eat certain food Could only wear certain garments of certain textures Odors were oppressive Light and sound sensitivity
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  • CHARACTER Madeline Rodericks sister Has a disease that causes gradual wasting away Has incidents of cataleptic seizures
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  • CHARACTERIZATION Characters actions Characters thoughts Physical appearance Speech Other characters actions
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  • PLOT Exposition: includes the narrators description of the exterior of the house, of the studio, of Roderick, and of Madeline; introduces an internal conflict that the narrator is having
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  • PLOT Rising Action: Narrator is greeted by Roderick; discussion Rodericks and Madelines afflictions; narrator attempts to alleviate Rodericks melancholy through painting, reading, and conversing; Madeline dies; entombed her in the burial chambers beneath the Usher mansion; Roderick becomes increasingly more agitated; Mad Trist of Sir Launcelot evokes loud noises from beneath the mansion; Madeline breaks from her tomb Climax: doors to the room open; Madeline rushes at Roderick Falling Action: Narrator flees the mansion; the mansion crumbles being swallowed entirely by the tarn
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  • CONFLICT Internal: narrators perceptions of the House of Usher and his desire to help alleviate Rodericks depression and help him Physical: Rodericks struggle with his physical and emotional maladies; Madelines struggle with her affliction; Madelines struggle to escape from her tomb Psychological: Rodericks inability to deal with reality
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  • POINT OF VIEW Told through the first-person narrator - his thoughts and perceptions
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  • THEME 3 Possibilities Simply supernatural Workings of the human mind Role of the Romantic artist
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  • THEME Simply Supernatural Suggests that the story was written primarily for entertainment purposes A horrific story that fits into the Gothic Tales for which Poe was so famous
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  • THEME Workings of the Human Mind On the brink of insanity Madeline (unconscious) and Roderick (conscious) When the conscious strives to deny the existence of the unconscious, the human mind (the Usher mansion) must fall into destruction Symbolism involves the use of vivid description of the house as the exterior of the mind and body and of the studio which is the inside of the mind
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  • THEME Role of the Romantic artist Roderick is an artist (poetry, paintings, music) The realm of creativity and the desire to achieve the ideal creative plane Roderick leaves the real world behind in search for the sublime (beautiful, heavenly, of the highest moral or spiritual value)
  • Slide 32
  • THEME No contact with the external world that might serve as the subject matter of his art Shut down his senses with no source for his art but his own subjectivity Metaphorically, he must feed upon himself The price the artist must pay for cutting himself off is annihilation