A Comparison of House of Usher, Bierce's Beyond the Wall, The Black Cat, John Mortonson's Funeral
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Parallels in Poe's House of Usher and Bierce's Beyond the Wall, Poe’s The Black Cat and Bierce's John Mortonson's Funeral, and in M.S. Found in a Bottle by Poe and Three and One are One by Bierce.
When one decides to become an author, one can not help being influenced by his predecessors, causing some of one's work to reflect and echo the predecessor's. Such is the case between Ambrose Bierce and his predecessor, Edgar Allen Poe. Excluding the obvious fact that both Poe's and Bierce's short stories show an attraction for death in its many forms, depictions of mental deteriorations, supernatural happenings, and ghostly manifestations, there are other similarities and parallels. Examples of them appear in Poe's short story "Fall of the House of Usher" and Bierce's short story "Beyond the Wall", Poe's "The Black Cat" and Bierce's "John Mortonson's Funeral", and in "M.S. Found in a Bottle" by Poe and "Three and One are One" by Bierce. Beyond the Wall vs The Fall of the House of Usher
In "Beyond the Wall", the descriptions of the setting, the words Bierce used, and the way the story opens reminds one of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." In both stories the narrator travels to the house of a childhood friend whom the man has not seen in many years. The narrator begins his journey on "... the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens...". Poe creates the feeling of despair by writing about how "a insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit" when the narrator saw "the melancholy House of Usher." He looked upon "...the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls -... upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed ...
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...n stories; so what's the use?" Bierce was able to hold his own with almost any story he had written with the masters, like Mark Twain, Brett Harte, and of course, Edgar Allen Poe. Bibliography
Ambrose Bierce, The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce. University of Nebraska Press, 1984.
Dedria Bryfonski, "Ambrose Bierce." Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Volume One. Gale Research Company. New York, 1978.
Cathy N. Davidson, Critical Essays on Ambrose Bierce. G. K. Hall & Co. Boston, Massachusetts. 1982.
Arthur Miller, "The Influence of Edgar Allen Poe on Ambrose Bierce." American Literature. Volume Four. May 1932. pp 130- 150.
Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Allen Poe: Eight Tales of Terror. Scholastic Magazine, Inc. New York, 1978.
Edgar Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales. New American Library. New York, 1972