The Masque (Mask) of the Red D, William Wilson, Tale of the Ragged Mountains, and House of Ush

analytical Essay
1574 words
1574 words

Landscape in Masque of the Red Death, William Wilson, Tale of the Ragged Mountains, and House of Usher

A careful reading of Poe’s tales will quickly reveal the importance that landscape plays in the development of each literary work. "Ragged Mountains" has both a surreal and realistic landscape allowing Poe to use both the mental and the physical environment to explain his tale. This technique is also found in "The Fall of the House of Usher," "William Wilson," and "The Masque of the Red Death." In these tales too the reader may tend to focus on the action at hand, and the psychological details, because that is what we are prone to do with Poe stories. However, it is also important to understand that physical landscape as well. As Daniel Philippon states in his article "Poe in the Ragged Mountains": "Any search for a whole universe of suggestion must be held in check by the realities of the landscape in which it occurs."

In "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains," it is pretty obvious that the landscape is going to play an important part in the story - we are given the setting right in the title. However, a majority of the story actually takes place in an "Orientalized" locale that has been transposed into the Ragged Mountains. This alone is a great juxtaposition: the title describes what seems to be a run-down, unappealing landscape, while the real action takes place in fantastical setting. But why is the landscape so important if the psychological aspect is what Poe is trying to focus on? Most likely it is because the landscape gives us clues about what is actually happening in the minds of the characters, and hints at things that make the story clearer. For example, Bedloe starts his tale by describing "the thic...

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...dscape as well as a physical one, his pieces pack a more powerful punch, and always allow the reader to find hints about what is really going on at a deeper level. Since much of Poe's 'action' is psychological, the landscape is an element of the story that can't be ignored, and should not.

Works Cited:

Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Masque of the Red Death." The American Tradition in Literature. Ed. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. 9th ed. vol. 1. New York: McGraw, 1998.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" [1843]; in Poe, ed. Harold Beaver. The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "William Wilson." Selected Poetry and Prose of Poe. Ed. T. O. Mabbott. New York: Modern Library, 1951.

Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Fall of the House of Usher". R.V.Cassill, ed. The Norton Fiction. New York, London, 1995.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how poe sucks us in with his description of the house of usher and the surrounding land. adjectives and phrases like "insufferable gloom," "decayed trees," and "extensive decay" sprinkled throughout make our skin crawl.
  • Analyzes how poe draws the house into the cast of characters by giving it human features. the fissure is a reflection of the family and the usher family.
  • Analyzes how poe's descriptions of the setting in "william wilson" are not as in-your-face as "ragged mountains" or "house of usher."
  • Analyzes how the landscape plays an important role in "a tale of the ragged mountains" because it gives clues about what is actually happening in the characters' minds and makes the story clearer.
  • Analyzes the importance of landscape in poe's tales, including "the fall of the house of usher" and "william wilson."
  • Analyzes how poe uses color in his setting to mirror the psychological aspects of his tale with the physical environment.
  • Introduces poe, edgar allan, "the masque of the red death" and "william wilson" in the american tradition in literature.
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