How to write an essay on Edgar Allan Poe’s works?
To write a report or an essay on the subject of literature is not that easy as it may seem at first sight. Even if you are acquainted with the main facts of the author’s biography and if you read many of his works, it may become a real challenge for you to write essays on Edgar Allan Poe and his works.
It is advisable to avoid the topics which deal only with the biography of the author. A survey of the writer’s private life in fact has nothing to do with literature itself. The focus of your work should be made on some problematic subject. How to check out if the topic of your essay is good? Just ask the question to yourself, whether there is something to argue about in your essay or not. Actually, it is vivid that there is nothing to argue about if you choose a synoptical topic, for instance, the facts of life of Edgar Allan Poe. There is nothing problematic here, and, by the way, nothing concerning literature either. This is why you should avoid the topics which enlighten the biography but it doesn’t mean you should avoid mentioning any facts of his life – if it’s relevant for the topic, you can mention a couple of words about it.
To choose a successful topic of your essay or report, first of all you should find out what merits made the author a famous and distinguished character of American Literature. He started with the small collection of poems but the worldwide known one was composed many years later – it is called «The Raven». Edgar Allan Poe essay would be successful and essential in case it concerns the pieces that really became the hallmark brand of the author. If you choose the prosaic works of the writer, mind which of his pieces are the most prominent ones and highlight the meaning of Poe’s work in the world literature.
One of the ways to highlight the author’s merit is to mention the influence of Poe’s detective stories on the prose by Arthur Conan Doyle. He considered Poe as his mentor and the father of the world detective literary works in general. Many people who are impressed by the stories about Sherlock Holmes are pretty sure that it is definitely Arthur Conan Doyle who first invented and described the method of deduction – the way which Sherlock Holmes used in order to find the criminal. But in fact it is not true because it was Edgar Allan Poe who first described this method in details, and Arthur Conan Doyle only further developed it.
In his tale «The Murders in the Rue Morgue» Edgar Allan Poe essays the method of searching for the murderer by way of collecting and analyzing the details of the event. Though Poe never used the term «the deductive method», he described it in details calling it just the logical conclusion. Also although there was no term «detective» at the time Edgar Allan Poe wrote the tale, later exactly this piece of the author was called the first work written in the genre of a detective story. A very interesting feature of the detective stories by Edgar Allan Poe is that the narrator as though enters the mind of the investigator in order to show to the reader all the features of the flow of thoughts and the whole logical chain of the facts that finally lead to the denounced murderer. The topic of the essay which underlines the role of the author as of the father of the world’s detective would be quite a good choice.
Short horror stories are, without any doubt, a cup of tea of Edgar Allan Poe. In the sphere of scaring people by means of a literary word he may be considered as the real innovator because nobody of the authors ever did it before as he did. He is definitely the precursor of the genre of horror in modern literature. Though the elements of horror were already widespread in the literature, especially in the English Gothic novels, such as «The Castle of Otranto» by Horace Walpole, Edgar Allan Poe was the first American author to make horror, fear and scaring the defining phenomena of the plot of the story. Though, at the same time his horror stories always had the philosophical component. It could be, for example, the idea of triumph of justice even if the way of its attainment was really horrible, as in «The Cask of Amontillado» where there are the hints on the humiliation and the revenge for it.
The prominent detail of the horror stories by Poe is that in most of them the narrator and the killer are the same person. And in cases when it’s not vividly seen, the way of narration makes the reader feel sympathy, understanding and sometimes even compassion towards the criminal. This fact makes the vague resemblance of the plot of these horror stories and «Crime and Punishment» by the Russian writer Dostoevsky. Thus, you can form another topic of your Edgar Allan Poe essay based on the resemblance of the attitude of the authors towards the protagonists of their pieces. By the way, both of the mentioned writers created their works approximately at the same period of time. In your essay you may try to figure out the reasons of such kind of resemblance.
The only thing that really demands mentioning the biography facts is how the world outlook of the author influenced his works. And this topic is inexhaustible. Some of his beliefs could be called metaphysical and even heretical, which caused a range of accusations from the Western church. His vision of the universe structure was expounded in the piece «Eureka». Publishing of this work caused a lot of criticism towards the author although Poe stated that his prose poem was nothing more than a literary work and that the author never meant to contradict the traditional science. The bound between the world view and the expression of it in his works is a good idea to pick up as one of the Edgar Allan Poe essay topics.