Poe’s Use of Imagery

Published: 31st August 2010
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Imagery is defined as the use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. In all of Poe’s stories, imagery plays an enormous role in his writing. In the stories "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe provides the reader with a set of mental pictures or images through effective imagery of illustrate different elements to the stories.





In the short story "The Cask of Amontillado," Poe gives the reader a vivid picture through the use of imagery. By stating, "It was about dusk one evening," Poe adds various elements to the story such as setting and foreshadowing. Throughout this piece, he uses small words, such as "dusk," to symbolize an idea or feeling. This use of imagery helps describe the setting by telling the reader when the story takes place. In literary works, the word "dusk" gives the reader an indication that the end is near; therefore, it foreshadows the death of Fortunato. In addition, Poe adds more dramatic imagery when he states, "The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled…We had passed long walls of piled skeleton." Wine, since it is an alcoholic beverage, puts Fortunato in a state of oblivion, and he becomes unaware of what is taking place. By telling the reader more about him, Poe develops the character of Fortunato and he begins to reveal his fate. The skeletons represent death: the death that was to take place in the near future. Imagery adds many elements to the short story "The Cask of Amontillado."





Similar to his other works, Poe creates a specific mood and theme in "The Tell Tale Heart" through the use of imagery. "His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily." The author creates a mood of darkness, death, and malevolence by using the words "black" and "thick darkness." When Poe repeats the word steadily, he expresses how the narrator has the murder planed out carefully without error. The wording used shows the reader that he is undetectable in the room which gives hints that the old man will be killed for he has no idea what is going on. In addition to mood, a theme slowly reveals itself as the story progresses. Poe states, "No doubt I now grew very pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice." The narrator, through his actions and thoughts, shows the reader the theme of guilt. He convinced himself that the man’s heart was still beating, which would get him caught for the murder. The author describes the man as mad; this is exposed when he compels himself to admit to the murder and turn himself in. The imagery in "The Tell Tale Heart" plays an essential role to the comprehension and understanding of the story.





In conclusion, Edgar Allan Poe’s uses effective imagery in "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell Tale Heart." He uses symbolism and words to help the reader form a better mental picture. Imagery works as a critical component in literary works such as these. Like all other good writers, Poe helps the reader feel as if he or she is part of the story through the use of imagery.





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