Poe's Short Stories

Edgar Allan Poe's "Tales of Terror" as Tragic Drama

The literary compositions of Edgar Allan Poe, especially his short stories of terror based on supernatural or psychological manifestations, continue to be highly praised by a select group of readers who relish the dark, nightmarish worlds of human existence with their roots firmly established in the ancient past. Edgar Poe's uncanny ability to transcend reality and inject the reader into the domains of the macabre and the weird is the most compelling reason for his enduring popularity, not only in America but throughout the world. In his "tales of terror," such as "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Black Cat," "The Premature Burial" and "The Fall of the House of Usher," a strange, unnerving familiarity with the characters and situations can be sensed which allows the reader to subconsciously relate to the macabre experiences and thoughts of the main protagonists. This ability to pass beyond the veils of reality and suspend the reader's disbelief is most closely related to Poe's application of tragic drama in his prose writings.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined tragic drama as "a power capable of raising pity and fear, or terror. . . to purge the mind of these passions. . . to temper and reduce them....

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