Poe's Short Stories

Psychoanalysis of "MS. found in a Bottle" College

The opening words of the story “MS. Found in a Bottle” by Edgar Allan Poe are a quote from the French opera Atys, “Qui n’a plus qu’un moment a vivre N’a plus rien a dissimuler” (Poe 1). This translates roughly to the idea that a man who is dying or in the final moments of his life will nothing to hide. Whether the truth comes out voluntarily or involuntarily, the man has no reason to lie. This quote can be interpreted differently in relation to Poe’s story. A man who perceives himself as close to death, or a man who is feeling suicidal and alone has no need to lie. The truth could even feel like a call for help at that point. Outside of the psychoanalytic lens, at the surface level the opening serves as a foreshadow to the narrator’s demise and proves his reliability. Psychoanalytic criticism “attempts to… provide a psychological study of an individual writer” (Smith 304). When a story is analyzed psychoanalytically, it can reveal quite a bit about an author’s mind. “Writers reveal instinctual or repressed selves in their books” (Smith 305). Deep inner feelings come through in the work of an author. Fear, anger, and sadness (in the form of loneliness) are the predominant emotions that the narrator feels throughout the story....

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