A structuralist reading of selected works by Edgar Allan Poe
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I hypothesize that the methodical arrangement, which epistrophe and refrain adhere to throughout "The Raven," is important for a thorough understanding of the poem because it reinforces the narrator's growing state of insanity and ultimate loss of self. These figures of speech reflect the narrator's unstable state of mind, a state that inevitably leads to a collapse of the self. This instability is reflected in other Poe narrators. Through a review of the changing perception of the insane individual along with the growing social fear of premature burial in 19th Century America I will analyze a selection of Poe's short stories: "Berenice," "The Black Cat," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Ligeia," "The Mask of the Red Death," "The Premature Burial," and "The Tell-Tale Heart." The mental collapse that the narrators of these tales go through will then be compared to the narrator of "The Raven." Through this comparison recurrent themes will be highlighted. These themes include monomania (a form of insanity), the fear of premature burial, repression, the importance of midnight, and the return of both the deceased and the repressed.