Edgar Allen Poe’s Short Stories are a must-read in the classroom. Is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? Yes he is. And I give the reasons why below.
Edgar Allen Poe’s Short Stories
A question that is often asked: Is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? The answer, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. However, I think he should get credit for his original ideas that have been copied and repeated in books, short stories, poems, and movies over the years. Today it is difficult to come up with new material because most ideas have been written about. Imagine having to be the first to create horror stories? This would be even harder. For this reason, Edgar Allen Poe takes the cake on horror stories!
Some of Edgar Allen Poe’s Short Stories and poems are: “The Tell Tale Heart”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Raven”, and “The Bells”. Let’s take a look at some Edgar Allen Poe Stories Summaries below.
Edgar Allen Poe Stories: The Mask of the Red Death-(Full lesson on TpT)
“The Masque of the Red Death” is at the top of my list for short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. “The Masque of the Red Death” pertains to today in that it is about the red death during a time when the death rate was through the roof and even the upper-class couldn’t escape the plague…but they sure tried. The story begins with primarily the lower class peasants dying at a rapid rate from the black plague. Despite death being everywhere, a rich Prince Prospero decides he is going to invite his rich friends over, shut everyone out and/or in and party through until the plague has passed. He is an arrogant man and the idea of celebrating while so many are dying is as pretentious as it is callous. For a few days everyone celebrates with eating, dancing and being merry. In the castle the Prince has rooms that are a different colors. Edgar Allen Poe, during a time when author’s didn’t use metaphors, was using color as metaphor. The blue room, purple, room, yellow room etc. were happy places to be but no one entered the red room. At the end of the story the music shuts off and a man “death” in a mask (the plague) emerges from the red room to the party. The host charges him and dies immediately and everyone drops and dies in the end. I love this short story for several reasons. First it pertains to today’s pandemic, but it also puts our pandemic in perspective in that we are lucky this is a virus unlike the red death. It shows the audacity of particular groups of people who think they are untouchable and reserve no compassion for those who are less fortunate and vulnerable, and the use of colors, metaphors, symbols and lessons learned are brilliant, especially in this time period! For this reason I think the answer to the question, is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? Is Yes.
Edgar Allen Poe Stories: The Pit and the Pendulum-(Full lesson on TpT)
“The Pit and the Pendulum” should win an award for being the most copied on one of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories list. It is a tale during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. A prisoner awakens in a torture chamber and is trying to find a way out. It is Edgar Allen Poe’s use of anticipation that further positions him as the greatest author of horror stories. It begins with the man trying to keep himself busy by doing exercises, and writing on the wall. This seems like torture until the room opens up and he finds himself tied to the ground with corpse rats charging at him. This is a scene that has been recaptured in several works and T.V. shows. I have seen it in “Criminal Minds”, and “Bone Collector” to name a couple. Rats eating dead bodies at some point sparked the idea of rats eating live bodies and Edgar Allen Poe was the first to capture this horror. The next set of torture is a pit on one side and a swinging sharp pendulum swaying back and forth getting closer and closer to the prisoner. The prisoner has a short period of time to try and outsmart the device and is saved at the end. Can anyone say “Saw“? Saw’s entire plot surrounds same ideas from “The Pit and the Pendulum”. In the end the prisoner is saved right in time by the opposition. This is the second of my favorites of stories by Edgar Allen Poe. This story is copied for generations and continues to be copied, it captures the horror of torture, and it leaves the story with a feeling of anxiety as though the man will end up right back where he started. The Spanish Inquisition was a time when distrust was high and no one was safe-can anyone say Dictatorship? For this reason I think the answer to the question, is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? Is Yes.
Edgar Allen Poe Stories: The Cask of Amontillado-(Full lesson on TpT)
“The Cask of Amontillado” is among one of the best Edgar Allen Poe tales. What is so farsighted about “The Cask of Amontillado” is that Edgar Allen Poe has so much insight into a level of psychology that was not studied at this time. A man named Fortunado has somehow offended Luchesi. The offense was a mild one as Fortunado puts his complete trust in Luchesi when he agrees to go down to his wine cellar for a cask of Amontillado (wine). Fortunado has plotted and planned this murder for some time and waited for the right moment to kill Fortunado. Luchesi even knows Fortunado’s weakness and makes an offer Fortunado cannot refuse on his weakness’ behalf. Fortunado cannot say no to a good bottle of wine and is willing to take a long journey down to the catacombs of Luchesi’s wine cellar. Fortunado (a very ironic name) willingly walks down the narrow stone steps, coughing as he is already sick and the damp air is making him worse. Fortunado heads into a hole dug into a wall to get to his hamartia-the wine, when he is shut in by Luchesi. The fact that Fortunado was still willing to crawl into a space suggests that Fortunado was an alcoholic during a time when alcoholism was not understood. Edgar Allen Poe gives a chilling account of anger, bargaining, denial, and acceptance at the grieving of Fortundo’s own death. It makes one wonder how Edgar Allen Poe was so knowledgeable about what later took years of work, observation, and study to understand. For this reason “The Cask of Amontillado” is on the list of Edgar Allen Poe interesting stories. For this reason I think the answer to the question, is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? Is Yes.
The Tell Tale Heart-(Full lesson on TpT)
I hate to say it but “The Tell Tale Heart” is one of his most popular works and is one of my least favorites. However there is still much to be said about Edgar Allen Poe and his writing talents in this short story. “The Tell Tale Heart” opens with a man who is middle aged arguing to the audience that he isn’t mad, which makes you quickly realize that you are dealing with someone who is mentally unstable. He goes on to state that he loved the old man (whom he killed) and “took no offense of him”. He states that he killed the man because of his eye. One can deduce that the old man had blue eyes and a bad case of cataracts. One can also deduce that the man serving him entered into a psychotic paranoid state when he decided to kill the man because of his eye. The next display of his complete paranoia is when he buries the man under the floorboards and the police enter to inquire about the missing man. The middle-aged man continues to hear the beating of the old man’s heart inside his head and yells out confessing that he killed the old man. Like in “The Cask of Amontillado”, Edgar Allen Poe seems to have a lot of knowledge into human psyche. There is even a hint of compassion for the man who murders the old man because it is clear that he is sick and what is happening in his head is beyond his control. Could Edgar Allen Poe have had compassion for the mentally ill during a time when no one understood mental illness? This is another reason Edgar Allen Poe is brilliant and should get credit for his horror stories. For this reason I think the answer to the question, is Edgar Allen Poe truly the best horror author? Is Yes.
Poem: The Raven-(Full lesson on TpT)
“The Raven” is another classic of Edgar Allen Poe’s that has been copied for generations. The raven is symbolic for bringing news, and for holding the spirit of someone who has passed on. Just look at “Game of Thrones“. In the vault of Edgar Allen Poe interesting stories goes “The Raven.” “The Raven” is a poem about a man who has lost his beautiful wife Lenore. The Raven continues to visit tapping on the window and at first it is comforting to the man. After this goes on for a while the man becomes agitated and is becoming mad. He cannot get rid of the memories of his wife nor can he move on from her death as there is always something to remind him of her. We watch as the character goes through the different stages of grief and I again question how Edgar Allen Poe can have so much knowledge of psychology during a time it wasn’t studied.
Poems by Edgar Allen Poe: The Bells-(Full lesson on TpT)
“The Bells” is another poem about a man who has lost his loved one and is experiencing some of the stages of grief. The bells are symbolic for death, and the death is being told to us-those who are alive. The bells are a reminder that we all will die eventually. This is copied in the famous poem, “For Whom the Bell Tolls“, and later made into a song by Metallica. To find these and others, there are Edgar Allen Poe short stories online.
Tell me in the comments which Edgar Allen Poe best short stories are on your list! For a Edgar Allen Poe Bundle Product Click Here. To read my blog on short stories click here.
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