Poe's Stories brief biography of edgar allan poe

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Short Story By Flannery OConnor
Related Characters Narrator (MS. Found in a Bottle)
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Page Number 20
Explanation and Analysis
In this passage, Poe gives us a flavor of his hidden impulses and desires--in other words, what he personally finds frightening. In the story, the narrator is aboard a ship that's slowly being sucked into a whirlpool. And yet all around the ship are huge columns of ice.
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Its important to notice the claustrophobia of this scene.
Even though the narrator is sailing on the ocean--i.e., a completely open place--he has the strong sense of being boxed in by these massive walls of ice. Confronted by the horror of compression and enclosure, death--or being sucked down by the whirlpool--is almost a relief. (In real life,
Poe was terrified of being buried alive, and wrote dozens of stories on the topic. This story is an early sign of Poe's claustrophobia.)
The description of the icy walls is also a good example of the kind of Gothic "architecture" that haunts Poe's stories. Even when nothing directly supernatural or horrifying is happening, the setting itself usually suggests something sinister or beyond human comprehension. These icy columns are reminiscent of the Romantic idea of the "sublime" (an experience, usually in nature, of terror and awe at the vastness of existence, and were perhaps inspirational for the setting of Mary Shelley's classic work of horror and the Romantic:
Ligeia Quotes
They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals – in moments of intense excitement – that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia.

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