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A Comparison of House of Usher, Bierce’s Beyond the Wall, The Black Cat, John Mortonson’s Funeral

Parallels in Poe’s House of Usher and Bierce’s Beyond the Wall, Poe’s The Black Cat and Bierce’s John Mortonson’s Funeral, and in M.S. Found in a Bottle by Poe and Three and One are One by Bierce.

When one decides to become an author, one can not help being influenced by his predecessors, causing some of one’s work to reflect and echo the predecessor’s. Such is the case between Ambrose Bierce and his predecessor, Edgar Allen Poe. Excluding the obvious fact that both Poe’s and Bierce’s short stories show an attraction for death in its many forms, depictions of mental deteriorations, supernatural happenings, and ghostly manifestations, there are other similarities and parallels. Examples of them appear in Poe’s short story “Fall of the House of Usher” and Bierce’s short story “Beyond the Wall”, Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Bierce’s “John Mortonson’s Funeral”, and in “M.S. Found in a Bottle” by Poe and “Three and One are One” by Bierce. Beyond the Wall vs The Fall of the House of Usher

In “Beyond the Wall”, the descriptions of the setting, the words Bierce used, and the way the story opens reminds one of Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” In both stories the narrator travels to the house of a childhood friend whom the man has not seen in many years. The narrator begins his journey on “… the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens…”. Poe creates the feeling of despair by writing about how “a insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” when the narrator saw “the melancholy House of Usher.” He looked upon “…the simple landscape features of the domain – upon the bleak walls -… upon a few rank sedges – and upon a few white trunks of decayed …

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…n stories; so what’s the use?” Bierce was able to hold his own with almost any story he had written with the masters, like Mark Twain, Brett Harte, and of course, Edgar Allen Poe. Bibliography

Ambrose Bierce, The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce. University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Dedria Bryfonski, “Ambrose Bierce.” Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Volume One. Gale Research Company. New York, 1978.

Cathy N. Davidson, Critical Essays on Ambrose Bierce. G. K. Hall

Exploring Identity and Time in Here, An Arundel Tomb and The Whitsun Weddings

Exploring Identity and Time in Here, An Arundel Tomb and The Whitsun Weddings

Larkin has been criticized over the years for the moroseness of his poems, the blackened description of everyday life that some people say lacks depth, however, unlike many other poets, Larkin does not always write the truth or the depth of his feelings. In many there is a voice, trying to convince its author of something that is usually quite evident or exploring itself but revealing only the surface. Why he is trying to convince himself and what are is true feelings present the real challenge and profundity of Larkin poems. The search for one’s identity, combined for everybody in one’s unique fantasies and realities is a recurrent theme in his poems. As is time, the passing of it, the transformation it engenders and the damage it inflicts.

In “Here”, identity or the search for one’s identity is the main theme. The search is symbolized by the journey taken by Larkin, which takes him through the countryside before Hull, through Hull and finally into the countryside and the beach outside Hull. He finds his identity in the countryside outside Hull, however, he knows that although it is here that he yearns for, it is not his true self, it is his fantasy, the “Here” he would like to live in but that is nevertheless “out of reach”. His real identity can be found in Hull with the people and city he so despises.

His journey starts in the farm lands before Hull, he does not stop his car, he swerves passed everything as he knows it is not what he is searching for and the slowness of the life he describes here is used in contrast to the imagined speed of the author’s swerving vehicle on the motorway.

His next stop, his arrival in Hull marks an abrupt change in scenery (“the surprise of a large town”) and the driver stops his car, Larkin uses the word “Here” here for the first time so that we assume he has at last found something, a part of his identity. What he sees, described in the next two paragraphs is a city he despises, a city of people whom he feels are below him, yet he knows it and them extremely. He knows about the contrast between its “domes and statues” and “grain scattered streets”, as he knows the people there, he describes their movements as “stealing” suggesting stealth and sleaze as they move towards the supermarkets, swinging doors to their “desires”, emphasizing that the desires are theirs.

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