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Poe Contrasted with Society

Poe Contrasted with Society

The writing style of Edgar Allan Poe can be compared and contrasted to modern society in many ways. For instance, “Ed” often wrote about psychopathic (or psychotic) killers who would bury people in walls, as in “The Cask of Amontillado” (1) and in “The Black Cat” (2). One can read about this kind of thing actually happening today by reading the daily newspaper. But then, Poe’s style can also be contrasted with today’s society. It’s not very often that a raven or any other bird for that matter enters some guy’s room and says only one word to him before going and sitting on a bust above his doorway (3). But chances are that Poe didn’t mean for this poem he wrote to be taken literally. At least, one wouldn’t think that he meant it to be taken that way. One can never be too sure when one is dealing with a guy who married his fourteen year old cousin. But that is beside the point. The point is that although times and scenery have changed, Poe’s works can still be related to society today.

One way in which Poe’s works can be related to society today is his description of the characters. An example of this can be found in Poe’s short story “The Black Cat.”(2) In this story, the narrator starts out remembering a time when he was considered a “normal” person. Gradually, due to his alcoholism, he becomes less concerned with those around him, more irritable, more moody. Just as he described so many years ago, people today, like the narrator in the story, drink alcohol and become irrational in thoughts and actions. Eventually when the narrator tries to kill his cat, his wife stops him and he buries an axe in her head. Fortunately, one doesn’t hear about this kind of murder all that often. But peo…

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… people live in dark castles with wind whistling through cracks in the walls and around the windows. The point is that the setting of some of Ed’s works differ from the times and places most people today are familiar with.

Considering all things one now knows, one can see that there are many similarities and dissimilarities between Edgar Allan Poe’s style of writing and the society of the world today. That is a pretty vague way of stating things, but it is true. One major similarity is the fact that the people that Poe writes about do actually exist, though they aren’t especially numerous, depending on how you look at it. A dissimilarity is the setting. The world isn’t as gloomy as Poe makes it seem. However, whether Poe’s works are more like or unlike society today isn’t something that can be told to a person. One must decide this for one’s self.

Existentialism and Albert Camus’ The Plague

Existentialism and The Plague

In the mid 1940s, a man by the name of Albert Camus began to write a story. This story he called La Pesté. Written in French, the novel became extremely popular and has since been translated numerous times into many languages. This story has been read over and over, yet it tells more than it seems to. This story tells the tale of a city gripped by a deadly disease. This is true enough, but this is not what the novel is about. The Plague can be read as an allegory of World War II, of the French Resistance against German Occupation. “To simplify things, one can say that The Plague is an allegorical novel” (Picon 146). This however, is indeed an oversimplification, and so this only tells part of the story. Camus is often considered to have been an Existentialist. “That Existentialist philosophies offered him a vocabulary from which he occasionally borrowed is of secondary importance in his case” (Brée, Camus 74). Perhaps this, Existentialism, is the focus of the novel? Not, it is not quite that simple. The Plague tells the story of a fight: not a fight against a disease, not a fight against German soldiers, but a fight against the indifference in the face of human suffering. Every man responds to this in his own manner, and this reaches to the heart of the Existential philosophy — it is actions that truly define a man.

“No, I am not an existentialist” (Doubrovsky 345). These words come from Albert Camus himself. It is true; Camus was not an Existentialist. Yes, he embraced much of existentialism, but not all. What, then, do Existentialists believe, and of this, what does Camus reject and what does he accept? To the existentialist, life is meaningless in and of itself. Therefore, “Since lif…

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…bert. Albert Camus: The Invisible Summer. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1958.

Masters, Brian. Camus: A Study. Totowa, NJ: Rowman

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