The works of Edgar Allan Poe include a variety of short stories and poetry. Poe (1809-1849) was a talented critic, editor, poet and author of short stories. His works focused on mystery, death and despair. He followed a romantic style of writing that delved into the macabre.
Edgar Allan Poe published most of his writing in periodical magazines before gathering the pieces together to publish in book form. He often edited and changed pieces between publishings. As a result, a single title from his work may have several different versions. However, the last published version is usually considered the definitive example of the piece.
The Raven is Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poem. Though he was paid poorly for the piece, it was an instant hit that brought him national fame. The poem is written in a very precise and melodic style filled with longing and despair.
Poe's The Raven is a narrative detailing a man's descent into madness over his lost love Lenore. A talking raven enters the man chamber, but only repeats the word "Nevermore." The man becomes obsessed with asking the raven questions, already knowing the answer will be "Nevermore." Each time the raven answers the desperate pleas, the man falls further into despair and eventually spirals into madness.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Murders in the Rue Morgue is the most revered of all Edgar Allan Poe short stories. It is considered the first modern detective story and a masterpiece of mystery. The tale is one of the first examples of an impossible mystery, known as a "locked-room story." The murder does, literally, take place in a locked room where it would seem impossible for the murderer to enter or leave.
Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue begins with the horrific murder of a mother and daughter in a locked room in Paris. An arrest is made, but a reclusive detective and his friend suspect the accused man is innocent. They investigate the case and discover that not only is the man innocent, but the true suspect may not be human.
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Tell-Tale Heart is one of many Edgar Allan Poe short stories that deal with terror, murder and a spiraling into madness. The unnamed narrator of the story reveals that he has murdered an old man. To hide the murder he dismembers the body and hides it beneath his floorboards. However, he soon hears the beating of the murdered man's heart, a sound that drives him to madness.
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher follows the same basic descent into madness as many of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. The narrator of the tale is called to a sick friend's estate. He arrives to find his friend in an agitated state and discovers that his friend's twin sister, Madeline, is so ill she often falls into catatonic states. The friend soon reveals to the narrator that Madeline has died and must be interred in a vault for two weeks before being buried.
The terror in Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher comes one night as they are reading an old tale when every event in the story seems to elicit a sound from the house. The friend soon reveals that his sister is not actually dead. As a storm crashes in the background, the door to the room opens and the sister falls dead. The friend dies in terror and the narrator flees the home just before lightening destroys it.