Short stories by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was not only a great book writer, he also write some fantastic short stories, which are beloved by his fans.

­The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe is a horrifying story of jealousy and revenge. In it, Fortunato is buried alive by his friend who can’t stand his huge ego that permits him to think he knows everything about wine. Fortunato is a fine man, this friend acknowledges, in all respects but one: He believes he is a wine connoisseur. His friend decides to trick him, and leads him into his cellar in which he says he has a cask of rare wine: Amontillado. Fortunato wants this wine, and follows his friend down into the abyss, where, exhausted, he lies down while his friend chains him up and bricks him into the cellar, alive, one brick at a time. No one knows he is there, and no one finds him until many years after he has been buried alive.

The connection with Poe is clear: Poe was an alcoholic who loved wine and may even have died of this affliction. In the Fall of the House of Usher, Poe tells the story of twins, a brother and sister, Roderick and Madeline Usher. This is a true Gothic tale, complete with a haunted house, gloomy landscape, mysterious personalities, and dark and scary weather. Madeline, sickly, is thought to have died and is unknowingly buried alive. Somehow she breaks from her tomb and falls, now really dead, upon her brother, killing him. Then the decaying mansion they live in falls apart. This brief summary can sound humorous, but Poe’s genius was such that it created a world of horror and monstrous claustrophobia, in which it was impossible for the characters to escape alive.

The connection with Poe exists in his background in the magazine industry in which he worked. He was obsessed with codes and word games, often inventing them and writing about them. Naming is one manifestation of this. The house of Usher refers not only to the dark mansion and family, but also to the fact that someone unknown is “ushered” into their ambience and crosses their threshold. Characters seem to be chained to the house; they cannot escape. The house morphs into a horrifying character of its own. A Poe story is a treat. It generally creates such a scary atmosphere that it is sometimes impossible to finish, at least a night.­


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