Posted: July 7th, 2015

What effect does the fear of death have on Poe’s characters in “The Premature Burial” and “The Masque of the Red Death?”

Assignment Instructions
This assignment contains two short answer essay questions. Each answer should be between 300-500 words and written in third person narrative voice. Use the attached Short Answer Essay #2 template to answer the questions.

All work in this class must be in MLA formatting. Please note that whenever you are referring to a source in your work, there should be in-text quotes (or paraphrases) from that source to support your assertions. These should be followed by parenthetical citations. Ensure there is a Works Cited citation at the end of the document.

Here are some tips on how to effectively respond to essay questions:

1. Get right to the point. Don’t rewrite the question!
2. Answer in specific terms, not in general.
3. When using examples, make sure that it is clear why you are using that particular example to answer the question.
4. When making general statements, be sure to follow them up with answers to questions such as who, what, why and how.
5. Avoid making all-encompassing statements, such as using the words “all,” “every,” “no one,” etc. unless they are true.
6. Be prepared to defend every statement you make with recognized facts. For example, if you make a statement, follow it up with a quote from the text or other recognized authority or a specific example.

Question 1: Answer the following question in 300-500 words:

Poe: What effect does the fear of death have on Poe’s characters in “The Premature Burial” and “The Masque of the Red Death?”

Question 2: Answer the following question in 300-500 words:

Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson and Thoreau were actually among a fairly tight group. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville all knew each other well; they were friends and neighbors. They knew well the works of Poe (who died in 1849); he in turn wrote about Emerson. Although they all had their own individual style and vision, they influenced each other. Discuss the similarities and contrasts in these writers based on your understanding of the Romantic and Transcendentalist movements, the era, the authors, and the works themselves.
Edgar Allen Poe —
While Edgar Allen Poe is the master of the American Gothic tradition, he is a relative late comer in the genre. American Gothic literature has its origins in British literature. It was influenced by several important British authors discussed above whose work paved the way for the genre Poe adopted in America and artfully perfected. For more on this amazing author, visit the Poe Museum; it is an amazing site dedicated solely to the life, times, and works of Edgar Allen Poe
Herman Melville
We also have Herman Melville, our adventuresome and a tad-bit eccentric seafarer! For more information on the life, times, and works of Melville, check out these links. If you would rather listen to “Bartleby the Scrivener,” please use the link to LibriVox below.

Ralph Waldo Emerson —
Emerson, one of the preeminent transcendentalists of his day, was many things. He was a preacher, a poet, and a philosopher. Most of all he was a thinker and intellectual whose ideas challenged Americans as never before. His important and timeless narrative, “Self Reliance” remains a widely read masterpiece to this day. Its main theme is the need for each individual to avoid conformity and follow his or her own instincts and ideas.
Henry David Thoreau —
Thoreau was the outspoken contemporary and neighbor of Emerson. His two most important works are Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” In “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule and that citizens have a duty to ensure the government does not become the agent of oppression. In Walden, Thoreau performs a simple social experiment by going into the woods at Walden Pond and living an isolated life. It was his intent to engage in personal introspection so as to better understand society.
Nathaniel Hawthorne —
We continue our exploration of romanticism with our reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Below are some of the reasons for Hawthorne’s continued and current popularity. From Perspectives in American Literature, the major themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fiction are:

1. Alienation – a character is in a state of isolation because of self-cause, or societal cause, or a combination of both.

2. Initiation – involves the attempts of an alienated character to get rid of his isolated condition.

3. Problem of Guilt -a character’s sense of guilt forced by the puritanical heritage or by society; also guilt vs. innocence.

4. Pride – Hawthorne treats pride as evil. He illustrates the following aspects of pride in various characters: physical pride (Robin), spiritual pride (Goodman Brown, Ethan Brand), and intellectual pride (Rappaccini).

5. Puritan New England – used as a background and setting in many tales.

6. Italian background – especially in The Marble Faun.

7. Allegory – Hawthorne’s writing is allegorical, didactic and moralistic.

8. Other themes include individual versus society, self-fulfillment versus accommodation or frustration, hypocrisy versus integrity, love versus hate, and fate versus free will.

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