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Edgar Allen Poe - Premature Burial

Uploaded by Bosindy2 on Dec 09, 2001

During the nineteenth century, there was a common fear that plagued the Americans and Europeans alike; this was the fear of premature burial. Doctors during this era lacked the modern medical knowledge that we now posses and would sometimes pronounce people dead who were in comas or even unconscious. The assumed dead would then awake during the funeral service or even once buried. After this began to become a common occurrence, the people started to make many precautions in the burying the dead. They would bury a person with a crowbar and shovel in case of premature burial; the person could get himself or herself out of the coffin. Another method was to leave the dead lying out of their caskets for a week to assure that they were dead. The most popular method, however, was the Bateson Revival Device, which was a bell attached to the hand of the deceased that was connected to a tube to the above ground. The alarm would sound at the slightest movement, signaling that the person was not dead.

This great and common fear was present in even the writings of many American and European writers. Most significantly were the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe incorporated the idea of life after burial in many of his stories. This could be because Poe himself was afraid of this happening to him. Whatever the reason may be, premature burial was a common theme is the stories of Poe that made the stories more exciting because the events could possibly happen in real life.

In the story, "The Tell-Tale Heart", a man who is tormented by the eye of his elderly living companion is driven to murder. After the murder, he cuts the man up and places his body parts in the floorboards and cleans everything up. After a while, the man starts to hear a noise, as he describes "A low, dull, quick sound - much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton." The sound of the old man's heart which he had heard hours before in the dark bedroom before he killed him. The sound finally drives him to reveal his deed to the police. Although it would have been physically impossible for the old man to still be alive under the floor, the idea of live burial is still present. The narrator's madness, or as he calls it, "acuteness...

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Uploaded by:   Bosindy2

Date:   12/09/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (912 words)

Views:   2203

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