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Mary Caroline Dansky


Mrs. Kirschner
English II Block 3
9 October 2015
Dark Romanticism According to Poe and Melville
Dark Romanticism is a type of Transcendentalism. This subgenre is dark and horrific.
Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville are Dark Romantic writers who perfectly capture all of
the aspects of this type of writing; horrific and dark, theme, tone, symbols, imagery, and
figurative language.
Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville are both Dark Romantic writers. They are both
transcendentalists and were successful writers. They showed their dark romantics through all
their stories and poems, including The Black Cat, The Lightning-Rod Man, and A Dream
Within a Dream.
The Black Cat, by Edgar Allan Poe is an incredibly creepy tale, full of Dark
Romanticism. This story heavily symbolic and filled with creepy, gory images, the title itself
represents evil. The black cat in the story clearly represents bad luck and evil. This is expressed
by the narrators wife, having made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which
regarded all black cats as witches in disguise (Poe 1). After the first cat is killed, Poe used the
second cat as a symbol of the mans guilt over the murder of the first black cat. He also writes
with vivid and intense imagery, especially when he hangs his cat and kills and disposes of his
wife. Both were told with incredibly eerie details, which has the reader picturing the black cat
hanging from the gallows, and the axe slipping from the narrators hands into the head of his
lovely wife. Lastly, very intricate disassembly and reassembly of his basement in the process of

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hiding his wifes body. Among other things symbols and imagery are not the only aspects of,
The Black Cat that make this story great, and filled with dark romantics.
The Black Cat is not just composed of symbols and images; it was crafted with unique
figures of speech, tone, and theme. This story is told in the first person. This gives the story
more of a realistic vibe, which contributes to the tone. This piece is dark, horrific, and disturbed
all at the same time. It is just a creepy story, told by a demented narrator. The theme is that a
guilty conscious can control someones life, which perfectly describes the plot. Poe does not use
an insane amount of figurative speech, but uses several metaphors and similes that contribute to
the strangeness of the narrator. He uses similes, such as this one, I came to look upon it with
unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a
pestilence (Poe 4). The Black Cat is a great example of Dark Romantics with all of its truly
dark aspects including; symbols, imagery, figurative speech, theme, and tone. The Lightning
Rod Man by Herman Melville also uses similar techniques to enrich his short story.
The Lightning Rod Man is a story, by Herman Melville, that is also considered to be
dark romantic. The principal theme is God and nature against technology. The story has a
gloomy, yet very dramatic tone. The symbols shape the theme in this story. The three main
symbols are the lightning rod itself, the salesman, and the hearth. The lightning rod represents a
false idol, and skepticism in God, while the hearth represents God. The homeowner in the story
does not fall into fear, when he says, Thank-you again, I think I will try my old stand the
hearth (Melville 5). The salesman represents the devil and temptation. He is constantly
working to fill the mans mind with fear that God cannot protect him and that he needs to buy a
lightning rod to protect him. The point of view is in the third person, which works especially
well for the story because there are no bias opinions about the other person. There is not much

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figurative language, but there are some similes when the salesman says, One rod will answer for
a house so small as this (Melville 7). This was an interesting story conveying transcendentalism
by the theme of nature vs. science.
Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe uses all of the aspects of Dark Romanticism. The
theme is evil in a person's surrounding, or the evil in nature, and plays an essential role in
determining the tone. This poem has a horrific tone. Poe does not use an insane amount of
imagery, except when he says, And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side (Poe 36).
Readers can picture the narrator laying on the shore dreaming about his past lover. The strongest
symbol in the piece is the ocean, symbolizes the evils in the world. The most dynamic aspect of
the poem is the figurative language. There is a significant amount of personification in the piece
especially when the narrator says, That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling / And killing my
Annabel (Poe 25-26). Annabel Lee is a great example of Dark Romanticism with a strong
theme, tone, use of figurative language, and symbols.
These short stories and poems are excellent examples to show all of the characteristics of
Poe and Melvilles work and Dark Romanticism.

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Bibliography
Poe, Edgar Allan. "Annabel Lee -." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. N.p., n.d.
Web. 9 Oct. 2015.
"The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe." Edgar Allan Poe, Short Stories, Tales, and Poems. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.
Melville, Herman. ""The Lightning-rodMan"" The Life and Works of Herman Melville. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.