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THE FALL OF HOUSE OF USHER/Plot summary An unnamed narrator approaches the house of Usher on a dull, dark, and soundless

day. This housethe estate of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usheris gloomy and mysterious. The narrator observes that the house seems to have absorbed an evil and diseased atmosphere from the decaying trees and murky ponds around it. He notes that although the house is decaying in placesindividual stones are disintegrating, for examplethe structure itself is fairly solid. There is only a small crack from the roof to the ground in the front of the building. He has come to the house because his friend Roderick sent him a letter earnestly requesting his company. Roderick wrote that he was feeling physically and emotionally ill, so the narrator is rushing to his assistance. The narrator mentions that the Usher family, though an ancient clan, has never flourished. Only one member of the Usher family has survived from generation to generation, thereby forming a direct line of descent without any outside branches. The Usher family has become so identified with its estate that the peasantry confuses the inhabitants with their home.

The narrator finds the inside of the house just as spooky as the outside. He makes his way through the long passages to the room where Roderick is waiting. He notes that Roderick is paler and less energetic than he once was. Roderick tells the narrator that he suffers from nerves and fear and that his senses are heightened. The narrator also notes that Roderick seems afraid of his own house. Rodericks sister, Madeline, has taken ill with a mysterious sicknessperhaps catalepsy, the loss of control of ones limbsthat the doctors cannot reverse. The narrator spends several days trying to cheer up Roderick. He listens to Roderick play the guitar and make up words for his songs, and he reads him stories, but he cannot lift Rodericks spirit. Soon, Roderick posits his theory that the house itself is unhealthy, just as the narrator supposes at the beginning of the story. Madeline soon dies, and Roderick decides to bury her temporarily in the tombs below the house. He wants to keep her in the house because he fears that the doctors might dig up her body for scientific examination, since her disease was so strange to them. The narrator helps Roderick put the body in the tomb, and he notes that Madeline has rosy cheeks, as some do after death. The narrator also realizes suddenly that Roderick and Madeline were twins. Over the next few days, Roderick becomes even more uneasy. One night, the narrator cannot sleep either. Roderick knocks on his door, apparently hysterical. He leads the narrator to the window, from which they see a bright-looking gas surrounding the house. The narrator tells Roderick that the gas is a natural phenomenon, not altogether uncommon. The narrator decides to read to Roderick in order to pass the night away. He reads Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning, a medieval romance. As he reads, he hears noises that correspond to the descriptions in the story. At first, he ignores these sounds as the vagaries of his imagination. Soon, however, they become more distinct and he can no longer ignore them. He also notices that Roderick has slumped over in his chair and is muttering to himself. The narrator approaches Roderick and listens to what he is saying. Roderick reveals that he has been hearing these sounds for days, and believes that they have buried Madeline alive and that she is trying to escape. He yells that she is standing behind the door. The wind blows open the door and confirms Rodericks fears: Madeline stands in white robes bloodied from her struggle. She attacks Roderick as the life drains from her, and he dies of fear. The narrator flees the house. As he escapes, the entire house cracks along the break in the frame and crumbles to the ground. Analysis The Fall of the House of Usher possesses the quintessential -features of the Gothic tale: a haunted house, dreary landscape, mysterious sickness, and doubled personality. For all its easily identifiable Gothic elements, however, part of the terror of this story is its vagueness. We cannot say for sure where in the world or exactly when the story takes place. Instead of standard narrative markers of place and time, Poe uses traditional Gothic elements such as inclement weather and a barren landscape. We are alone with the narrator in this haunted space, and neither we nor the -narrator know why. Although he is Rodericks most intimate boyhood friend, the narrator apparently does not know much about himlike the basic fact that Roderick has a twin sister. Poe asks us to question the reasons both for Rodericks decision to contact the narrator in this time of need and the bizarre tenacity of narrators response. While Poe provides the recognizable building blocks of the Gothic tale, he contrasts this standard form with a plot that is inexplicable, sudden, and full of unexpected disruptions. The story begins without complete explanation of the narrators motives for arriving at the house of Usher, and this ambiguity sets the tone for a plot that continually blurs the real and the fantastic. Poe creates a sensation of claustrophobia in this story. The narrator is mysteriously trapped by the lure of Rodericks attraction, and he cannot escape until the house of Usher collapses completely. Characters cannot move and act freely in the house because of its structure, so it assumes a monstrous character of its ownthe Gothic mastermind that controls the fate of its inhabitants. Poe, creates confusion between the living things and inanimate objects by doubling the physical house of Usher with the genetic family line of the Usher family, which he refers to as the house of Usher. Poe employs the word house metaphorically, but he also describes a real house. Not only does the narrator get trapped inside the mansion, but we learn also that this confinement describes the biological fate of the Usher family. The family has no enduring branches, so all genetic transmission has occurred incestuously within the domain of the house. The peasantry confuses the mansion with the family because the physical structure has effectively dictated the genetic patterns of the family. The claustrophobia of the mansion affects the relations among characters. For example, the narrator realizes late in the game that Roderick and Madeline are twins, and this realization occurs as the two men prepare to entomb Madeline. The cramped and confined setting of the burial tomb metaphorically spreads to the features of the characters. Because the twins are so similar, they cannot develop as free individuals. Madeline is buried before she has actually died because her similarity to Roderick is like a coffin that holds her identity. Madeline also suffers from problems typical for women in -nineteenth--century literature. She invests all of her identity in her body, whereas Roderick possesses the powers of intellect. In spite of this disadvantage, Madeline possesses the power in the story, almost superhuman at times, as when she breaks out of her tomb. She thus counteracts Rodericks weak, nervous, and immobile disposition. Some scholars have argued that Madeline does not even exist, reducing her to a shared figment Rodericks and the narrators imaginations. But Madeline proves central to the symmetrical and claustrophobic logic of the tale. Madeline stifles

Roderick by preventing him from seeing himself as essentially different from her. She completes this attack when she kills him at the end of the story. Doubling spreads throughout the story. The tale highlights the Gothic feature of the doppelganger, or character double, and portrays doubling in inanimate structures and literary forms. The narrator, for example, first witnesses the mansion as a reflection in the tarn, or shallow pool, that abuts the front of the house. The mirror image in the tarn doubles the house, but upside downan inversely symmetrical relationship that also characterizes the relationship between Roderick and Madeline. The story features numerous allusions to other works of literature, including the poems The Haunted Palace and Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning. Poe composed them himself and then fictitiously attributed them to other sources. Both poems parallel and thus predict the plot line of The Fall of the House of Usher. Mad Trist, which is about the forceful entrance of Ethelred into the dwelling of a hermit, mirrors the simultaneous escape of Madeline from her tomb. Mad Trist spookily crosses literary borders, as though Rodericks obsession with these poems ushers their narratives into his own domain and brings them to life. The crossing of borders pertains vitally to the Gothic horror of the tale. We know from Poes experience in the magazine industry that he was obsessed with codes and word games, and this story amplifies his obsessive interest in naming. Usher refers not only to the mansion and the family, but also to the act of crossing a -threshold that brings the narrator into the perverse world of Roderick and Madeline. Rodericks letter ushers the narrator into a world he does not know, and the presence of this outsider might be the factor that destroys the house. The narrator is the lone exception to the Ushers fear of outsiders, a fear that accentuates the claustrophobic nature of the tale. By undermining this fear of the outside, the narrator unwittingly brings down the whole structure. A similar, though strangely playful crossing of a boundary transpires both in Mad Trist and during the climactic burial escape, when Madeline breaks out from death to meet her mad brother in a tryst, or meeting, of death. Poe thus buries, in the fictitious gravity of a medieval romance, the puns that garnered him popularity in Americas magazines. Characters Roderick Usher - The owner of the mansion and last male in the Usher line. Roderick functions as a doppelganger, or character double, for his twin sister, Madeline. He represents the mind to her body and suffers from the mental counterpart of her physical illness. Madeline Usher - Rodericks twin sister and victim of catalepsy, a mysterious incapacitating illness. Because the narrator is surprised to discover that Madeline is a twin, she signals the narrators outsider relationship to the house of Usher. Unnamed narrator - Rodericks best boyhood friend. Contacted by Roderick during his emotional distress, the narrator knows little about the house of Usher and is the first outsider to visit the mansion in many years. Main Theme The central theme of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is terror that arises from the complexity and multiplicity of forces that shape human destiny. Dreadful, horrifying events result not from a single, uncomplicated circumstance but from a collision and intermingling of manifold, complex circumstances. In Poes story, the House of Usher falls to ruin for the reasons listed under "Other Themes". Other Themes Evil Evil has been at work in the House of Usher for generations, befouling the residents of the mansion. Roderick Usher's illness is "a constitutional and family evil . . . one for which he despaired to find a remedy," the narrator reports. Usher himself later refers to this evil in Stanza V of "The Haunted Palace," a ballad he sings to the accompaniment of his guitar music. The palace in the ballad represents the House of Usher. The first two lines of Stanza V are as follows: But evil things, in robes of sorrow, Assailed the monarch's high estate. Neither of these references identifies the exact nature of the evil. However, clues in the story suggest that the evil infecting the House of Usher is incest. Early in the story, the narrator implies there has been marriage between relatives: I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. Later, the narrator describes Madeline Usher as her brothers tenderly beloved sisterhis sole companion for long years. He also notes that Roderick Usher's illness "displayed itself in a host of unnatural sensations." Isolation Roderick and Madeline Usher seal themselves inside their mansion, cutting themselves off from friends, ideas, progress. They have become musty and mildewed, sick unto their souls for lack of contact with the outside world. Failure to Adapt The Usher family has become obsolete because it failed to throw off the vestiges of outmoded tradition, a failing reflected by the mansion itself, a symbol of the family. The interior continues to display coats-of-arms and other paraphernalia from the age of kings

and castles. As to the outside, Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves." Madness Roger and Madeline suffer from mental illness characterized by anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. Catalepsy, a symptom of Madelines illness, is a condition that causes muscle rigidity and temporary loss of consciousness and feeling for several minutes, several hours, and, in some cases, more than a day. Generally, it is not an illness in itself but a symptom of an illness, such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, hysteria, alcoholism or a brain tumor. Certain drugs, too, can trigger a cataleptic episode. The victim does not respond to external stimuli, even painful stimuli such as a pinch on the skin. In the past, a victim of catalepsy was sometimes pronounced dead by a doctor unfamiliar with the condition. Apparently, Madeline is not dead when her brother and the narrator entomb her; instead, she is in a state of catalepsy. When she awakens from her trance, she breaks free of her confines, enters her brother's chamber, and falls on him. She and her brother then die together. Besides Roger and Madeline, the narrator himself may suffer from mental instability, given his reaction to the depressing scene he describes in the opening paragraphs. If he is insane, all of the events he describes could be viewed as manifestations of his sick mindillusions, dreams, hallucinations. Mystery From the very beginning, the narrator realizes that he is entering a world of mystery when he crosses the tarn bridge. He observes, "What was itI paused to thinkwhat was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher ? It was a mystery all insoluble." Strange Phenomena The narrator describes the mansion as having a pestilent and mystic vapor enveloping it. He also says Roderick Usher was enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted. Symbolism The Fungus-Ridden Mansion: Decline of the Usher family. The Collapsing Mansion: Fall of the Usher family. The Vacant eye-like Windows of the Mansion: (1) Hollow, cadaverous eyes of Roderick Usher; (2) Madeline Ushers cataleptic gaze; (3) the vacuity of life in the Usher mansion. The Tarn, a Small Lake Encircling the Mansion and Reflecting Its Image: (1) Madeline as the twin of Roderick, reflecting his image and personality; (2) the image of reality which Roderick and the narrator perceive; though the water of the tarn reflects details exactly, the image is upside down, leaving open the possibility that Roderick and the narrator see a false reality; (3) the desire of the Ushers to isolate themselves from the outside world. The Bridge Over the Tarn: The narrator as Roderick Ushers only link to the outside world. The name Usher: An usher is a doorkeeper. In this sense, Roderick Usher opens the door to a frightening world for the narrator. The Storm: The turbulent emotions experienced by the characters. Foreshadowing The narrator's reference to catalepsydescribing Madeline Usher as having affections of a partially cataleptical character foreshadows her burial while she is still alive. Madeline as Target of Murder Plot Although physicians are incapable of curing Madelines illness, they recognize transient catalepsy as one of its symptoms, the narrator reports. This information means that both Roderick and the narrator are aware that Madeline occasionally enters trances resembling rigor mortis. Furthermore, the narrator reports that Madeline has the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face before he and Roderick screw down the coffin lid. One may theorize, then, that Roderick and the narrator are aware that Madeline is still alive when they close her coffin and, therefore, that they are attempting to commit murder. If that is what they are doing, the next question that arises is why. Here is a possible scenario: Roderick, as Madelines twin, is united to her in looks and personality. The narrator even suggests that they communicate through extrasensory perception, pointing out that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them. There is a possibility, too, that they are partners in incestwhich, in their case, would be a kind of narcissism, or self-love, because they would be making love to their own image. Now to the motives: It may be that Roderick is longing for independence; he does not want to be simply a mirror image or alter ego of his sister. Also, he may wish to end the oppressive guilt he suffers under the burden of the family evil, incest. (See Other Themes, Evil.) It may be, too, that he wants to rid himself of the illness Madeline passes on to him via the sympathies described above. So he decides to eliminate her. He summons his friend (the narrator) to commiserate with him, hearten him, and help him dispose of Madeline while she is in the throes of a cataleptic trance. After awakening from the trance, Madelinerefusing to allow Roderick to dissever their relationship summons unearthly strength to break out of her coffin and the vault. Then, after entering her brothers chamber, she thrusts herself upon him and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated. Their bodies locked, they go to their doom as a single, pitiful lump of humanity.

Summary of The Philosophy of Composition The Philosophy of Composition was published in 1846. In this essay Poe analyses how effect, length, province, tone and refrain contributes to the construction of a good poem. He examines his poem The Raven and establishes what is important in poetry. Poe disagrees with some authors who consider a poem as accident or product of frenzy. He affirms that a poem is a result of hard work in which the author has to advance step by step. A poem is as complex as a mathematical problem. The first thing to be determined about a poem is the effect. Keeping originality in view, the author must choose an effect that touches the heart, the intellect and the soul. It can be constructed by incident, tone or a combination of events. The second essential point to poetry is length. Poe declares that a good work has to be short enough to be read in one sitting. If it requires two sittings, the unity of impression is damaged. According to Poe, brevity is linked to the intensity of the effect. Consequently, a long poem can produce no effect at all its only a succession of brief poetical effects. The author established a good length for his poems: one hundred lines (The Raven has a hundred and eight lines). Another important object in poetry is the real province of the poem. Poe considers beauty as the heart of poetry. According to the author, the most intense pleasure is found in the contemplation of the beautiful. Other objects, such as truth and passion, are completely opponent to beauty because they require a certain extent in poetry, damaging the essence of poetry. The fourth point answered by Poe is about the tone. According the writer, the most genuine of all the poetical tones is melancholy. Combined with beauty, it invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. The next important point in poetry is the refrain. As the author says, it is not limited to lyric verse, but it depends on the force of monotone (words pronounced with the same volume and tone). Repetition combined with monotone creates a sense of identity to the poem. In the case of The Raven, Poe chose the sonority of the vowel o in connection with the consonant r. Once he selected a sonorous sound, he should find a word that embodies this sound. He decided to pick up the word nevermore to be part of the refrain of his composition. However, the repetition of nevermore by a person would seem tedious in the poem. Thus, Poe had the idea of a non-reasoning creature capable of speech to repeat the word. Finally, he chose a raven, a bird of ill-omen to say nevermore at the end of each stanza of his composition. In order to achieve perfection, Poe looked for a melancholy topic. He realized that death is the most melancholy topic, and the death of a beautiful woman, the most poetical topic in the world, is related to that concept of beauty he mentioned before. The author imagined the Raven pronouncing the word nevermore to answer the questions of the lover, who is self-torturing himself by insisting to ask the Raven. To bring the lover and the bird together, Poe thought about the lovers chamber, a place in which all memories of the lover would take place. The author introduced the bird flapping its wings against the shutter inducing the lover to think someone is tapping at his door. The bird sat on the bust of Pallas (the bust was chosen because of the sonority of the word Pallas and because the author wanted to reinforce the scholarship of the lover) and started answering the queries of the lover. In conclusion, Poe affirms that some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation and some amount of suggestiveness of meaning are required to an artist. According to him, the biggest objective is originality. This is not a matter of impulse or intuition; it is a result of hard work. He pretended not to be original in rhythm or metre in The Raven, but he combined novel effects and the principles of rhyme and alliteration in each stanza to find originality. INTERPRETATION Clues to whether or not Poe actually revealed his writing method in "The Philosophy of Composition" can be found in the essay itself. Poe often advises the writer to do what is ordinarily done; for example, when he explains how he chose the refrain as the pivot of "The Raven," he says he chose it above all other devices because "no one had been so universally applied as that of the refrain" (p. 199). He further advises a writer to rely on themes that are "universally appreciable" and tones that allow for "universal understanding" (p. 201)as if universality is most important, as if it is best to please the mob. Yet, considering that "The Raven" accomplished its goal of pleasing both "the popular and the critical taste," it is no wonder that Poe chose this poem as the concrete example for explicating his "modus operandi" (p. 195). But anyone who knows Poe's work knows a concern for universality would not be utmost in his mind at all times. Granted, he did wish his poetry and fiction to be read and, more importantly, to sell, but his aesthetic principles went far beyond a mere desire to please the populace and earn a living. Poe wanted to be remembered as a poet even though most of his career was spent as a critic and magazine writer. In 1848, a year before his death, Poe dedicated his prose poem Eureka, the work he considered the culmination of his writing career, "to those who feel rather than to those who thinkto the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities" (Poe, Eureka, p. 5). In Eureka, Poe defines intuition as "the conviction arising from those inductions or deductions of which the processes are so shadowy as to escape our consciousness, elude our reason, or defy our capacity of expression" (p. 22). This assertion counters his claim in "The Philosophy of Composition" that writers who claim "ecstatic intuition" as the means of production are deluding themselves and others (p. 194). Yet Poe valued most an "under-current" of meaning in a poem or narrative, and Poe's pupil can nowhere find the rule for creating this "suggestiveness" in Poe's "Philosophy." Such "suggestiveness" more often than not is created by a process akin to the definition of intuition found in Eureka. Those who follow the steps outlined in "The Philosophy of Composition" would be remiss were they to think that that would be all they need to do to create an "art product." Poems or narratives produced in this way, Poe claims, would "repel the artistical eye" because they lack "adaptation" and "suggestiveness," the two aspects of writing that cannot be taught (p. 207). Careful readers of Poe's essay would be confounded by what they find in the penultimate paragraph. Here Poe states, "Holding these opinions, I added the two concluding stanzas of the poemtheir suggestiveness being thus made to pervade all the narrative which has preceded them" (p. 208). Should not those two last stanzas have been conceived first, according to what Poe says in his

introduction? How could he "add" these two stanzas to make the rest resonate with "suggestiveness," when Poe ostensibly holds to the rule of having "the end always in view"? Like the Prefect in Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter," do readers overlook what is "in plain view"? Do they overlook evidence "by dint of [its] being excessively obvious"? (Poe, "The Purloined Letter," p. 990). This glaring but subtle contradiction makes the reader question Poe's "sincerity" and purpose in writing "The Philosophy of Composition." Other hints throughout are not quite so obvious but persistent nonetheless. For example, Poe's insistence on "universality" as a primary consideration for many compositional decisions is suspect. Finally, his direct statement that "from out my heart" is "the first metaphorical expression in the poem" is outright dissembling (p. 208). Poe's essay holds the clues to its project: to purport to reveal all the "modus operandi" while withholding the essential components that transform technical prowess into art. Nonetheless, Poe's "Philosophy of Composition" illuminates many of the principles that make Poe's writing so engaging: unity of effect, adaptation of complexity, suggestiveness, careful attention to form as a reflection of content, and a fascination with death and perversity. . Summary of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Stanza 1: It's late. The poem's speaker is tired and weak, reading an old collection of folklore (note that Ravens are prevalent in folklore). As he's about to fall asleep, he hears something tapping at his door. The speaker, somewhat startled, consoles himself by muttering "tis some visitor" and "nothing more." Stanza 1 Analysis: The ambiguity of the narrator's mental state is introduced in the first stanza and becomes a topic of debate throughout the entire poem. Keep in mind that it's late and the narrator is extremely tired. It's quite possible he dreams the entire episode. Stanza 2: We are told this incident takes place in December and that the narrator had been reading in order to forget about his lost love, Lenore. Stanza 2 Analysis: Stanza 2 provides background information. The incident takes place in December and the narrator suffers from depression. He is searching desperately to end his sorrow. The mood, somewhat established in Stanza 1 with "midnight dreary" and "forgotten lore," becomes entrenched as Poe includes details such as "bleak December," dying ember," "ghost upon the floor," sorrow," and a bevvy of alliterative phrases and words with Anglo-Saxon roots. Summary of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Stanzas: 3-5 Stanza 3: To combat the fear caused by the wind blown curtains, the narrator repeats that the commotion is merely a visitor at the door. Stanza 3 Analysis: The opening line of the stanza contains the greatest example of consonance, alliteration, and internal rhyme in the history of poetry. Why the speaker is so frightened by the curtains fluttering in the wind is unclear. It could be a demonic movement of the curtains, which would cause even the most stalwart individual to mutter to himself, or the speaker could be crazy. Stanza 4: The narrator musters the courage to speak to the "visitor" at his door. Nobody answers. He opens the door and sees only darkness. Stanza 4 Analysis: Things are getting stranger by the stanza. Poe builds suspense by delaying the unveiling of the "visitor." Stanza 5: The narrator stares into the darkness. He stares. He stares some more. He starts dreaming about the impossible and finally whispers "Lenore." "Lenore" is echoed back. Stanza 5 Analysis: We begin to sense the heartbreak experienced by the narrator. He so longs for his lost love that he begins whispering her name, desperately hoping for a response. Does he actually hear a response or is he hallucinating? Stanza 6: The narrator returns to his chamber and soon hears a louder tapping, this time at his window. He decides to explore the noise, telling himself it is merely the wind. Stanza 6 Analysis: Like the narrator, you're probably wondering when something's going to happen. The narrator is in denial. He knows something is there, but refuses to acknowledge it. Stanza 7: The narrator opens the shutter and a raven flies in. He ignores the occupant and perches himself on a statue of Pallas Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom. Stanza 7 Analysis: The mystery has been solved. It's just a bird! Something tells me this bird is no ordinary feathered friend. Stanza 8: The narrator is relieved and somewhat amused by the bird's appearance. He asks the raven its name and he replies, "Nevermore." Stanza 8 Analysis: We are presented with symbols of night and death in stanza 8: the "ebony" bird; "grave and stern decorum"; "nightly shore"; "Night's Plutonian (the Roman underworld) shore." Stanza 9: The narrator marvels at this strange bird who has entered his room.

Stanza 9 Analysis: Our bewildered narrator has no idea what to make of this bird, much like I'm not sure what to say about this stanza. Stanza 10: The Raven just sits there and says "nevermore." The narrator, a little spooked by the entire episode mutters the bird will probably just leave tomorrow. Stanza 10 Analysis: There is something in the word "nevermore" that brings despair to the narrator. He believes the raven is pouring out his soul with each utterance of the word, similar to the pouring out of the narrator's soul as he longs for the return of Lenore. Stanza 11: The narrator rationalizes that the raven's repetition of "nevermore" has nothing to do with his own hopeless state, and that the word is the only one the bird knows. He creates a plausible story about the bird probably having escaped from his master who met an ill fate at sea. Stanza 11 Analysis: The narrator experiences the paranoia/denial cycle. He unreasonably believes the raven is some bad omen, which it then becomes, omens being nothing more than a negative psychological interpretation of an otherwise neutral event, followed by a complete negation with an implausible explanation. The narrator's nuts. Stanza 12: The narrator wheels his chair around, stares at the bird, and attempts to figure out what this all means. Stanza 12 Analysis: Although the narrator draws no explicit conclusion, descriptive words such as "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt" displays the narrator's negative attitude toward the strange visitor. Enjoy this analysis of "The Raven" by E.A. Poe with stanza summaries. Stanza 13: The narrator stares at the bird, whose eyes appear to be on fire and burn the narrator's heart. He ponders how he will nevermore see his lost Lenore. Stanza 13 Analysis: There's a raven in the living room with fiery eyes staring at the narrator and all he can think about is some girl! Stanza 14: The narrator senses the arrival of angels who burn incense. He suspects the raven's purpose is to help the narrator forget about his sorrows. He asks to drink a magic potion for that purpose. The raven replies, "nevermore." Stanza 14 Analysis: Angels arrive. The narrator hopes that he will be spared despair and sorrow. He's wrong. Key words in this stanza: quaff means to drink; nepenthe is a drug used in ancient times to make people forget their sorrows. Stanza 15: The narrator asks the raven if he is evil. He then asks the raven if he has brought healing. The raven replies, "nevermore." Stanza 15 Analysis: Despite several declarations by the raven himself that he is not there for good, the narrator holds on to the slim hope that the raven can help him forget his sorrows. The allusion to "balm in Gilead" in line 89 is an allusion to the Book of Job in the Old Testament. It is the same questioned asked by Job after losing his family, fortune, friends, and health. Summary of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven: Stanzas: 16-18 Enjoy this analysis of "The Raven" by E.A. Poe with stanza summaries. Stanza 16: The narrator asks the raven if he will ever see Lenore in heaven. The raven answers, "nevermore." Stanza 16 Analysis: The narrator isn't the smartest guy alive. He again asks the raven if he will be relieved of his suffering and at least be able to see Lenore in paradise. The raven answered "nevermore." At this point I'm getting really annoyed with the narrator. He's wallowing in self pity and enjoying every second of it. He knows what the raven's answer will be, yet he purposely asks questions that will justify him feeling sorry for himself. It's time to move on. Stanza 17: The narrator commands the bird to leave. The bird says, "nevermore." Stanza 17 Analysis: The narrator is once again surprised by the raven's negative response. I'm not. Stanza 18: The raven remains sitting. He overshadows the narrator, whose soul will never see happiness again. Stanza 18 Analysis: Boo! Hoo! Get a gun and shoot that freaking bird already! The raven's shadow most likely symbolizes sadness. It covers the narrator's soul, symbolic of the narrator never being happy again. Some claim the last stanza relates the narrator's death. They're wrong. The shadow remains on the floor and It's the narrator's soul that will never climb out from under the shadow of sadness. If you're teacher tells you he died, tell him he's wrong. If he disagrees, ask him how a dead man can narrate a poem. Symbolism Lenore: The narrator gives no description of Lenore. We do not know what she looks like or what exactly the relationship between Lenore and the narrator is. All we know is that the narrator really misses her. The lack of details regarding Lenore makes her a likely symbol. She may represent idealized love, beauty, truth, or hope in a better world. She is "rare and radiant" we are told several times, an angelic description, perhaps symbolic of heaven. Lenore may symbolize truth: the narrator cannot help but think of her, and her ubiquitous, yet elusive, nature haunts the narrative.

The Raven: The most obvious symbol is contained in the poem's title. The raven enters the room imperiously and holds dominion over the narrator. The bird's darkness symbolizes death; hence, death becomes a constant reminder, an imperious intruder. If taken in a broader context, the poem may be about the inability of man to escape his ultimate fate, a reoccurring theme in Poe's short works. Night's Plutonian Shore: The phrase "Night's Plutonian Shore" incorporates all the negative aspects associated with death. Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld; hence, his shore would be the underworld. Combined with "night," a common symbol for death and nothingness, and shore, representative of the vast ocean and all its mysterious inhabitants, Plutonian takes on an enhanced meaning. Nepenthe: The narrator desperately searches for something that will remove his pain and suffering. This is symbolized by Nepenthe, an ancient drug used to help one relieve sorrows. The Bust of Pallas: Pallas Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom. It is upon this wisdom that the raven settles, adding credence, at least according to the narrator, to its utterances. The bust of Pallas and the raven's subsequent perch on it may be ironic, for it is the narrator that gives the bird such wisdom. A casual observer would assume the bird sits there because it seems like a logical resting place. If you're ever in Europe, note how the pigeons perch themselves on statues in the center of town. Only a moron would assume a bird takes on the character of a statue on which he perches. I don't think, for example, that a bird resting on Napoleon's shoulder suddenly becomes a ruthless general. Midnight: Traditionally referred to as the witching hour and the darkest part of night--midnight is more than a number on the clock. It is no accident that Poe chooses this as the time for the bird's arrival. December: Nothing lives in the winter. December is in the winter. December symbolizes death. Summary a)The short story "Cat in the Rain" was written by Ernest Hemingway in the 1920 s. It is about an American couple that spends their holidays in an Italian hotel. It is a rainy day and the American woman sees a cat in the rain, which she wants to protect from the raindrops. When she goes out of the hotel, which is kept by an old Italian who really seems to do everything to please that woman, and wants to get the cat, it is gone. After returning to the hotel room, she starts a conversation with her husband George, who is reading all the time, telling him how much she wants to have a cat and other things, for instance her own silver to eat with. Her husband seems to be annoyed by that and not interested at all. At the end of the story there is a knock on the door and the maid stands there holding a cat for the American woman in her hands. b)Only two Americans are in the hotel. Their room faces the sea, a public garden, and a war monument. Many Italians come from far away to see the monument. That day, it is raining, and the American wife is looking out the window. She sees a cat under a table that is trying to keep dry. She tells her husband that she is going to get it. He tells her not to get wet. Downstairs, she is greeted by the hotel operator, whose seriousness and willingness to please she adores. When she goes outside, he sends a maid after her with an umbrella. She does not find the cat. She goes back upstairs feeling sad. She asks her husband if she should grow her hair out. He says that he likes it the way that it is. She decides that she wants a bun at the back of her neck, and a cat to stroke, and a table with her own silver, and some new clothing. He tells her to shut up and to find a book to read. She says that she still wants a cat. Just then, someone knocks at the door. It is the maid. She has brought up a cat, at the request of the hotel operator. Peculiarities of the introduction The first thing that caught my eyes was the long description at the beginning. First there is a description of the environment in good weather, which means spring or summer, then a description of the momentary situation in the rain. This description creates an atmosphere that is sad, cold and unfriendly. To create this atmosphere Hemingway uses words such as "empty" or "the motorcars were gone". Later on, by looking at the relationship of the two Americans, you can see that this description was a foreshadowing of the state of the couple s relationship: First it was nice, the spring-time of their love, and now there is only rain, their relationship got cold and unfriendly. Another symbolic hint in this introduction is the war monument, which is mentioned three times. This maybe is done to tell us that a conflict is to be expected. From girl to wife The next thing I wondered about was the spontaneous reaction of the woman after she saw that cat. Usually only children want to protect cats or dogs from the rain, because a grown-up knows that rain does not do any harm to animals living on the street. From that point on you can find an interpretation which is quite complex and not that easy to explain: On the one hand the woman wants to protect that little cat, which now stands for something innocent and vulnerable, like a baby. So she wants to protect that vulnerable thing, which is more the behaviour of an adult. But on the other hand she acts like a little child by having this wish for a cat. Another hint for that is that the woman is referred to as "girl" in the following paragraph, not as "wife" like before. The sequence in which we get to know that she likes the hotelkeeper a lot is next. She likes the way he wants to serve her. Why? Because it gives her the feeling to be grown up, to be treated like a lady. But the other reasons for fancying him originate from a more childish thinking, like the fact that she likes him because of his big hands. To underline this childish behaviour, all sentences in this part begin with "She liked..", which is the typical way of a child to want something: "I like cats, I like chocolate, I like bubble-gum "and so on. When she talks about the cat in this situation, she does not say "cat" but "kitty", which is usually a childish expression as well. The next sentence that seems to be important to me is:" The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time very important. She had a momentary feeling of being of great importance." At this point we can see again the two parts of her personality. The child in her feels very timid because of the presence of this tall, old, serious man, the woman in her feels flattered by the way he cares for her. She seems to be like a girl of about fourteen, still being a child and now slowly noticing the woman inside her.

Marriage problems When she comes back to the hotel room, her husband is still reading. She tells him that she does not know why she wanted that cat so much, but we know it: She feels the need for something to care for, to be responsible for, that makes her grow up, for example having a baby. George does not need all that anymore, because he already is grown up, which is shown by his serious behaviour and that he treats his wife like a child. And now we understand why why they are having problems with their marriage - because they are on different levels: He already is a man, she is still a girl. They cannot find a mutual base for their relationship and that makes her bored by him and him annoyed by her. But George does not understand the problem of his wife and therefore of their relationship, because when she talks about letting her hair grow to make her become more female, he just tells her with disinterest that he likes it the way it is. But her wish for longer hair is only the beginning. She tells him that she wants her own silver to eat with and candles and that cat, standing again for something to be responsible for and new clothes. I am sure that her new clothes would be very female, because all these things stand for the world of a grown-ups. So she utters, without really recognizing it herself, the immense wish to be an adult at last - as quickly as possible. And that is why she is now referred to as "wife" again. The sentence that she wants it to be spring again stands for her huge wish for a new spring in her relationship, now that the process of her growing up has started and she might attempt to find a way to be level with her husband, which maybe will help them to finally find a mutual basis. In the end she gets a cat, brought by the maid on request of the padrone. It is not important if it is the same cat she saw on the street or not, the only thing that matters is that she finally gets something to take responsibility for and that symbolizes the first step in the direction of a grown-up life. Conclusion Altogether I would say that the theme of the story are the problems that a relationship has, when one partner becomes dominant or repressive and the other is trying to change and improve the situation. If they are aware of their problems they might be able to save their marriage, but if they do not recognize that their relationship will become more and more like the depressive weather in this short story, until there will be winter when their love will die. Plot Overview/Young Goodman brown Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith, outside of his house in Salem Village. Faith, wearing pink ribbons in her cap, asks him to stay with her, saying that she feels scared when she is by herself and free to think troubling thoughts. Goodman Brown tells her that he must travel for one night only and reminds her to say her prayers and go to bed early. He reassures her that if she does this, she will come to no harm. Goodman Brown takes final leave of Faith, thinking to himself that she might have guessed the evil purpose of his trip and promising to be a better person after this one night. Goodman Brown sets off on a road through a gloomy forest. He looks around, afraid of what might be behind each tree, thinking that there might be Indians or the devil himself lurking there. He soon comes upon a man in the road who greets Goodman Brown as though he had been expecting him. The man is dressed in regular clothing and looks normal except for a walking stick he carries. This walking stick features a carved serpent, which is so lifelike it seems to move. The man offers Goodman Brown the staff, saying that it might help him walk faster, but Goodman Brown refuses. He says that he showed up for their meeting because he promised to do so but does not wish to touch the staff and wants to return to the village. Goodman Brown tells the man that his family members have been Christians and good people for generations and that he feels ashamed to associate with him. The man replies that he knew Goodman Browns father and grandfather, as well as other members of churches in New England, and even the governor of the state. The mans words confuse Goodman Brown, who says that even if this is so, he wants to return to the village for Faiths sake. At that moment, the two come upon an old woman hobbling through the woods, and Goodman Brown recognizes Goody Cloyse, who he knows to be a pious, respected woman from the village. He hides, embarrassed to be seen with the man, and the man taps Goody Cloyse on the shoulder. She identifies him as the devil and reveals herself to be a witch, on her way to the devils evil forest ceremony. Despite this revelation, Goodman Brown tells the man that he still intends to turn back, for Faiths sake. The man says that Goodman Brown should rest. Before disappearing, he gives Goodman Brown his staff, telling him that he can use it for transport to the ceremony if he changes his mind. As he sits and gathers himself, Goodman Brown hears horses traveling along the road and hides once again. Soon he hears the voices of the minister of the church and Deacon Gookin, who are also apparently on their way to the ceremony. Shocked, Goodman Brown swears that even though everyone else in the world has gone to the devil, for Faiths sake he will stay true to God. However, he soon hears voices coming from the ceremony and thinks he recognizes Faiths voice. He screams her name, and a pink ribbon from her cap flutters down from the sky. Certain that there is no good in the world because Faith has turned to evil, Goodman Brown grabs the staff, which pulls him quickly through the forest toward the ceremony. When he reaches the clearing where the ceremony is taking place, the trees around it are on fire, and he can see in the firelight the faces of various respected members of the community, along with more disreputable men and women and Indian priests. But he doesnt see Faith, and he starts to hope once again that she might not be there.

A figure appears on a rock and tells the congregation to present the converts. Goodman Brown thinks he sees his father beckoning him forward and his mother trying to hold him back. Before he can rethink his decision, the minister and Deacon Gookin drag him forward. Goody Cloyse and Martha Carrier bring forth another person, robed and covered so that her identity is unknown. After telling the two that they have made a decision that will reveal all the wickedness of the world to them, the figure tells them to show themselves to each other. Goodman Brown sees that the other convert is Faith. Goodman Brown tells Faith to look up to heaven and resist the devil, then suddenly finds himself alone in the forest. The next morning Goodman Brown returns to Salem Village, and every person he passes seems evil to him. He sees the minister, who blesses him, and hears Deacon Gookin praying, but he refuses to accept the blessing and calls Deacon Gookin a wizard. He sees Goody Cloyse quizzing a young girl on Bible verses and snatches the girl away. Finally, he sees Faith at his own house and refuses to greet her. Its unclear whether the encounter in the forest was a dream, but for the rest of his life, Goodman Brown is changed. He doesnt trust anyone in his village, cant believe the words of the minister, and doesnt fully love his wife. He lives the remainder of his life in gloom and fear. Character List Goodman Brown - A young resident of Salem and the storys protagonist. Goodman Brown is a good Christian who has recently married Faith. He takes pride in his familys history of piety and their reputation in the community as godly men. His curiosity, however, leads him to accept an invitation from a mysterious traveler to observe an evil ceremony in middle of the forest, one that shocks and disillusions him. Faith - Goodman Browns wife. Faith is young, beautiful, and trusting, and Goodman Brown sees her as the embodiment of virtue. Although Goodman Brown initially ignores Faiths claims to have had disturbing nightmares, seeing her at the evil ceremony in the forest prompts him to question his wifes righteousness. The Old Man/Devil - The man, possibly the devil, who tempts Goodman Brown into attending the ceremony in the forest. The man intercepts Goodman Brown in the middle of the dark road, then presides over the ceremony. He sees through the Salem villagers charade of Christian piety and prides himself on the godly men he has been able to turn to evil. Goody Cloyse - A citizen of Salem Village who reveals herself to be a witch. Goody Cloyse is a Christian woman who helps young people learn the Bible, but in secret she performs magic ceremonies and attends witch meetings in the forest. Goody Cloyse was the name of an actual woman who was tried and convicted of witchcraft during the historical Salem Witch Trials of 1692; Hawthorne borrows her name for this character. The Minister - The minister of Salem. The minister, a respectable pillar of the community, appears to be a follower of the devil. Deacon Gookin - A member of the clergy in Salem who appears to be a follower of the devil. The deacon is an important man in the church of Salem, and Goodman Brown thinks of him as very religious. Themes, Motifs, and Symbols Themes The Weakness of Public Morality In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne reveals what he sees as the corruptibility that results from Puritan societys emphasis on public morality, which often weakens private religious faith. Although Goodman Brown has decided to come into the forest and meet with the devil, he still hides when he sees Goody Cloyse and hears the minister and Deacon Gookin. He seems more concerned with how his faith appears to other people than with the fact that he has decided to meet with the devil. Goodman Browns religious convictions are rooted in his belief that those around him are also religious. This kind of faith, which depends so much on other peoples views, is easily weakened. When Goodman Brown discovers that his father, grandfather, Goody Cloyse, the minister, Deacon Gookin, and Faith are all in league with the devil, Goodman Brown quickly decides that he might as well do the same. Hawthorne seems to suggest that the danger of basing a society on moral principles and religious faith lies in the fact that members of the society do not arrive at their own moral decisions. When they copy the beliefs of the people around them, their faith becomes weak and rootless. The Inevitable Loss of Innocence Goodman Brown loses his innocence because of his inherent corruptibility, which suggests that whether the events in the forest were a dream or reality, the loss of his innocence was inevitable. Instead of being corrupted by some outside force, Goodman Brown makes a personal choice to go into the forest and meet with the devil; the choice was the true danger, and the devil only facilitates Goodman Browns fall. Goodman Brown is never certain whether the evil events of the night are real, but it does not matter. If they are a dream, then they come completely from Goodman Browns heada clear indication of his inherent dark side. If they are real, then Goodman Brown has truly seen that everyone around him is corrupt, and he brought this realization upon himself through his excessive curiosity. Goodman Browns loss of innocence was inevitable, whether the events of the night were real or a dream. The Fear of the Wilderness From the moment he steps into the forest, Goodman Brown voices his fear of the wilderness, seeing the forest as a place where no

good is possible. In this he echoes the dominant point of view of seventeenth-century Puritans, who believed that the wild New World was something to fear and then dominate. Goodman Brown, like other Puritans, associates the forest with the wild Indians and sees one hiding behind every tree. He believes that the devil could easily be present in such a placeand he eventually sees the devil himself, just as he had expected. He considers it a matter of family honor that his forefathers would never have walked in the forest for pleasure, and he is upset when the devil tells him that this was not the case. He himself is ashamed to be seen walking in the forest and hides when Goody Cloyse, the minister, and Deacon Gookin pass. The forest is characterized as devilish, frightening, and dark, and Goodman Brown is comfortable in it only after he has given in to evil. Motifs Female Purity Female purity, a favorite concept of Americans in the nineteenth century, is the steadying force for Goodman Brown as he wonders whether to renounce his religion and join the devil. When he takes leave of Faith at the beginning of the story, he swears that after this one night of evildoing, he will hold onto her skirts and ascend to heaven. This idea, that a mans wife or mother will redeem him and do the work of true religious belief for the whole family, was popular during Hawthornes time. Goodman Brown clings to the idea of Faiths purity throughout his trials in the forest, swearing that as long as Faith remains holy, he can find it in himself to resist the devil. When Goodman Brown finds that Faith is present at the ceremony, it changes all his ideas about what is good or bad in the world, taking away his strength and ability to resist. Female purity was such a powerful idea in Puritan New England that men relied on womens faith to shore up their own. When even Faiths purity dissolves, Goodman Brown loses any chance to resist the devil and redeem his faith. Symbols The Staff The devils staff, which is encircled by a carved serpent, draws from the biblical symbol of the serpent as an evil demon. In the Book of Genesis, the serpent tempts Eve to taste the fruit from the forbidden tree, defying Gods will and bringing his wrath upon humanity. When the devil tells Goodman Brown to use the staff to travel faster, Goodman Brown takes him up on the offer and, like Eve, is ultimately condemned for his weakness by losing his innocence. Besides representing Eves temptation, the serpent represents her curiosity, which leads her into that temptation. Goodman Browns decision to come into the forest is motivated by curiosity, as was Eves decision to eat the forbidden fruit. The staff makes clear that the old man is more demon than human and that Goodman Brown, when he takes the staff for himself, is on the path toward evil as well. Faiths Pink Ribbons The pink ribbons that Faith puts in her cap represent her purity. The color pink is associated with innocence and gaiety, and ribbons themselves are a modest, innocent decoration. Hawthorne mentions Faiths pink ribbons several times at the beginning of the story, imbuing her character with youthfulness and happiness. He reintroduces the ribbons when Goodman Brown is in the forest, struggling with his doubts about the goodness of the people he knows. When the pink ribbon flutters down from the sky, Goodman Brown perceives it as a sign that Faith has definitely fallen into the realm of the devilshe has shed this sign of her purity and innocence. At the end of the story, when Faith greets Goodman Brown as he returns from the forest, she is wearing her pink ribbons again, suggesting her return to the figure of innocence she presented at the beginning of the story and casting doubts on the veracity of Goodman Browns experiences. Historical Context In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne references three dark events from the Puritans history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the Puritan intolerance of the Quakers, and King Philips War. During the Salem Witch Trials, one of the most nightmarish episodes in Puritan history, the villagers of Salem killed twenty-five innocent people who were accused of being witches. The witch hunts often involved accusations based on revenge, jealousy, botched child delivery, and other reasons that had little to do with perceived witchcraft. The Puritan intolerance of Quakers occurred during the second half of the seventeenth century. Puritans and Quakers both settled in America, hoping to find religious freedom and start their own colonies where they could believe what they wanted to. However, Puritans began forbidding Quakers from settling in their towns and made it illegal to be a Quaker; their intolerance soon led to imprisonments and hangings. King Philips War, the final event referenced in Hawthornes story, took place from 1675 to 1676 and was actually a series of small skirmishes between Indians and colonists. Indians attacked colonists at frontier towns in western Massachusetts, and colonists retaliated by raiding Indian villages. When the colonists won the war, the balance of power in the colonies finally tipped completely toward the Puritans. These historical events are not at the center of Young Goodman Brown, which takes place after they occur, but they do inform the action. For example, Hawthorne appropriates the names of Goody Cloyse and Martha Carrier, two of the witches killed at Salem, for townspeople in his story. The devil refers to seeing Goodman Browns grandfather whipping a Quaker in the streets and handing Goodman Browns father a flaming torch so that he could set fire to an Indian village during King Philips War. By including these references, Hawthorne reminds the reader of the dubious history of Salem Village and the legacy of the Puritans and emphasizes the historical roots of Goodman Browns fascination with the devil and the dark side. The Dark Romantics In the nineteenth century, American writers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, were influenced by the European Romantic movement

but added their own nationalistic twist. The most famous European Romantics included William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake. The characteristics of the movement, which began in Germany at the beginning of the eighteenth century, included an interest in the power of the individual; an obsession with extreme experiences, including fear, love, and horror; an interest in nature and natural landscapes; and an emphasis on the importance of everyday events. Some writers in America who drew from the Romantic tradition were James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and the transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. American Romantics in the early nineteenth century tended to celebrate the American landscape and emphasize the idea of the sublime, which glorified their beautiful home country. They also created the concept of an American Romantic hero, who often lived alone in the wilderness, close to the land, such as Coopers Leatherstocking or Thoreau himself at Walden Pond. Young Goodman Brown fits into a subgenre of American Romanticism: the gothic or dark romance. Novels and stories of this type feature vivid descriptions of morbid or gloomy events, coupled with emotional or psychological torment. The dark Romantics joined the Romantic movements emphasis on emotion and extremity with a gothic sensibility, hoping to create stories that would move readers to fear and question their surroundings. Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) and The TellTale Heart (1843), was probably the most famous of the writers to work in the American dark Romantic genre. Goodman Browns encounter with the devil and battle with the evil within himself are both classic elements of a dark Romance. The Fall of Man Young Goodman Brown functions as an allegory of the fall of man, from which Hawthorne draws to illustrate what he sees as the inherent fallibility and hypocrisy in American religion. Hawthorne sets up a story of a man who is tempted by the devil and succumbs because of his curiosity and the weakness of his faith. Like Eve in the book of Genesis, Goodman Brown cannot help himself from wanting to know what lies behind the mystery of the forest. And like Eve, Goodman Brown is rewarded for his curiosity with information that changes his life for the worse. In the course of the ceremony in the forest, the devil tells Goodman Brown and Faith that their eyes will now be opened to the wickedness of themselves and those around them. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden and forced to undergo all the trials and tribulations of being human, and Goodman Brown returns from the forest to find that the joy in life has been taken away from him. He has become suspicious of those around him, even the woman he once loved. SUMMARY Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is by far one of my favorite works of modern poetry. The pensive, unhurried mood of the poem is reflected with a calm rich imagery that creates a vivid mental picture. The simple words and rhyme scheme of the poem give it an easy flow, which adds to the tranquility of the piece. Every aspect of the poem builds off the others to put the mind into the calm of a winter evening. The first stanza of the poem is rather simple and provides the basis for the imagery. It mentions the woods and implies that they are located away from town and civilization his house is in the village though. It also shows the easy pace that speaker is taking, having plenty of time to simply watch the falling snow. As I think about them, the words of the first stanza are not overtly somber, they do however through their order and the way they were chosen create a rather pensive mood. The second stanza provides a more in depth view of the imagery sketched out in the first; it also provides a more definite time and location. The first two lines of this stanza firmly place the reader rather deep in the woods and away from any dwelling. He is so far out in fact that his horse is puzzled by his actions. The next line gives a better image of the scene Between the woods and frozen lake; it seems to be a rather quiet and lonely place. The next line then provides that it is night and very dark, either emotionally or actually. I think that Frost intended to make that line rather ambiguous The darkest evening of the year, It can either be taken literally as the most lightless night, or it can be taken as the night of the darkest emotions. I think that it is a combination of the two, a dark moonless winter night in which the speaker experiences some form of depression or loneliness. The third stanza of the poem brings the strangeness of the situation to a head. The only other living being in this cold lonely landscape, the speaker's horse takes action to find the reason for the odd stopping. The noise from the inquisitive harness bells provide contrast to the quiet of the scene, where the only other sounds a wind and snow. The descriptions of the sounds provide a little insight to the speaker's mindset and position. He is so still that he can here the soft fall of the downy flake and hear the movement of the easy wind. This also shows a great calm and patience that the speaker must posses. The final stanza of the poem brings all the sentiments of the poem together, an intense love and awe of nature, a never ending patience and some unknown task or problem that robs the speaker of rest. The dark and deep woods seem to reflect the speaker, his dark emotion and depth of character. There stillness also contrasts with the need of the repeated closing lines And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep. These final lines represent the problem that has plagued the speaker and that is most likely responsible for his dark mood. It is something that is undefined that does not demand a rush to deal with, but is important enough to demand attention. The poem as a whole, is a simple effigy of a quiet thoughtful night. I can easily relate to the poem, the emotions it describes and the way that the images are presented. The careless ease with which the poem is read is vital to the poem as a whole. Also this is my favorite poem, I didn't have to open the book to remember it, only to see its format again. It reminds me of the moods I feel on snowy nights or early mornings. I live in the woods and before I drove; I often walked through them as a shortcut to visit friends, so I have many memories of stopping by a neighbors wood on an easy walk home, and watching the snow slowly fall. FORM The poem consists of four (almost) identically constructed stanzas. Each line is iambic, with four stressed syllables: Within the four lines of each stanza, the first, second, and fourth lines rhyme. The third line does not, but it sets up the rhymes for the next stanza. For example, in the third stanza, queer, near, and year all rhyme, but lake rhymes with shake, mistake, and flake in the following stanza. The notable exception to this pattern comes in the final stanza, where the third line rhymes with the previous two and is repeated as the fourth line.

Do not be fooled by the simple words and the easiness of the rhymes; this is a very difficult form to achieve in English without debilitating a poems content with forced rhymes. COMMENTARY This is a poem to be marveled at and taken for granted. Like a big stone, like a body of water, like a strong economy, however it was forged it seems that, once made, it has always been there. Frost claimed that he wrote it in a single nighttime sitting; it just came to him. Perhaps one hot, sustained burst is the only way to cast such a complete object, in which form and content, shape and meaning, are alloyed inextricably. One is tempted to read it, nod quietly in recognition of its splendor and multivalent meaning, and just move on. But one must write essays. Or study guides.

Like the woods it describes, the poem is lovely but entices us with dark depthsof interpretation, in this case. It stands alone and beautiful, the account of a man stopping by woods on a snowy evening, but gives us a come-hither look that begs us to load it with a full inventory of possible meanings. We protest, we make apologies, we point to the dangers of reading poetry in this way, but unlike the speaker of the poem, we cannot resist. The last two lines are the true culprits. They make a strong claim to be the most celebrated instance of repetition in English poetry. The first And miles to go before I sleep stays within the boundaries of literalness set forth by the rest of the poem. We may suspect, as we have up to this point, that the poem implies more than it says outright, but we cant insist on it; the poem has gone by so fast, and seemed so straightforward. Then comes the second And miles to go before I sleep, like a soft yet penetrating gong; it can be neither ignored nor forgotten. The sound it makes is Ahhh. And we must read the verses again and again and offer trenchant remarks and explain the Ahhh in words far inferior to the poem. For the last miles to go now seems like life; the last sleep now seems like death. The basic conflict in the poem, resolved in the last stanza, is between an attraction toward the woods and the pull of responsibility outside of the woods. What do woods represent? Something good? Something bad? Woods are sometimes a symbol for wildness, madness, the pre-rational, the looming irrational. But these woods do not seem particularly wild. They are someones woods, someones in particularthe owner lives in the village. But that owner is in the village on this, the darkest evening of the yearso would any sensible person be. That is where the division seems to lie, between the village (or society, civilization, duty, sensibility, responsibility) and the woods (that which is beyond the borders of the village and all it represents). If the woods are not particularly wicked, they still possess the seed of the irrational; and they are, at night, darkwith all the varied connotations of darkness. Part of what is irrational about the woods is their attraction. They are restful, seductive, lovely, dark, and deeplike deep sleep, like oblivion. Snow falls in downy flakes, like a blanket to lie under and be covered by. And here is where many readers hear dark undertones to this lyric. To rest too long while snow falls could be to lose ones way, to lose the path, to freeze and die. Does this poem express a death wish, considered and then discarded? Do the woods sing a sirens song? To be lulled to sleep could be truly dangerous. Is allowing oneself to be lulled akin to giving up the struggle of prudence and self-preservation? Or does the poem merely describe the temptation to sit and watch beauty while responsibilities are forgottento succumb to a mood for a while? The woods sit on the edge of civilization; one way or another, they draw the speaker away from it (and its promises, its good sense). Society would condemn stopping here in the dark, in the snowit is ill advised. The speaker ascribes societys reproach to the horse, which may seem, at first, a bit odd. But the horse is a domesticated part of the civilized order of things; it is the nearest thing to societys agent at this place and time. And having the horse reprove the speaker (even if only in the speakers imagination) helps highlight several uniquely human features of the speakers dilemma. One is the regard for beauty (often flying in the face of practical concern or the survival instinct); another is the attraction to danger, the unknown, the dark mystery; and the thirdperhaps related but distinctis the possibility of the death wish, of suicide. Not that we must return too often to that darkest interpretation of the poem. Beauty alone is a sufficient siren; a sufficient protection against her seduction is an unwillingness to give up on society despite the responsibilities it imposes. The line And miles to go before I sleep need not imply burden alone; perhaps the ride home will be lovely, too. Indeed, the line could be read as referring to Frosts career as a poet, and at this time he had plenty of good poems left in him. The Story "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" concerns the efforts of a town marshal bringing his new bride to the "frontier" town of Yellow Sky Texas, at a time when the Old West is being slowly but inevitably civilized. At the climax of the story, the stereotypical and seemingly inevitable gunfight, a staple feature of Westerns, is averted, and the reader senses that all such gunplay is a thing of the past, that in fact Crane is describing the "end of an era." Cranes four-part story concerns mans interaction with his environment. (Jacks wife is not an individualized person with a name; she is important only because she represents marriage as a civilized institution.) In part 1, Crane describes the progress of the "great Pullman" train across Texas. With its luxurious appointments ("the dazzling fittings of the coach"), the train is a foreign country to the newlyweds, whom Crane portrays as self-conscious aliens: Jacks hands "perform" in a "most conscious fashion," and his bride is "embarrassed" by her puff sleeves. The couple are so self-conscious and intimidated by their surroundings that the black porter "bullies" them, regards them with "an amused and superior grin," and generally "oppresses" them, treatment that they also receive from the black waiter, who "patronizes them." As the train nears Yellow Sky, Jack becomes "commensurately restless," primarily because he knows that he has committed an "extraordinary crime" by going "headlong over all the social hedges" and ignoring his

"duty to his friends," members of an "innocent and unsuspecting community." Marshals in frontier towns apparently do not marry because they need to be free of domestic entanglements. Because Jack and his bride sense their "mutual guilt," they "slink" away from the train station and walk rapidly to his home, a "safe citadel" from which Jack can later emerge to make his peace with the community. While Jack and his bride make their way to his house, Crane cuts to the Weary Gentleman saloon, where six men, including the Eastern "drummer," sit drinking at the bar. While the drummer tells a story, another man appears at the door to announce that Scratchy Wilson is drunk and "has turned loose with both hands." The remainder of part 2 is exposition: The "innocent" drummer, whom Crane describes as a "foreigner," is told that there will be some shooting, that Scratchy and Jack are old adversaries, and that Scratchy is "the last one of the old gang that used to hang out along the river here." Scratchy makes his appearance in part 3, which completes the preparation for the "show down," the anticipated gunfight of part 4. Scratchy issues unanswered challenges, shoots at a dog, and then approaches the saloon, where he demands a drink. When he is ignored, he uses the saloon door for target practice and then, remembering his traditional opponent, goes to Jacks house and howls challenges and epithets at the empty house. In part 4, Jack and his bride encounter Scratchy near Jacks house. Scratchy gets the "drop" on Jack, accuses him of trying to sneak up on him, and warns him about trying to draw his gun. When Jack tells him that he has no gun, Scratchy is "livid" and tells him, "Dont take me for no kid." Jack answers that he is not lying, but Scratchy presses him for a reason, suggesting that perhaps he has been to "Sunday-school." Jacks response is to Scratchy almost as unlikely: "Im married." Unable to deal with "this foreign condition." Scratchy supposes that "its all off now" and walks away. Themes and Meanings Cranes frontier setting is essential to his theme, which concerns the conflict between the East and West and the passing of an era. While Yellow Sky is located in western Texas, it is accessible by train, which acts as a "vehicle" to bring Eastern civilization to the West. In fact, Yellow Sky has already been civilized, despite the anachronistic presence of Scratchy Wilson, who seems determined to preserve the "good old days." Unfortunately, Scratchys clothes reveal the extent to which even he has been "Easternized": He wears a "maroon-coloured flannel shirt" made by "some Jewish women on the East Side of New York," and his red-topped boots have gilded imprints beloved by "little sledding boys on the hillsides of New England." At the end of the story Crane writes of Scratchy, "In the presence of this foreign condition he was a simple child of the earlier plains," thereby indicating that Scratchy is a "holdover," a man with ties to the Old West, but also that he is a "simple child." In the story Crane depicts Scratchy not as a mature adult, but as a child-man, an adult who refuses to "grow up." His boots are related to children, and he "plays" with the town, which is described as a "toy for him." When Jack tells him that he has no gun, Scratchy is concerned that he not be taken "for no kid," and Jack himself seems to understand the importance of being treated as an adult for he assures Scratchy, "I aint takin you for no kid." In fact, the confrontation between Jack and Scratchy resembles the "show downs" between young boys who cannot back down, but who have to assert their own lack of fear while simultaneously not provoking their opponent. In taking a bride, Jack has broken with the traditions of the Old West and also become a civilized man, one who has truly "put away childish things." Just as marriage is a foreign condition to Scratchy, the last vestiges of the Old West are "foreign" to the drummer, who has apparently ignored the possibility that men like Scratchy might still exist. The drummer is "innocent" of the implications of Scratchys drinking, and his questions reveal not only his fear, but also his astonishment that someone might be killed in this "civilized" town. The townspeople strike the appropriate balance, however, for they accept Scratchys behavior as a remnant of the past, a worn-out ritual prompted by alcohol. Jack, who "goes out and fights Scratchy when he gets on one of these tears," is a part of this High Noon drama. By the end of the story, however, Jack has assumed a different role in a new ritual. Style and Technique Although Jack believes that he is guilty of a crime and has been a traitor to the community, he takes himself, as do many Crane protagonists, much too seriously. His perceptions of himself and his situation are not shared by the other characters or by Cranes readers. The saloon conversation indicates that Jack is useful in containing Scratchy, but it does not reflect Jacks centrality" in the community. (In fact, Jacks decision to marry must have followed his subconscious awareness that it was "safe" to marry.) The gap between perception and reality is apparent on the train: "To the minds of the pair, their surroundings reflected the glory of their marriage." The passengers and the black porter are not impressed, however, for they see the brides "under-class countenance," her "shy and clumsy coquetry," and the grooms self-consciousness and lack of sophistication. To Jack, his house is his "citadel" and his marriage is his new "estate." The mock-heroic style is epitomized in the brides reaction to the meeting with Scratchy: "She was a slave to hideous rites, gazing at the apparitional snake." Crane elevates the meeting of Jack and his bride with Scratchy to myth: The "apparitional snake," the satanic force which introduces evil into the new Edenic estate, is the drunken Scratchy Wilson; Jack and his bride are the innocent Adam and Eve; the "rite" is the fall from grace. Surely, nothing could be further from reality. In Cranes fiction, insignificant man perceives himself as the center of the universe, but the universe seems indifferent to his posturings and pretensions. Scratchy, who had thought of his "ancient antagonist" ("ancient" is also mock-heroic), goes to Jacks house. There he chants "Apache scalp music" and howls challenges, but Crane writes that the house "regarded him as might a great stone god." Mans presumption is such that he believes he can disturb the "immobility of a house." Part of the incongruity between mans illusions and reality is reflected in the death imagery which pervades the story. Crane describes Jack "as one announcing death" and compares his mouth to a "grave for his tongue; as Scratchy walks the streets, the stillness forms the "arch of a tomb over him." Through the use of such figurative language, Crane builds his story to its anticlimactic scene. As Scratchy walks away, dragging his feet and making "funnel-shaped tracks," the new era arrives: "Yellow Sky," "the hour of daylight," as Crane defines it, replaces the twilight of the Old West.

Frost said his poem "The Road Not Taken" was tricky-very tricky. Three things make his poem tricky-the time frame, and the words "sigh" and "difference." Robert Frosts The Road Not Taken has been one of the most analyzed, quoted, anthologized poems in American poetry. A widespread interpretation claims that the speaker in the poem is promoting individualism and non-conformity. A Tricky Poem Frost claims that he wrote this poem about his friend Edward Thomas, with whom he had walked many times in the woods near London. Frost has said that while walking they would come to different paths and after choosing one, Thomas would always fret wondering what they might have missed by not taking the other path. About the poem, Frost asserted, "You have to be careful of that one; it's a tricky poem - very tricky." And he is, of course, correct. The poem has been and continues to be used as an inspirational poem, one that to the undiscerning eye seems to be encouraging selfreliance, not following where others have led. But a close reading of the poem proves otherwise. It does not moralize about choice; it simply says that choice is inevitable, but you never know what your choice will mean until you have lived it. First Stanza Describes Situation The poem consists of four stanzas. In the first stanza, the speaker describes his position. He has been out walking the woods and comes to two roads, and he stands looking as far down each one as he can see. He would like to try out both, but doubts he could to that, so therefore he continues to look down the roads for a long time trying to make his decision about which road to take. Second Stanza Decides to Take Less-Traveled Road The speaker had looked down the first one to where it bent in the undergrowth, and in the second stanza, he reports that he decided to take the other path, because it seemed to have less traffic than the first. But then he goes on to say that they actually were very similarly worn. The second one that he took seems less traveled, but as he thinks about it, he realizes that they were really about the same. Not exactly that same but only about the same. Third Stanza Continues Description of Roads The third stanza continues with the cogitation about the possible differences between the two roads. He had noticed that the leaves were both fresh fallen on them both and had not been walked on, but then again claims that maybe he would come back and also walk the first one sometime, but he doubted he would be able to, because in life one thing leads to another and time is short. Fourth Stanza Two Tricky Words The fourth stanza holds the key to the trickiness of the poem: I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Those who interpret this poem as suggesting non-conformity take the word difference to be a positive difference. But there is nothing in the poem that suggests that this difference signals a positive outcome. The speaker could not offer such information, because he has not lived the difference yet. The other word that leads readers astray is the word sigh. By taking difference to mean a positive difference, they think that the sigh is one of nostalgic relief; however, a sigh can also mean regret. There is the oh, dear kind of sigh, but also the what a relief kind of sigh. Which one is it? If it is the relief sigh, then the difference means the speaker is glad he took the road he did; if it is the regret sigh, then the difference would not be good, and the speaker would be sighing in regret. But the plain fact is that the poem does not identify the nature of that sigh. The speaker of the poem does not even know the nature of that sigh, because that sigh and his evaluation of the difference his choice will make are still in the future. It is a truism that any choice an indiviual make is going to make all the difference in how our future turns out. Careful Readers Wont Be Tricked So Frost was absolutely correct; his poem is trickyvery tricky. In this poem, it is important to be careful with the time frame. When the speaker says he will be reporting sometime in the future how his road choice turned out, he clearly states that he cannot assign meaning to sigh and difference yet, because he cannot know how his choice will affect his future, until after he has lived it. Commentary This has got to be among the best-known, most-often-misunderstood poems on the planet. Several generations of careless readers have turned it into a piece of Hallmark happy-graduation-son, seize-the-future puffery. Cursed with a perfect marriage of form and

content, arresting phrase wrought from simple words, and resonant metaphor, it seems as if The Road Not Taken gets memorized without really being read. For this it has died the clichs un-death of trivial immortality. But you yourself can resurrect it from zombie-hood by reading itnot with imagination, even, but simply with accuracy. Of the two roads the speaker says the passing there / Had worn them really about the same. In fact, both roads that morning lay / In leaves no step had trodden black. Meaning: Neither of the roads is less traveled by. These are the facts; we cannot justifiably ignore the reverberations they send through the easy aphorisms of the last two stanzas. One of the attractions of the poem is its archetypal dilemma, one that we instantly recognize because each of us encounters it innumerable times, both literally and figuratively. Paths in the woods and forks in roads are ancient and deep-seated metaphors for the lifeline, its crises and decisions. Identical forks, in particular, symbolize for us the nexus of free will and fate: We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between. Our route is, thus, determined by an accretion of choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two. This poem does not advise. It does not say, When you come to a fork in the road, study the footprints and take the road less traveled by (or even, as Yogi Berra enigmatically quipped, When you come to a fork in the road, take it). Frosts focus is more complicated. First, there is no less-traveled road in this poem; it isnt even an option. Next, the poem seems more concerned with the question of how the concrete present (yellow woods, grassy roads covered in fallen leaves) will look from a future vantage point. Summary The speaker stands in the woods, considering a fork in the road. Both ways are equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves. The speaker chooses one, telling himself that he will take the other another day. Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to do so. And he admits that someday in the future he will recreate the scene with a slight twist: He will claim that he took the less-traveled road. Form The Road Not Taken consists of four stanzas of five lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAAB; the rhymes are strict and masculine, with the notable exception of the last line (we do not usually stress the -ence of difference). There are four stressed syllables per line, varying on an iambic tetrameter base. Commentary This has got to be among the best-known, most-often-misunderstood poems on the planet. Several generations of careless readers have turned it into a piece of Hallmark happy-graduation-son, seize-the-future puffery. Cursed with a perfect marriage of form and content, arresting phrase wrought from simple words, and resonant metaphor, it seems as if The Road Not Taken gets memorized without really being read. For this it has died the clichs un-death of trivial immortality. But you yourself can resurrect it from zombie-hood by reading itnot with imagination, even, but simply with accuracy. Of the two roads the speaker says the passing there / Had worn them really about the same. In fact, both roads that morning lay / In leaves no step had trodden black. Meaning: Neither of the roads is less traveled by. These are the facts; we cannot justifiably ignore the reverberations they send through the easy aphorisms of the last two stanzas. One of the attractions of the poem is its archetypal dilemma, one that we instantly recognize because each of us encounters it innumerable times, both literally and figuratively. Paths in the woods and forks in roads are ancient and deep-seated metaphors for the lifeline, its crises and decisions. Identical forks, in particular, symbolize for us the nexus of free will and fate: We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between. Our route is, thus, determined by an accretion of choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two. This poem does not advise. It does not say, When you come to a fork in the road, study the footprints and take the road less traveled by (or even, as Yogi Berra enigmatically quipped, When you come to a fork in the road, take it). Frosts focus is more complicated. First, there is no less-traveled road in this poem; it isnt even an option. Next, the poem seems more concerned with the question of how the concrete present (yellow woods, grassy roads covered in fallen leaves) will look from a future vantage point.