When writing a short story or poem Edgar Allen Poe utilizes his own criteria. Most writers try to keep the tedious details that they have in the writing process from the public, but Poe is not afraid to reveal the criteria that he follows. There are six points in his criteria that are evident in his works.
One of Poe’s criteria is that the plot needs to be kept in the forefront of the mind when writing. Poe follows these criteria very well. He starts the story by introducing his characters then rises slowly to the climax then has a fall at the end. “The Fall of the House of Usher” is good example for this. At the beginning of the story, Poe introduces the man and his purpose and also Roderick and Madeline Usher. He then slowly rises to the climax, when Madeline comes out of the coffin and tries to kill her brother, then displays the fall, the house falling and the end of the Usher descendents. Clearly, Poe keeps the plot in the forefront of his mind when writing.
Another criteria that Poe follows is that a piece should be short enough to read in one sitting. Poe definitely follows these criteria. “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Masque of Red Death,” and “The Raven” are all excellent examples of this criteria. Another criteria that Poe follows is he uses a certain amount of complexity and suggestiveness. Poe uses this in his poem “The Raven.” Throughout the poem, the man keeps imagining that he hears someone at the door, thinking that it is his lost Lenore. “But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, and so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door… And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ‘Lenore?’” (Raven 310). This provokes the reader to think of what pain the man is going through from losing a loved one and helps the human relate to the poem if they have been through that same situation.
Poe believes that when you are trying to consider effect you must consider tone or incident. Tone is a very important part of the piece when the effect is being created. “I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity—an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn—a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible and leaden-hued”(Fall 298). This passage sets the tone of the story in a melancholy state. This helps create the effect of sadness and dreariness of the story. Another criteria that Poe follows is to keep all his work original. Poe definitely follows these criteria. His pieces are very original in style and plot.
Poe’s last criteria is that the writer needs to create an effect that touches the heart, intellect, or soul to keep universal interest. Poe clearly does this in “The Raven.” The man in the poem is grieving over his lost Lenore. The poem describes the illusions he is experiencing from the grief. This theme is easy to relate to because people lose loved ones everyday and they have experienced the same grief. This affects the heart because of the sadness. Poe also uses this criteria in “The Masque of the Red Death.” He touches the soul by creating the fear of the Red Death. This also relates to people universally because everyone is afraid of death even though it is inevitable. Clearly, Poe creates an effect that touches the heart, soul, or intellect.
Poe follows the criteria he created in all his works and by using these six criteria Poe is able to create magnificent and well developed writings. By revealing the tedious details of the writing process, readers will appreciate the work much more.