Edgar Allan Poe and His Use of Literary Devices

May 28, 2008
By Tyler Garland, Seneca, SC

Literary devices are a major part of writing. A good author will use literary devices to bring the reader into what they are reading. When an author does this, the reader begins to feel and think as the characters feel and think. This is what Poe does to a reader when he whites a story. Poe’s use of anadiplosis, bomphiologia, chronographia, enargia and other literary devices helps the reader to embrace the characters.
Poe uses a good amount of anadiplosis. This is when the last word or words in a sentence is used as the first word or words in the next sentence. To understand this, you do not have to look far into hi writing. Some examples of this can be found in “The Pit and the Pendulum” when Poe writes “…That I could not force my Imagination to regard as unreal. Unreal-Even while I breathed…” (The Pit and the Pendulum, NP). “For the moment at last, I was free. Free and in the grasp of the inquisition…” (The Pit and the Pendulum, NP).

Poe also uses a device known as bomphiliogia. Bomphiliogia is bombastic, pompous speech such as “Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound-the tumultuous motion of the heart, and, in my ears, the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all is blank. Then again sound, and motion, and touch…” (The Pit and the Pendulum, NP). He especially uses it in “The Pit and the Pendulum”, although it he uses it throughout his work.

Enargia is another literary device used by Poe. Enargia is a vivid description of something. A person can see that he uses it throughout his work, but he uses it most often in his creative short stories. The way he describes the torture chamber in “The Pit and the Pendulum” is a good example of energia. He does this when he writes “I now observed-with what horror it is needless to say-that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a food in length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor...appended to a weighty rod of brass…” (The Pit and the Pendulum)
This helps the reader to feel as though they too are in the torture chamber. Many of his poems also show use of it.
Another device he uses is chronographia. This is a type of enargia. He does this when he talks about time using a very drawn on approach. “Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made a circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock…a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour…” (The Masque of the Red Death, NP).
Poe also uses a kind of soraismus in his writing. Soraismus is “the mingling of languages either through ignorance or a desire to show off” (Zimmerman, NP). He uses this in “The Gold Bug”. In this he writes, “No, dat he aint!-he aint find nowhar-dat’s just whar de shoe pinch-my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will.” (The Gold Bug, NP). He uses this because it give the reader a sense of how the character talks. Poe writes “
Poe also uses Chaismos to spice up his writing. He does this by saying one thing in one sentence, then saying the same thing flipped around in the next sentence. An example of this is
“When the boy kicked the ball, he fell”. The next sentence would say something like “the boy fell when he kicked the ball”.

Symbolism is also a great part of Poe’s writing. He masters it in his every work. In “The Pit and the Pendulum”, the whole story symbolizes the dark and rough time in the torture chambers. In “The Black Cat”, the cat symbolizes a kind a hatred that people keep bottled up. INJ the story His hatred toward the cat grows and he finally turns to drastic measures. In “The Tell-Tale Heart”, the beating heart represents a person’s conscience after they have done a terrible deed. “I felt that I must scream or die! and now-again!-hark! louder! louder! louder! Louder!” (The Tell-Tale Heart, NP) is an example of the beating heart.
One of the other literary devices that Poe uses is personification. Personification is used to give a lifelike description of an object. Personification is on e of the literary devices that bring his writings to life. For instance, “…weighty rod of brass, and the whole hissed as it swung through the air.” (The Pit and the Pendulum, NP) is one example. Another example is “In the centre yawned the circular pit from which jaws I had escaped; but it was the only one in the dungeon”. In “The Lake: To-“Poe uses some personification to personify the night. For example, “Of a wild lake, with black rock bound, And the tall pines that towered around. But when the Night had thrown her pall Upon that spot, as upon all,” (The Lake: To-, NP). Another example in the same poem is,”Death is a poisonous wave”.
“For instance, up to now I have counted twenty-three types of devices of balance, including antanagoge, three kinds of doublets (antithetic, pleonastic and range), triplets (and other kinds of seriation), antimetabole, inclusio, and palindrome… I have also catalogued nearly two dozen devices of description, from anemographia to triplets adjectival and adverbial, and conclude that Poe is a highly descriptive writer… Additionally, I have enumerated three dozen types of emotional appeal and other devices of vehemence--no surprise to those well acquainted with the prose and poetry of the passionate and histrionic Poe (Zimmerman, NP)”.
Anadiplosis, bomphiologia, chronographia and enargia greatly influence Poe’s writing style. Using these and many other types of literary help bring his writing to life. He uses this and his imagination to create high quality work. The way Poe uses them to recreate the stories inthe readers mind makes him a very popular writer in American literature. Scholars continue to study his work and his use of literary devices.


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This article has 35 comments.


Ashley Gomez said...
on Mar. 27 2015 at 2:43 pm
Ashley Gomez, Donna, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
what device is being used in the poem "A Dream" By Edgar Allan Poe ? please help!

TK14 said...
on Oct. 23 2014 at 7:59 pm
Very useful article. It has to be a very good article in order for me to create an account just to comment lol. But seriously, great work! Helped me do research for my Edgar Allen Poe project!

deathangel said...
on Sep. 11 2012 at 12:49 pm
Your writing was a big help but it was hard to sit down and read this all at once. I got lost at times and had to reread the same section over five times. Its all very interesting but confusing at the same time.

ses127 said...
on Sep. 8 2012 at 2:46 pm
Great information here! Watch the spellings on some of ther terms listed (they tended to change slightly). Otherwise, this is a great, in-depth look at some of the many unique tools Poe uses to captivate his readers. It has apparently worked! Also, I love how you included cited examples for each of the literaey devices. Well done!

Mouse said...
on May. 16 2012 at 7:07 am
I really like your in-depth look at the literary devices Poe uses in his poetry, but I feel that your paper is lacking in one essential area. Though you have a claim, and you have data to support it, you do not have any explanations as to how that data relates back to your claim. You do not explain why it is that the use of these specific devices is so useful to Poe. I mean this only as constructive critisism, if you want to know more about this, you should look up Toulmin Logic and read the sections on "Claim", "Data", and "Warrant".

jamesharl33 said...
on Feb. 9 2012 at 7:03 am
I like Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. I had the chance to read one of his works. It was really good and impressive. He is maybe of the inspirations of those essay writing services that you find online.

on Jan. 30 2012 at 8:50 pm
FeelTheRomance18, Tucson, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged cupid painted blind. -Lysander, A Midsummer Night's Dream

whatever. its true.

Gamer_Gurrl said...
on Jan. 30 2012 at 5:05 pm
Sure......

on Jan. 5 2012 at 2:36 pm
welcometoplanetearth SILVER, Devon, Pennsylvania
9 articles 2 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
-W. Somerset Maugham

Amazingly informative and in depth. I love Edgar Allan Poe and in was very interesting to look into his writing a bit more.

on Dec. 15 2011 at 4:58 pm
Deej6595 BRONZE, Billerica, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 375 comments

Favorite Quote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Wow I did not even know some of those literary techniques existed. Thank you for informing me. Hopefully, I will be able to impress my English teachers now :)

on Nov. 23 2011 at 8:02 am
Sorry, new at this, replied to the wrong person! Disregard my comment!

on Nov. 23 2011 at 7:57 am
Thanks. Hope you enjoyed it and didnt think it too stupid. Constructive critism is welcome though critics, for simply their purpose are not.

byebye said...
on Oct. 31 2011 at 1:38 pm
byebye, Nevermore, Other
0 articles 0 photos 253 comments
it's a lot, not "alot"...

leafy said...
on Aug. 26 2011 at 7:40 am
leafy, City, Other
0 articles 0 photos 682 comments

Favorite Quote:
Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion. 
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it. 
Gil: You haven't even read it yet. 
Ernest Hemingway: If it's bad, I'll hate it. If it's good, then I'll be envious and hate it even more. You don't want the opinion of another writer. 

Informative and well-structured,but there are some simple mistakes and there were a lot of sentences starting "Poe uses...." or something like that. Overall, it was pretty dryv

on Jun. 22 2011 at 12:24 am
MayhemMadness, Lakeland, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Your not ready to live, If your not ready to die."

My fav. poem from him is either " But a dream WIthin a dream." Or " Annabel Lee." He is an amazing poet.

ninjacayke said...
on May. 31 2011 at 1:30 am
"Death is a poisonous wave" is actually not personification, but rather a metaphor, since he is describing death as a wave and not giving it human characteristics. Otherwise, it was a great article and it was also very helpful. I especially liked the quote in the last paragraph from Zimmerman. :)

warara said...
on May. 29 2011 at 2:38 pm
you spelt "bomphiologia" wrong a couple of times

on May. 8 2011 at 12:09 am
FeelTheRomance18, Tucson, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged cupid painted blind. -Lysander, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Im actually related to edgar allan poe.

on Mar. 25 2011 at 5:58 pm
Alice_in_Wonderland GOLD, San Clemente, California
16 articles 0 photos 620 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I could give up, I could stay stuck, or I could move on, So I put one foot front of the other, No no no nothing’s gonna break my stride, “ –David Archuleta (The Other Side of Down)

Wow, that article was very informative. I have never heard of those types of literary devices, thank you for sharing. Great article.

Becca17 GOLD said...
on Mar. 25 2011 at 3:35 pm
Becca17 GOLD, Belleville Ontario, Other
10 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Seven Deadly Sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Edgar Allan Poe is my favourite author


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