The speakers in works.of Edgar Allan Poe such as The Tell Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Pit and the Pendulum are extremely.effective in creating a specific atmosphere for the entire story.
A great example of Poes use of the speaker to create a tone for short stories is The Pit and the Pendulum. A feeling of delirium and confusion is expressed through the words of the speaker. Not even the speaker knows what is real and what is not real in this stupor he is in at the start of the story (Sparknotes). This mood of confusion and insecurity continues with the story as he awakes to pure darkness and has.to feel his way around a room (Van Doren Stern 159). The fact that the speaker knows no more about his situation than.the reader leads to a sensation of helplessness and despair that even the reader may feel. The speaker conveys a curious and inquisitive attitude throughout as he continues to discover more about the room he has found himself in. Once he finds himself strapped to a wooden board with a razor.sharp pendulum making its way towards him, his words express.a new feeling of panicked anticipation as he feels he is nearing his death (Sparknotes). The suspense builds as the narrator escapes the wooden board and the walls begin to close in on him, forcing him closer to the pit. His fear becomes greater and the tone of the story becomes more frantic. Finally, the walls cease and he is saved by the French army and there becomes a feeling of relief and optimism as the story comes to an end (Van Doren Stern 173).
The short story, The Tell-Tale Heart has a narrator with a different attitude and a different overall effect on the story. He exhibits traits of insanity and paranoia rather than fear and confusion (Sparknotes). The repetition of words and use of exclamation marks show his excitement over his act and create a maddening and unnerving mood throughout the story. Just as in The Pit and the Pendulum, there is the question of what is real and what is not real. The speaker has become completely insane and it is very.uncertain what noises are actually being made and what he is hearing in his head as he commits his evil deed. This unnerving uncertainty is a huge factor throughout the story along with the speakers extreme.paranoia that affects his every act in the story. The reader is left anxious and fearful of what the speaker may do next. As the story progresses and the speaker.begins hearing the beating of the old mans heart, a heavy feeling of guilt and chaos is expressed by.the narrator that continues to grow until the abrupt ending in which he finally cannot take.the beating of the heart any longer and confesses his deed to the men visiting his home.
The poem, The Raven, also involves a narrator who has.gone mad and has lost his grip on reality. The trochaic octameter used creates an eerie flow throughout the poem. It creates an uneasy and jumpy mood. The narrator is depressed and lamenting over the loss of his dear love, Lenore, when he nears a knock at his door. He is surprised to hear someone knocking at his door and he is curious to who it could be. The speaker has a moment of fear and worry when he finds nothing outside the door, but is relieved.when he notices a Raven perched on the bust of Pallas. He is amused by the bird and asks it questions to which it replies always, Nevermore. Even though he realizes the bird only has one answer, he continues asking it questions which the answer Nevermore will only make him feel worse. The narrator becomes frantic asking the bird about Lenore and screams at the bird calling it a thing of evil. The level of stress in the poem has risen and the narrator has become completely mad. The poem ends with the completely hopelessness of.the narrator being trapped forever by the Raven. Though in actuality, all of this was caused by the narrator himself.
Throughout Poes works, his speakers have remained a driving force in giving his stories a mood of madness, fear, or guilt. In every story Poe skillfully created personality for his speakers which in turn created a personality for the entire story.