Halloween: Edgar Allan Poe edition

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With the most highly-anticipated fall holiday approaching, Harrisites have begun to embrace the enthusiastic-yet-ominous Halloween spirit. Looking for somewhere to start? The Classic presents their list of the top five goosebump-inducing short stories by American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe as Halloween draws near. 

 

  • THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

 

Intrigued by haunted houses, spooky mansions, and eerie settings? Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher will simply leave you in chills long after finishing the story. Sophomore Parisa Alam said, “I loved this piece because it is a classic text and it has a sinister tone.” In the story, the narrator relates the disturbing series of events that occur while he visits his friend Roderick at the “gloomy and mysterious” house of Usher. Roderick reveals to the narrator that he feels both mentally and physically drained, which leads to the two spending time at Roderick’s mansion to try and cheer him up. However, a mysterious anomaly keeps occurring and something seems to be wrong with Roderick’s sister. What happens next? Does the mystery remain unsolved? What was the truth about the house of Usher? Read this short story to be engaged in a creepy, but thrilling horror narrative.

 

  • THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO

 

Is going as far as meticulously tricking someone to the point of death for revenge a good idea? Well, Montresor in Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado sure seemed to be on board with it. His acquaintance Fortunato had insulted him, so Montresor in turn decided to feed his vengeful thirst in the carnival season by using Fortunato’s lust for wine against him. Do you think you’ll be able to handle the eeriness of a cold-blooded crime in a place as innocent as a carnival? The Cask of Amontillado will raise the hairs on your arms as you experience the gruesome events that lead up to Montresor’s ghastly revenge.

 

  • THE BLACK CAT

 

The Black Cat is considered, both universally and by Harrisites, to be one of the most spine-chilling short stories you could read on your quest to be satisfyingly horrified on Halloween. The narrator’s constant assertion of his sanity only adds to the unsettling mood when his morbid actions toward both animals and people close to him are revealed. Sophomore Carina Fucich said, “I enjoyed this story because at first glance, or with surface level reading, this story is overly violent and morbid. However, I found that when I read deeper into the lines, there were so many hidden metaphors and symbols in the text. Every time I realized what a symbol meant, the text seemed to come together, almost like a puzzle.” The Black Cat is spectacularly chilling, and prime for any October reading list.

 

  • THE TELL-TALE HEART

 

Floorboards, blue eyes, and midnight watches. It is difficult to know where to begin with The Tell-Tale Heart. The narrator begins the story by confessing to the murder of an old man while emptily defending his sanity, which appears to be a common theme among Poe’s works. His motives for the murder, one may ask, are the old man’s pale blue eyes. Evidently, this is a very stirring read that encompasses themes of guilt and madness. Sophomore Sylvia Tai commented, “The plot is really interesting and unique. The way it’s written builds a lot of suspense so the reader doesn’t get bored easily. By revealing the actions of the narrator’s insanity, it also develops strong messages.”

 

  • THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

 

Ghosts, corpses, and masques serve as great Halloween costume ideas. After a plague known as the Red Death hit, gruesome death followed left and right. “I remember reading The Masque of the Red Death for school one night and it stopped me in my tracks for a good thirty seconds. I was trying to process what had just happened– the plot was unpredictable, yet suspenseful because Edgar Allan Poe was its author,” said sophomore Bakshish Kaur. 

These five short stories by Edgar Allan Poe are a great excuse to grab a bucket of candy and read snugly in a dimly-lit room under the covers to add to the eeriness. Poe’s blood-curdling writing is more than enough to immerse anyone into the Halloween season. 

Artwork by Jessica Lin

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