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Analysis

Spooky Effects and the Death of Beauty

If folks are familiar with Poe, they probably know him as one of the first American masters of horror. His spooky poem "The Raven" is a classic, and his tales of death and terror like "The Black Cat," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Tell-Tale Heart" are still sending chills down readers' spines. One thing all of these works share (and that's definitely in full effect in "The Haunted Palace") is an atmosphere of dread and doom. Poe carefully tunes his language, right down to the sound of individual words, to make us feel the strangeness and the spookiness of his world, and the danger that lurks around every corner.

Another way to know that you're dealing with a work by Poe is his fascination with the death of beauty. In many of Poe's poems and stories ("The Haunted Palace" included), the reader watches as a person or a thing that used to be beautiful and healthy decays and fades away into death and destruction. In a lot of cases, that dying or dead thing is a beautiful young woman (check out "Ulalume" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" for examples of that). In this case, the thing that's dying away is a palace, although, in a mysterious and symbolic way, it's a person, too. So, to recap: if you see creepy effects, unusual sounding words that make you shiver, and the slow, inevitable decay of beauty, chances are you're dealing with the oh-so-spooky work of Edgar Allan Poe.

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