Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman are known for their influential work of art despite the way they both choose to address the issues of their time. The two writers embrace the use of symbolism, themes, imagery, description and even narrative in showing the mysterious happenings that affect human life. In explaining the need for respect to human life, Poe uses imagery such as light and darkness in discussing the supernatural events that negatively impact life. He explores the dark side of nature and how this affects not only individuals but the society as a whole. This is visible in "The Masque of the Red Death" where Poe defines the theme of human value through the symbol of light in a dark room. The darkness represents the evil in the society that can only be illuminated by light that comes from truth, democracy, and respect. Similar to Poe, Whitman focuses on value for human life through having a sense of the divine in the body. He chooses to explore religious ecstasy through fighting for both men and women to be valued in the society. To him, for the whole body to function properly, it depended on how other parts are being treated in the process of stimulating emotion. The fact is evident in his "Leaves of Grass" where he expresses his concern about slavery. He says that he expects people to assume and that what belongs to him belongs to someone else too (356, 1-3). In this case, Whitman emphasizes on the need to treat other people the way you would wish to be treated. Both Poe and Whitman use symbolic features in showing the inner character of their subjects which unrealistically represent life situations. Arguably, despite the visible differences in their writing, both Poe and Whitman aims at reverting human wickedness that has taken root in the society and the need to embrace righteousness.
However, both Allan Poe and Walt Whitman differ in most of the writing techniques in that Whitman employed the gaudy poetic diction that aligns with stanzas, meter, and rhyme to touch freshness to American Poetry as evident in "Song of Myself" in Leaves of Grass. For instance, in stressing the importance of the traditional words, Whitman dealt more with dashes to direct the reader on how a certain word or phrase impacted on the emotional level The use of diction was more so developed on by use of imagery that contains details which further enable the reader to create visions of what is being talked about. Arguably, Poe employs a different style of genre, in this case, the Gothic mood through a standard language as evident in "the Fall of the House of Usher" where the tales are visibly the ancient decaying castle (p.1). Poe employs much of fiction and myths in explaining psychological states that are evident to disturb human existence. Moreover, in describing the nature of light and darkness that contrast the real meaning of life, Poe embraces high levels of vocabulary as well as language believing that the technique best brings out the intended meaning to the audience (Quinn, 1997 p.96). Regardless of this, both Poe and Whitman can communicate to the targeted elite audience despite the difference in standard of vocabulary and language. However, despite much use of imagery to help the audience fully comprehend the story, Poe leaves the audience with many unanswered questions thus the need to develop one's conclusion as evident in "the fall of the House of Usher." The choice of the narrative technique used by both the authors significantly differs in a way that Poe narrows down on using fictional situations to show the contrast between reality and a dream. On the other hand, Whitman uses his authorial intrusion in defining the connection between the body parts in creating a clear image for the readers to value the need for unity and human respect (Allen, 1955 p.79).
Allen, Gay Wilson. The solitary singer: a critical biography of Walt Whitman. Vol. 136. New York, Macmillan, 1955.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: a critical biography. JHU Press, 1997.
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