Literary work has always made up a crucial component of any country’s history, and the American history is no different. As much as there are variations as to the exact time within which the literary works of any country can be traced, there is no doubt that different forms of literary works existed in any country since time immemorial. In addition, it goes without saying that these literary works outlined or chronicled the society as it was or rather as the writers saw the societies in which they were living. The American literature has its roots in the oral traditions pertaining to the indigenous tribes that inhabited the continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans. However, most of this literature remains unstudied simply because the tribes incorporated no written language. The same case applies to numerous other tribes or countries throughout the entire world. Most of the earliest examples pertaining to American literature are narratives that record the experiences and adventures of the early settlers (Sova, 23). As much as there were variations in the literary works, they were fundamentally the same category of literature that recounted events as seen via the eyes of the participants. This, however, made way for relatively more creative works such as poetry, fiction works, as well as commentaries on the numerous changes that the country was experiencing during the transition from being just a conglomeration of English colonies into a unified nation (Sova, 12).
Either way, literary works have always been a way of chronicling the events of any society. In quite a number of instances, individuals put down some literary works in an effort to trigger some thought in the minds of the inhabitants of that society and trigger a change in the way of live in that society. This is the case in two of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, both of which are meant to trigger some thought in the minds of readers and, therefore, instigate a paradigm shift. These are “The premature burial (1850)” and the “The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)”. These two stories are similar and different in various aspects.
In the “The Premature Burial”, the author outlines a popular tradition that used to be carried out in London. He starts the fictional tale by mentioning a number of extremely disgusting, horrific and terrifying events that resulted in immeasurable suffering to many people. He, however, states that as much as these events are extremely crucial, events that caused an immeasurable pain to a single person at any time bear some heightened importance. This is the case for individuals who were buried alive after being thought of as dead. The narrator comments that there are instances where a sick person appears dead, while he or she is, in fact, alive. In such instances, the person may be buried simply because all parties think that he has died. It is not until sometime later that the person awakens only to find himself locked in a coffin and is unable to get out. The narrator also chronicles a number of fictional stories of people who were buried alive, only for them to wake up later and even be dug out of their graves. Next, the narrator outlines his own fears that he may even end up being buried alive himself. This is because rarely do people have it within their power to sense the occurrence of such instances, in which case the incidents may occur frequently without the people’s cognizance. In fact, rarely do people encroach on graveyards for any purpose whatsoever. In this case, most of these cases go undetected as there are no chances that the posture of the skeletons will be found awkward as to lend credibility to the fearful suspicions that the person was buried alive (Poe, 64). Admittedly, the narrator suffers from an illness known as catalepsy which renders the muscles rigid and stiff. At one time, the narrator falls into a trance for a number of weeks alone and upon waking up wonders what would have happened had his relatives discovered him in that state. They surely would have thought of him as dead and even buried him.
The “The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)”, on the other hand, is a detective story that aims at unraveling two gruesome murders that involved a woman and her daughter. A bank clerk has been charged and convicted for the murders. However, the nameless narrator takes an odyssey to find out the truth and comes to realize that the murders may have been committed by an ape. He, however, has to prove that that is what happened and, therefore, places an advert for a lost ape in the newspapers. A sailor from Paris responds and later on admits that he saw the ape kill the two people, but failed to come out as he feared that people would blame him for the deaths of the two people. He ends up selling the ape and offers to pay the detective and the narrator, which the later declines.
One of the key similarities between the two stories lies in the fact that both stories were written in first person. It essentially appears that the narrator was chronicling some adventures or experiences that he has gone through in the society in which the narrator or the author lives. This is obviously the case in the case of “The Premature Death” as the burial of sick individuals was a common occurrence especially in cases where they were thought of as dead. It is worth noting that the two stories call for a clear analysis of the circumstances. For example, “The Premature Death” is essentially a call for repelling of these practices where an extremely sick individual is buried, without clearly ascertaining that he or she is truly dead. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, on the other hand, aim at outlining how possible it is that an individual will be convicted for a crime he never committed simply because shoddy investigations were done. This is the case for the bank clerk, who had been convicted for the two murders simply because the prefect of police was not willing to dig deep into the case and carry out some comprehensive investigations. In addition, the plot of both stories falls under the category of “The quest”. In “The Premature Burial”, the narrator is driven by the quest for the abolition of the tradition of burying people simply by assuming that they are dead (Booker, 34). The assumption is based on the thought that an individual who cannot respond is dead, whereas this may not be true. In the case of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, the narrator and the detective aim at unraveling the truth about the murder of a woman and her daughter. They realize that the police are uninterested in digging up for more details and investigating the murders in a comprehensive manner. This is because they think that they have the culprit in custody, based on a transaction that the banker had carried out for the woman a few days prior to her death (Booker, 49). In essence, the narrator has accompanied Dupin who feels obliged to solve the mystery. He owes the convicted bank clerk an unspecified that piques his interests in solving the case.
However, the two books differ in not only in their content but also in the style of narration. First, it is worth noting “The Premature Burial” uses numerous stories to put across the main point. Various fictional tales of individuals buried alive are given in an effort to outline the narrator’s fears of being buried alive. This is, however, not the in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, where the tale revolves around one mystery, which the narrator and Dupin (an investigator) wish to unravel.
In addition, it is worth noting that the two stories are in different categories. “The Premature Burial” may fall under horror story that aims at triggering a change in a certain inappropriate custom in the society. On the other hand, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a mystery story that has the sole goal of coming up with a solution. In essence, once Dupin has proved his theory that an ape carried out the murders, he has unraveled the mystery. All that is left is mopping up where the banker is released, the ape is caught and sold, and the investigator mocks the prefect of the police.
Booker, Christopher. The Seven Basic Plots. London: Continuum (2004). Print
Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work (Paperback ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. 2001. Print
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Murders in the Rue Morgue. 1849. Print
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Premature burial. 1850. Print