ENG 205 Week 8 Unit B: Edgar Allen Poe

1. Discussionboard: (200 WORDS)
Fall of the House of Usher (1173)http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/fall.html

The Tell-Tale Heart (1186)http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/telltale.html

The Purloined Letter (1190)http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/purloine.html

Discussion Question:
Is Lady Madeleine real, or a figment of the narrator’s or Usher’s imagination? What does the narrator feel when he first sees her, and how does he respond to the news that she has passed away? Could Madeleine be a psychological part (“twin”) to Usher?

2. Write responses for other3 student’s work. (50-75 words for each)

First student:
Moral ambiguity is defined as a lack of making a moral decision due to unclear conflicts. In all three short stories from Hawthorne, we witness an overall of theme of sin with a hint of self-remorse/guilt. I think Hawthorne’s ideas for these stories was to connect with readers to do a self-evaluation of what they would consider right and wrong in the situations presented in the text. In all three stories, there is a clear subject and an action being taken. However, the characters tend to question their actions and do not make a decision to right the wrong that they may or may not have committed.
In “Young Goodman Brown,” the main character and the readers are not sure if the initiation into the cult was real or if it was just a dream. As Brown reflects on this, he self-analyzes if the decision that he made was the correct one or how to handle it. In “The Minister’s Black Veil,” a possible reason for this story is to show how we as humans suppress our guilt or hide our sins away. The minister is hiding behind a black veil, yet the townspeople never question his actions. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Rappaccini clearly has taken the guilt in his hands by making his daughter an experiment. Are his actions justifiable? Was it worth risking his daighter’s happiness?
Throughout all three stories, there rarely any form of good, moral-standing characters. I think that this is fair to say because as humans, we all have our form of sins or guilt that we try to forget, but never deal with. Hawthorne’s stories allow us to ponder on our own decisions and justify what is the best course of action to move on

Second student:
Upon meeting the young and older man (possibly father and son) along Goodman Brown’s Journey, John Hawthorne quickly injects his moral ambiguity when he sees them neither as evil or good, describing their features until the young man wishes he go further, which then he describes him as a “serpent.” This tells me they were evil when a few paragraphs before that I believed they were two standard Puritans.
He uses Mr. Reverend Hooper in “The minister’s Black Veil”, early on he describes how he hides his face and faintly steps onto the parish. He is described as a quiet yet maybe dangerous figure? He doesn’t describe him with and glaring detail that would lead you from one to the other. At least early on he gives signs each of good and evil that leave me questioning what he actually is. Thorughout all three of his stories it is very hard to discern good from evil. I actually believe it is easier to to see evil than good.

Third student:
Moral ambiguity, making it impossible for a person to tell whether a character is good or evil is highly evident in Young Goodman Brown. While going to undertake his evil mission, Brown attests that he cannot share with his wife about the errand, because “’t would kill her to think it”, meaning that his wife’s faith, which is puritan-based would be reduced to nothing if his wife knew of his evil ways. He therefore gives his wife a parting kiss and attests that he is not guilty of leaving her to undertake his evil errand. Yet, as readers, we somehow know that he is not inherently evil, but he seems to have the desire to undertake his evil errand. This makes it difficult to tell, whether he is evil or not. At one point Brown notes that he will cling to his wife’s skirts if need be to follow her, as she goes to heaven. This implies that he recognizes that what he is doing is not right and he is a man of good puritan virtues, as expressed in his wish to go to heaven. Still, he seems to want to go to heave by his wife’s virtues rather than his own doing. In this case, one cannot make a forceful conviction on whether he is evil or good, as it is not clear whether it is by his own accord that he seeks to fulfill the evil errand or by the very fact that he is shaken by the fear of not accomplishing what the devil wants, thus making him a victim.
In The Minister’s Black Veil, Hawthorne present Hooper as an ambiguous man, that makes morality in this context ambiguous and inability discern whether he is good or evil difficult. As a man of God, the reader expects that by all possible ways that Hooper is a good man tendering to his congregation. Nonetheless, changes and starts wearing a black veil, seemingly making people wonder his motivations, as the veil, which is black in color, could seemingly symbolize sin. Could he have turned into or possessed by demonic creature that has made him evil? In addition, the veil seems to grant him power over others; people cannot speak about it, even if they want him to remove it. When in a funeral, a woman claims to have seen the minister standing hand in hand with the dead young woman after funeral meaning that he could have devilish powers. Hooper is also frightened by his reflection that he ends up spilling wine and departing. This indicates that he may not be in control of the changes happening to him or may be afraid of what he has made himself become. However, could he just have won the veil to send a message to his congregate; that all people wear a veil of sin, as he claims, to provoke them change behavior? There is no way of telling whether he could be good or evil, because his moral actions are ambiguous. In Rappaccini’s Daughter Hawthorne present Giovanni as an innocent soul with good virtues who has fallen in love with Beatrice. Nonetheless, he pursues her despite being warned aboutRappaccini’s tendency to experiment even those he loves to conduct experiments and to an extent discovers that he has become as poisonous as Beatrice. Nonetheless, he bring an antidote that kills Beatrice with the wish that it would enable him and Beatrice be together. This makes one wonder whether he does this out of selfish interests, despite having no knowledge of science and Beatrice poisonous nature. In effect, it is difficult to tell whether is good and the innocent victim or the evil calculating lover.

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