The Extraordinary Tales: Lessons On Death

Poe
This image was found at IMB.com in their article on Extraordinary Tales(2013).

Paul Garcia in 2013 released The Extraordinary Tales as a video anthology of Edger Allen Poe’s work. The movie takes an interesting twist on Edger Allen Poe’s writing setting the movie up as a dialogue between Edger Allen Poe and the Death. Edger Allen Poe in personified in the form of a Raven and Death is personified in the form a tomb stone that has the image of a woman.

Throughout the movie Death and Edger Allen Poe talk about death like old friends exchanging stories. The stories that are exchanged between the two are Fall Of The House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Facts in the Case of  M. Valdemar, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of Red Death. Each of these stories were written by Edger Allen Poe and in a way, the discourse between Poe and Death forces the Poet to confront his inner demons. Each of the stories mentioned above teaches the audience a lesson about the death.

Lesson I: The Fear of Death and Loss Will Lead You To Madness

The movie begins with Poe’s spirit talking to Death who confronts him about his obsession with her. Then the movie shifts to telling the Fall of The House of Usher a story about premature death. The story begins with Rodrick Usher contacting the narrator as him to stay with him at his estate in order to track his progression into madness.

When the narrator arrives at the mansion Rodrick Usher is clearly mentally ill. The fear of loneliness and illness of his sister were slowly driving him into madness. One night Rodrick Usher rushes to the Narrator asking him to help bury his sister who had suddenly passed in the night.

Seven days after burying his sister Rodrick became noticeable madder until at last, he confessed to the Narrator that they buried his sister alive. As he was telling this to the Narrator the spirit of his sister dragged Rodrick to the depth of the House of Usher as it crashes down into the Earth. The message in this text is that the fear of death will lead to an individual to madness. This is seen in the character of Rodrick whose fear of losing his sister to death caused him to kill her.

Lesson II: All Death Is Unexpected 

The second conversation between Death and Poe leads to the Tell-Tale Heart. The Tell- Tale Heart is a story about Assistant who murders the rich Old man he is working for. The Old man had no loved his Assistant like a son and even left him in his will. The Assistant grew tired of waiting for the old man to die and strangled him to death in his is sleep.

He then proceeds to cut the man into pieces and bury him beneath the floorboards of the house. Three police officers came to the house after a neighbor heard a scream; the Assistant began to go mad as he heard the Old man’s heart beat. The Assistant then confess his crimes to the policy. The story is about how death comes for people unexpectedly in the night like a killer.

Lesson III: Death Cannot Be Cheated

The third conversation Poe has with Death leads into The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. M. Valdemar agrees to call the Narrator prior to the hour of his death to be mesmerized by the Narrator. M. Valdemar’s doctor left him to sleep in the mesmeric trance until death. The mesmeric trance seemed to had arrested death and the narrator and the doctors monitored him for several days. The Narrator then decides to wake M. Valdemar to understand his wishes. At the moment that M. Valdemar wakes Death seized him and his body liquidated. This story is used to illustrate that death can not be cheated her due.

Lesson IV: It Is Better Not To Know Your End

The Pit and the Pendulum is about a man who was arrested by the Inquisition and brought before the Tribunal. The Tribunal of the Inquisition sentenced the man to death by auto de fe. The auto de fe is where an individual is tied to a stake surround by hay and brush. They place a conical hat on his head and he is set on fire until the dies.

The man witnessed the auto de fe of another man before being brought to prison and is terrified of his impending fate. The man slow goes made as he waits for his death at the hand of the Inquisition until the French revolutionary forces free him from prison. The lesson that the Pit and Pendulum teaches us is that if we knew the manner of our death we knew we would never begin to live.

Lesson V: No One Can Escape Death

The Masque of Red Death is the story about Prince Prospero and 1000 other nobles who take refugee in a monastery to escape the Red Death a plague that swept the lands causing all who caught it to die a gruesome death. Prospero and 1000 nobles intent to wait out the plague in luxury while the outside population died.

One night Prospero threw a masquerade party to lift up the spirits of the nobles. A man entered dressed in blood red robes wearing the mask of a red skull. Prospero and his guests forcible remove the mask of the individual only to find out that it was the Red Death himself. All the people there then fall to the plague and die.

This is the last story that Death share with Poe and teaches the audience that Death conquers all. Death is the every present shadow in the back of the human mind that haunts our dreary days. She is our every present companion throughout life who inspires greatness and madness in the mind of men.

We are afraid of her yet irresistibly attracted to her all-consuming embrace. We can run from her, delay her yet, in the end she will have her way with us. No one can escape Death’s loving embrace and all we can do is greet her with a kiss.

 

 

 

 

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One thought

  1. Thank you for the great article.
    I am very touch by your analysis.
    Please spread the word. 9 years of my life went into the making.
    Raul Garcia. Director of Extraordinary Tales

    Like

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