The Horrors of Capital: Violence and Commodities in Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories
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This paper analyzes four of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, "Berenice," "The Tell Tale Heart," "The Black Cat" and "The Imp of the Perverse," in which a first-person narrator commits acts of violence against others. The similarities between the use of gothic tropes in both Poe and Marx demonstrate the potential for these tropes to capture the violent nature of capitalism. In “Berenicë,” for example, a wealthy man demonstrates the violent consequences of the constant hunger for more and more capital with his obsession over and ultimate removal of his fiancée's teeth. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” a man kills his paternal figure in a desperate attempt to gain property. In “The Black Cat” the narrator violently exercises power over others in an exploration of domestic politics and slavery. Finally, in “The Imp of the Perverse” Poe explores the pressures of the capitalist publishing industry.