ASSIGNMENT: Poe's Single Effect
Poe & "The Single Effect"
Poe could easily be considered the father of the short story as a popular and respected literary genre. Poe was one of the first authors (like Brander Matthews) to classify and define the short story a distinct literary genre that had specific characteristics. He felt that the short story deserved the same status as novels and poetry. Poe defined this emerging genre in his review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales. Poe asserted that a short story should constructed to achieve a "certain unique or single effect." Poe felt that every character, incident and detail should contribute to this effect, "...in the whole of the composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design." Poe went further, stating that if a writer's "very initial sentence did not tend to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step."
Poe restated his views about the single effect often. In the Philosophy of Composition, he wrote:
The "Fall of the House of Usher" is an excellent example of Poe's theory of "the single effect." This story has been carefully constructed to create a growing sense of terror.
STEP 1: Click "add submission" to open a text box. Answer the following question in a paragraph form.
STEP 2: Re-read your paragraph. Check that you have at least four events or details and commentary.
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