Critical Theory

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bdannie65
Words 3059
Pages 13
The Maddening Struggle
The Sphinx, by Edgar Allen Poe, is a story of a man who has to battle his own demons to stay sane. With such a paranoid character, the narrator’s struggle begins to reflect in his daily life, only aiding in his neurosis. The main illustration of his struggles is the insect, later identified as The Sphinx, which does not appear to be what it is. However, the creature is not the only reflection of the narrator’s paranoia. The reader can identify it in the character’s change in behavior, his daily activity, and in the contrast of both characters in the story. Yet it can be said that the largest piece of evidence of the downfall of the protagonist appears as a ferocious creature that could signify the narrator’s death or madness. Therefore, the narrator’s exaggerated siting of the creature conveys his internal struggle with the outbreak that terrorizes his city.
In New York, an outbreak of Cholera is rampant throughout the city, causing the narrator to leave and stay with a relative for a while. During this stay, the narrator and his host receive messages of all the friends that are dying from the disease, causing them great distress. However, though the host is filled with worry, he doesn’t allow it to effect his demeanor. Instead, he goes to great lengths to try and distract the narrator, who is allowing the constant news of his friend’s demise to influence his character. While reading a book by the window, the narrator looks up and is surprised to a horrific creature climbing down the hill and releasing uproarious sounds. He is convinced that this creature is coming to claim his life, like the cholera is to so many others. After much hesitance, he finally reveals what he has seen to his host, only for him to explain that what he saw was actually an insect on the window, and not a monstrous creature. Using psychoanalytic…...

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