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A voyage in the South Seas is swept off course by a hurricane, and the narrator encounters a series of life-threatening events, culminating in his ship getting sucked into the vortex of the sea’s black hole.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1833)
The narrator has two subsequent marriages, the first to the darkly featured and brilliant Lady Ligeia; the second to her opposite, the fair and blonde Lady Rowena. Both women die quickly and mysteriously after their marriage ceremonies, and the narrator’s persistent memories of Ligeia bring her back to life to replace Lady Rowena’s corpse.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “Ligeia” (1838)
The narrator is summoned by his boyhood friend Roderick Usher to visit his gloomy estate during a period of emotional distress. The narrator learns that Roderick’s twin sister, Madeline, is sick, and when she dies, the men bury Madeline in a tomb only to later discover that they have entombed her alive.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
The narrator discovers that a classmate shares not only his name, William Wilson, but also his physical build, style of dress, and even vocal intonation. A fear of losing his identity drives the narrator to murder his rival, but the crime ultimately brings about his own death.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “William Wilson” (1839)
In this detective story, Poe introduces the brilliant sleuth C. Auguste Dupin. When the police arbitrarily arrest Dupin’s friend for the gruesome murders of a mother and daughter, Dupin begins an independent investigation and solves the case.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841)
Obsessed with the vulture-like eye of an old man he otherwise loves and trusts, the narrator smothers the old man, dismembers his body, and conceals the parts under the floorboards of the bedroom. When the police arrive to investigate reports of the old man’s shrieks, the narrator tries to keep his cool but hears what he thinks is the beating of the old man’s heart, leading him to rip up the floorboards and confess his crime.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843)
Captured during the time of the Inquisition, the narrator is imprisoned where he fends off hungry rats, avoids falling into a giant pit, and escapes the sharp blades of a descending pendulum. As the walls of his cell are about to close in and drive him into the pit, he is saved by the French army.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1843)
When the narrator hangs a cat he had adored, the cat returns from the dead to haunt him. The narrator tries to strike back at the cat but kills his wife in the process, and then the cat betrays to the police where the narrator has hidden his wife’s corpse.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Black Cat” (1843)
In this sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” the detective Dupin recovers a stolen letter to foil a villain’s plan. The police attempt investigations but come up with nothing. Identifying with the criminal mind, Dupin discovers evidence so obvious that it had gone unnoticed.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Purloined Letter” (1844)
A disease called the Red Death ravages a kingdom. Prince Prospero retreats to his castle and throws a lavish masquerade ball to celebrate his escape from death. At midnight, a mysterious guest arrives and, as the embodiment of the Red Death, kills Prospero and all his guests.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Masque of the Red Death” (1845)
The vengeful Montresor repays the supposed insults of his enemy, Fortunato. Luring Fortunato into the crypts of his home with the promise of Amontillado sherry, Montresor entombs Fortunato in a wall while the carnival rages above them.
Read a full Summary & Analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846)
Ace your assignments with our guide to Poe's Short Stories!