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Taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's collection of gothic tales: a new historicist study of 19th century america's most prevalent fear

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par Salma LAYOUNI
Université de Sousse - Master 2013

Disponible en mode multipage

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Republic of Tunisia

Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research University of Sousse

Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's Collection of Gothic
Tales: A New Historicist Study of 19th Century America's
Most Prevalent Fear

A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
Master of Arts Degree in English Literature

Candidate: Salma Layouni Supervisor: Dr. Edward Sklepowich

Academic Year:


I would like to express my special gratitude and thanks to my supervisor and mentor Dr Edward Sklepowich for his limitless encouragement and patience. I would like to thank him for his selfless dedication to my academic development. I owe my deepest gratitude to all my MA teachers who guided me throughout two years, providing me with a constant support and care.

Likewise, I would acknowledge my gratitude to my friend and teacher Mr. Mehrez Mzoughi for his endless love and support from secondary school until the present moment. Thank you for believing in me.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratefulness to my family. Words cannot express how grateful I am to my mother for all of the sacrifices that she has made in my behalf. Thank you for your prayers and for your support in the hard moments of my life.


This dissertation presents a new historicist study of the motif of taphephobia, or fear of premature burial, in Edgar Allan Poe's collection of gothic tales. The choice of new historicist theory, particularly Stephen Greenblatt and Louis Montrose's concepts, is a strategic choice to go beyond the critics' psychoanalytic analysis of the same motif, using mainly Sigmund Freud's theory of tripartite psyche. This paper offers a study of the different strategies used by the author to reflect the 19th century United States' rife phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to show how Poe's use of taphephobia reflects his society and era, showing an image of an obsessive United States controlled by the fear that reshapes the lifestyle of a whole nation. It also presents a reflection of the collapse of the religious dogma and faith and the rise of the belief in scientific approach. Hence, taphephobia is not studied as a psychological phenomenon but rather as a historical event. This dissertation offers a complete image of taphephobia through the literary analysis of Poe's tales. It clarifies the reasons behind the phenomenon through a parallel study of the characters' agony and the United States' public horror that leads to a number of precautions adapted by the whole society. The conclusion reached is that Poe uses literary representation of taphephobia to show how the obsession becomes the driving force behind the rise of whole industry and how the private events of death and burial become a national affair that necessitates the power of the law.

Keywords: New Historicism, intertextuality, historicity of the text and textuality of the history, anecdote, sublime, safety coffins, taphephobia.


Introduction 1

Chapter I: New historicism and Literature 5

1. New Historicism: Definition and Origins 5

2. The Influences of the Other Theories on New Historicism 6

2.1.Michel Foucault: The Godfather of New Historicism 6

2.2. Clifford Geertz: the bridge between Anthropology and New Historicism 9

2.3. The Marxist Influence 11

3. New Historicist Theorists and Concepts 13

3.1. Stephen Greenblatt: The Originator of New Historicism 13

3.2. The Theory of Intertextuality 16

3.3. Louis Montrose: the Key Pillar of New Historicism 17

4. New Historicism : Concluding Notes 19

Chapter 2: Historicity of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales 20

1. Taphephobia: : The Essence of Poe's Definition of Sublime 25
1.1. Representation of Female Characters: A Glimpse into Poe's Biography and Era


2. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: An Encyclopedic World of Literature 33

2.1. The Choice of Taphephobia 33

2.2. The Use of Epigraphs : Another Strategy to Highlight the Universality of Poe's

Tales 40

2.3. Characters' Names : A Well Studied Choice 44

3. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: Taphephobia as a Medical Concept 47

3.1. Edgar Allan Poe: An Artist with Scientific Mind 50

4. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: Concluding Notes 53

Chapter 3: Taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic Tales : A Reflection of 19th

Century United States' Worst Nightmares 55

1. The Use of "Anecdote": A Strategic Concept to Record the Phenomenon 55

2. Taphephobia: The Nightmarish Reality 58

2.1. The Role of Newspapers: The Accusation of Medicine 59

2.2. Taphephobia and the Decortication of Religion 66

3. Adapted Precautions : A Reflection of an Obsessed Society 72

3.1. Putrefaction 73

3.2. Wills 74

3.3. The rise of Safety Coffins Industry 75

3.4. Bills 77

4. Concluding Notes 79

Conclusion 80

Works Cited 83

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In 1849, Poe passed away in a mysterious way that resembles, by the irony of fate, to the mystifying death of his characters. Poe's short life, poverty, depression and addiction did not prevent him to be one of the most remarkable authors of the gothic literature. Poe's literary uniqueness lies in his classical beginnings that respect the traditions of the gothic fiction to deal with psychological issues that overwhelmed the American society during his era. Poe's Gothic tales share some exclusive features that make his works and style distinguished from the other gothic writers. The elements of death, madness, and haunted houses present the omnipresent motifs that underline Poe's gothic style. These elements are generally related , by critics, to Poe's "gothic" life and especially to the mysterious illness and death of his young bride and his addiction to opium and alcohol. Poe's vivid description of the psychological agony of his characters and the complex depiction of the fine line between life and death, reason and madness drives the critics to consider Poe's tales as a semi autobiographical works in which he reflects his own sadness after his wife's death and the mid way state between reason and madness, summarized in his state of addiction. Poe's tales and poems (notably "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven") share the gloomy description of the death of a beautiful woman and the horror that leads to madness. The impact of Poe's biography is also highlighted through his attempts to reflect his society and era in his writings, showing the hidden side of the United States. In this context, the study of taphephobia stands as a study of a historical and social phenomenon that prevailed the American psyche during the 19th C.

The term taphephobia is coined by Enrico Morselli, an Italian psychiatrist, in the mid-19th C to refer to the obsessive fear of premature burial. He devoted his essay "Dysmorphophobia and Taphephobia: Two Hitherto Undescribed Forms of Insanity with Fixed Ideas" to analyze the obsessive behaviour of the taphephobic and the gradual development of the natural, innate fear of death into an obsessive compulsive fear of being

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prematurely buried (107). As the title of his essay suggests, Morselli focuses in his analysis on the idea that taphephobia is an obsession that blocks the rationality of the human mind and fixes it upon one idea of the possible danger of being entombed alive. This fixation turns one's life to an earthly hell, trying to reshape his lifestyle according to his phobia. The Italian psychiatrist examines also the different ways adapted by the taphephobic to assure himself, considering wills as one of the common solutions used in 19th C (109). He highlights the fact that taphephobia, as a form of "psychopathology", causes an unbearable psychological pain that leads to melancholy, caused by the illusion of being under a constant threat of premature burial, leading the victims to act maniacally to reassure themselves (108-109). Despite the fact that the term taphephobia is coined in the 19th C, the psychological phenomenon is not a result of that era solely, it is rather deeply rooted in the history. It dates back to ancient civilizations like the Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Ancient China and the Pre-Islamic Arabia where the premature burial was a frequent practice for different reasons which intensify taphephobia.

Morselli's scientific analysis of taphephobia reflects Poe's presentation of the same concept in the tales under study, which are "Berenice" (1835), "Morella" (1835), "Ligeia" (1838), "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839), "The Cask of Amontillado" (1846) and "The Premature Burial" (1850). The choice of these tales is not arbitrary, but rather a result of a close examination that these particular group of tales study the same motif, in different ways, forming different pieces of one picture. Besides, these tales were written approximately in the same period, which can be related to the author's biography. This period presents a period of psychological crisis for Poe, since his beloved bride Virginia Clemm suffered from tuberculosis and died by 1847. This devastating event turns to be a source of inspiration since he transforms his woe, melancholy and shock to masterpieces that dealt with one of the controversial issues in 19th C United States. Poe chooses taphephobia as one example of the

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ultimate horror that the human mind can face . He vividly depicts the mixed feeling of horror and obsession, frustration and fear lived by the taphephobic. However, the singularity of Poe's style lies in his multifaceted presentation of the motif. Poe does not restrict himself to the psychological analysis of the motif but he rather transcends it to reach a deeper level. Within the process of the psychological presentation, Poe presents other social dimensions of the motif, in an attempt to show the different ramification of taphephobia.

This dissertation presents an attempt to study the recurrent motif of taphephobia from a New Historicist perspective. New Historicism presents a 20th Century theory based upon the study of text and context simultaneously, considering the literary work as a result of cultural interactions and interchangeability. Unlike most critics who used the Freudian theory to analyze characters and their morbid phobia, relating it the tripartite human psyche , this work sets forth to treat taphephobia as a historical, social event rather than a purely psychological phenomenon. The present dissertation is composed of three chapters. The first chapter is entitled "New Historicism and Literature", in which there is a developed definition of the theory used in the analysis and its main influences. The second section of the chapter is devoted to present the major New Historicist concepts, developed mainly by Stephen Greenblatt and Louis Montrose, that will be used in the following chapters.

The second chapter, under the title " Historicity of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales", studies the different examples of intertextuality, one strategy used by the author to study the motif of taphephobia. This chapter reveals the literary, historical and religious roots of the phenomenon, showing the parallelism between Poe's tales and other historical and literary documents. The chapter unveils the different layers of the meaning of taphephobia, showing how Poe intermingles between the different lexical fields of the concept. Besides, this chapter sets forth the relationship between the characters' representation (notably female characters) and the author's biography.

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The final chapter, entitled " Taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic Tales : A Reflection of 19th Century United States' Worst Nightmares", studies how taphephobia is presented not only as a private, psychological status but rather as a national event that reshaped the American lifestyle and interferes in the different fields. The chapter deals with the power of taphephobia to unveil the different social and religious illnesses of the American society in 19th C.

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Chapter 1: New Historicism and Literature

1. New Historicism: Definition and Origins:

Until the 1970s, literary criticism was marked by a text-based approach, a general assumption characterized by a close reading of a text in total isolation from its cultural and socio-political contexts. However, in the 1980s a revolutionary theory emerged as a reaction against the centrality of the literary text that characterized many theories like Russian Formalism and New Criticism. The American literary critic and scholar Stephen Greenblatt coined the term "new historicism", transcending the aestheticism of literary criticism by studying literature in a dialogic relationship with history.

New historicism starts mainly with a revision of the canonical Renaissance texts (notably William Shakespeare's history plays), relocating them in relation to non-literary sources of the same era. This re-situation comes out of new historicist consideration that literature should be studied within its cultural system, since, as Pierre Bourdieu expresses in his book The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (1993), "to understand the practices of writers and artists and not least their products, entails understanding that they are the result of the meeting of two histories: the history of the positions they occupy and the history of their disposition" (61). New historicists consider that literary texts are a result of cultural negotiations and that culture is a product of literature. In this context, Louis Montrose states, in his essay "Professing the Renaissance" (1989), that history is reconstructed through literary texts and that "our analyses and our understandings necessarily proceed from our own historically, socially and institutionally shaped vantage points; that the histories we reconstruct are the textual constructs of critics who are, ourselves, historical subjects" (23). New historicism or, as Greenblatt names it later "cultural poetics", is generally defined through its counterpart old historicism, which is characterized by a factual

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description of history as a set of chronological events that happened in one era, setting rigid boundaries between the literary and the historical fields. Despite the fact that this theory arose as a reaction against the text-based theorists, the reader can find the influence of many philosophers and of other theorists namely Michel Foucault, the anthropologist Clifford Geertz, and Marxists like Louis Althusser and Frederic Jameson.

2. The Influences of the Other Theories on New Historicism:

2.1.Michel Foucault: The Godfather of New Historicism:

The strange coincidence between the flourishing of new historicism and the visit of the French philosopher Michel Foucault to the University of California at Berkeley in the 1980s can be read as an act of baptizing the theory, especially after we notice the tremendous influence of Foucault on its every key idea. The impact of Foucault on new historicists can be recorded at the level of five concepts: the Foucauldian definition of discourse, the concept of episteme, the concept of pouvoir/ savoir (power and knowledge), his theory of Panopticism and his definition of history.

To define "discourse", Michel Foucault transcends the linguistic dimension of the concept, stating in his book The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), that discourse presents "the general domain of all statements, sometimes as an individualizable group of statements and sometimes as a regulated practice that accounts for a certain number of statements" (90). Discourse is defined as the act of producing and representing knowledge through statements. It is language in use in a specific field (medicine, law...) and by specific institutions (church, state ...). Thus, the society presents a discursive battlefield where the centralized and the marginalized discourses struggle against each other for survival and domination.

The concept of discourse presents a fertile ground to set a more macroscopic concept, which is episteme referring to the connecting web that relates different discourses (historical, scientific, judicial, religious...) into a larger, and more coherent structure. In his book

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Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 (1980), Foucault provides a clear definition of episteme as "[...] the strategic apparatus which permits of separating out from among all the statements which are possible those that will be acceptable within, I won't say a scientific theory, but a field of scientificity, and which it is possible to say are true or false. The episteme is the `apparatus' which makes possible the separation, not of the true from the false, but of what may from what may not be characterized as scientific" (197). New historicists used the concept of episteme, developed by Foucault, in order to re-situate literary texts within their cultural and historical contexts, considering that literature as a field that does not reflect a particular epoch but it rather participates in shaping it, becoming a cultural and historical agent. Thus, the literary text as a discourse is situated within a connection of other discourses (political, cultural, historical, aesthetic and religious

discourses) sharing a mutual influence.

The tremendous impact of Foucauldian concepts is further accentuated through the adoption of the concept of pouvoir/savoir. New historicists believe in the power of pervasiveness, a notion shared with Foucault who believes in the omnipresence of power. Foucault does not use the classical, conventional definition of power, being related to the judicial and political field. He rather uses a more inclusive definition, referring to power as "the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization [...] forming a chain or a system" ( The History of Sexuality 92). Inspired by Foucault, new historicists try to figure out the different forms and shapes that power takes from one historical period to another. Stephen Greenblatt, the key figure of new historicism, uses this theory of power/ knowledge to study the debate between the literature of English Renaissance (particularly Shakespeare's history plays) as a form of discourse and its Elizabethan society over the circulation and operation of power.

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The French philosopher further develops his thesis on power by studying its operation and comparing it to a panopticon, an 18th C design of prison, elaborated by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, where the watchtower is situated in the middle of the prison. The panopticon, as a new architecture, is based upon the idea of maintaining power and discipline constantly, which necessitates the inspector's omnipresence. Bentham chooses to situate the watchtower in the center to permit the inspector to have an eye on prisoners without being seen or identified, giving him a god-like existence, a presence through absence. In the introduction to Jeremy Bentham: The Panopticon Writings, Miran Bazovic defined panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example"(1). The whole notion of power is not built upon the inspector's physical presence but rather upon the prisoners' unawareness of his illusive "invisible omnipresence" (1). This 18th C design of an all-encompassing prison draws Foucault's attention to the power procedure in modern, democratic societies. In his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975), Foucault starts first by further defining the mechanism of panopticon as

The diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form; its

functioning, abstracted from any obstacle, resistance or friction, must be represented as a pure architectural and optical system [...] It is polyvalent in its applications; it serves to reform prisoners, but also to treat patients, to instruct schoolchildren, to confine the insane, to supervise workers, to put beggars and idlers to work. It is a type of location of bodies in space, of distribution of individuals in relation to one another, of hierarchical organization, of disposition of centers and channels of power, of definition of the instruments and modes of intervention of power, which can be implemented in hospitals, workshops, schools, prisons. Whenever one is dealing with a multiplicity of

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individuals on whom a task or a particular form of behavior must be imposed, the panoptic schema may be used. (205)

Foucault then elaborates Bentham's view that people of democratic societies need to believe in their constant surveillance in order to guarantee power and order. Foucault believes that the supposedly democratic societies use a kind of mind control by giving an illusion of freedom while they are constantly observed and controlled. Foucault expresses that Bentham's design presents a microcosm of what power stands for. The Foucauldian power is just the

panopticon, "visible" for everyone since it is centralized and "unverifiable", since no one can verify if he is observed or not (203). Power is not grouped in one place but rather forms a whole hierarchy of organized institutions that control every aspect of daily life. This particular pervasive image of power (being a form of self- discipline) presents a starting point for many literary and political theories and notably Greenblatt's thesis in his book Renaissance Self Fashioning.

Another key notion that shaped the new historicist theory is the Foucauldian reading of history. He adopts an archeological method, viewing history as a series of discontinuities and ruptures and that there is no continuity between different historical epochs. History is a number of epistemes that shape every aspect of a culture of one era, which is itself isolated from what it precedes and follows it. Greenblatt uses the same notion of historical segments to study in parallel the different forms of violation in both Renaissance drama and society. Foucault is one of the pillars of new historicism. He presents the major influential figure that inspired new historicists to form their revolutionary theory that marked the 1980s. However, there is another key field that inspired new historicism, which is anthropology and notably the ideas of the American cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz.

2.2. Clifford Geertz: the bridge between Anthropology and New Historicism:

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Like Foucault, Clifford Geertz is considered as another figure associated with new historicism. He is an American anthropologist, who is considered to be the web that connects anthropology with the world of literary studies. He shares with new historicists the belief that the human being is a creature fully dependent on culture. The main influence of Geertz lies in his concept of "thick description", a term borrowed from the British philosopher Gilbert Ryle. Ryle uses the term in his lectures in the 1960s entitled "Thinking and Reflecting" and "the Thinking of Thoughts : What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?" in a context of interpreting the human behavior within a particular situation. In Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry (2001), Thomas Schwandt provides a concise definition of Ryle's concept of "thick description" asserting, "It is not simply a matter of amassing relevant detail. Rather to thickly describe social action is actually to begin to interpret it by recording the circumstances, meanings, intentions, strategies, motivations and so on that characterize a particular episode" (255). Ryle's definition of "thick description" consists of using the different contexts as a way to interpret thoughts and behaviors. This method presents the basic pillar to have a "thick", deep and manifold understanding. Geertz uses Ryle's concept in the context of anthropology. His essay "Thick description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture"(1973) presents a major reference in which Geertz fully develops his own view of "thick description". He starts by adding a semiotic dimension to culture by defining it as a world of signs that need to be interpreted and then he states that "thick description" is the appropriate title for anthropology and the right method for ethnography.

Geertz defines "thick description" in comparison with "thin description" stating that the former allows an adequate, profound account of meaning by "draw[ing] large conclusions from small but very densely textured facts" ( "Thick Description" 28) while the latter is a misleading way of reading and interpreting a culture. Geertz's creative combination of semiotics and history inspires new historicists and drives them to adopt his concept of "thick

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description". Stephen Greenblatt includes his own definition of Geertz's concept, adding that it "could be exceedingly straightforward or alternatively, exceedingly complex depending on the length of the chain of parasitical intentions and circumstantial detachments" (Practicing New Historicism 24). Thick description helps new historicists to examine the way a culture and its people fashion themselves and to construct the different meanings out from the textual exchanges, focusing on details to rebuild the general linguistic, cultural and social image of the past. New historicists, then use the same method as Ryle and Geertz by studying deeply and "thickly" the different details of each text, being engrossed in a particular historical period.

2.3. The Marxist Influence:

New Historicism is also marked by the impact of Marxist theory and particularly two theorists: the American Fredric Jameson and the French Louis Althusser. Studying the relationship between text and its context, Stephen Greenblatt deals with the same question rooted in Marxism. As Jan R.Veenstra asserts in her essay "The New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt: On Poetics of Culture and the Interpretation of Shakespeare", he builds his definition of text, as a mirror of the cultural dialects that shape a particular society, upon Jameson's "attempt to justify a materialist integration of all discourses and to that end seeks to expose the fallaciousness of a separate artistic sphere"(177). Greenblatt starts from Jameson's theory to show that the duality of uniformity and diversity that forms a characteristic of the poetics of capitalist society can affect the appreciation of textuality (Veestra, 178). Jameson's book The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981) presents one of the key books that largely reflect the new historicist ideology and that succeed to quench the thirst of new historicists to build their widely known theory. In his book, Jameson refers to other theorists like Luckas, Freud, Barthes, Levi-Strauss and Frye to express the centrality of history as a fundamental part in culture, art and literature. He considers the appropriate

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interpretation of literary texts as a way to relate literature to the world of history, arguing that history is actually present in the deep, hidden side of every canonic text and that the role of the interpreter is to unveil that side. In this context , Jameson gives the example of the novel as a new literary genre, developed in the 18th C, stressing on the role of the political social and economic circumstances of the 18th C societies in the understanding of such a genre as novel. Jameson's focus on the importance of history can be summarized in his famous slogan "Always Historicize!" (The Political Unconscious 9) which emphasizes the fact that, as Satya P. Mohanty expresses in her book Literary Theory and the Claims of History:

Postmodernism, Objectivity, Multicultural Politics, "Interpretation is [...] an opening up of the text to the winds of history" (100).

The impact of Marxism on new historicism is further accentuated through the influence of Louis Althusser on Greenblatt. Stephen Greenblatt finds inspiration in the way Althusser studies the way institutions are shaped in textual forms and presents the different changes and strategies of subversion to regain power. Greenblatt was also inspired by Althusser's concept of Ideological State Apparatuses, referring to the group of institutions, like education, the religious institution of churches, law, and the modern and the most used institution of media, that serves to impose the ideology of the dominant power (the state) on individuals. Greenblatt uses this Althusserian concept in his attempt to locate the sources of culturally widespread powers in texts. The essence of new historicism lies in the process of reconstruction of the ideology of a particular text. Greenblatt takes the Althusserian definition of ideology (the fact of being with concrete, material existence within two levels of apparatuses) and uses it in the process of interpretation. He states that the text is a product of a particular ideology of one age and that the process of its interpretation is affected by two ideologies: the author's ideology and the reader's ideology. Thus, Greenblatt affirms that our understanding of the past is inescapably subjective.

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As a theory of literary criticism, new historicism shares different principles with other theories forming unusual consideration of the relationship between literature and history. It widens the scope of literary interpretation by including other fields and disciplines viewing the literary text not merely as a piece of fiction, which should be analyzed in an attempt to decode the author's intended meanings, but rather as a way to build the forgotten broken image of the history of a particular culture in a particular epoch. New Historicist research is associated mainly with three periods: the Renaissance (Stephen Greenblatt), The Victorian period (Catherine Gallagher's studies) and the Romantic period (Jerome McGann). Stephen Greenblatt and Louis Montrose present the key figures of new historicism who established the key concepts and the key notions and ideas of the theory.

3. New Historicist Theorists and Concepts:

3.1. Stephen Greenblatt: The Originator of New Historicism:

The American literary critic and scholar Stephen Greenblatt is widely known as the theorist who coined the term "New Historicism". However, as Jurgen Pieters asserts in his book Moments of Negotiation: The New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt (2001), preceding Greenblatt, Wesley Morris used this term in his book Towards a New Historicism (1972) in reference to Murray Krieger's study of the New Critics contextualization (267). Greenblatt is associated with his multiple definitions of New Historicism, foregrounding its assumptions and general tenets. In his introduction to The Forms of Power and Power of Forms in the English Renaissance (1982), he defines new historicism in comparison with John Dover Wilson's old historical criticism. He states that

[It] erodes the firm ground of both criticism and literature. It tends to ask questions about its own methodological assumptions and those of others. [...]. The critical practice [...] challenges the assumptions that guarantee a secure distinction between "literary foreground" and "political background" or more

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generally between artistic production and other kinds of social production [...]. (The Greenblatt Reader 2)

Accordingly, Greenblatt deals with literary texts as a product of a particular epoch shaping the history through linguistic signs. Thus, he situates new historicism between textual and contextual spheres of the process of interpretation. Greenblatt finds in Renaissance literature and distinctly the Shakespearian history plays a fertile ground to show that literary texts are not a set of fixed, lifeless historical facts but rather an active form of art that necessitates a reference to its social, historical and cultural contexts in order to grasp its meaning. Thus, the relationship between literature and history is autonomous and reciprocal. In his collection The Greenblatt Reader (2005), Greenblatt states that he refuses to consider new historicism as a theory insisting that it is "a collection of practices rather than a school or a method" ("Introduction: Greenblatt and New Historicism" 3). He sets a list of its main assumptions regarding the new historicist view of culture and history and their priority to "re-examine" the relationship between literature and history focusing on their mutual overlapping. He also develops in one issue of the journal Genre the essence of new historicism that literature is a historical construct and that in order to understand a particular literature, we should understand the context in which it flourished. He further accentuated this idea in his essay "Towards a Poetics of Culture", stating that the literary text is "a product of a set of manipulations" and "a product of a negotiation between the creator or class of creators, equipped with complex, communally shared repertoire of conventions and institutions and practices of society" (13). For instance, Edgar Allan Poe offers an image of the reconstructed history of the cultural, social and religious ideologies of the 19th C America through the motif of taphephobia. Poe used his personal repertoire of religious doctrines and myths and beliefs to build a general conception of the permanent fear of premature burial that overwhelmed American social and political life, becoming an enduring obsession. He starts from his social

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context to reach an overall visualization of the current psychological state of the American citizens during the 19th C through a detailed description of fictitious characters who suffer from this widespread obsession. The reader can notice the parallelism between Poe's own biography as a man who suffered from claustrophobia and the detailed description of the narrator of "The Premature Burial" stuck in a dark, narrow space. Understanding Poe's use of taphephobia as a recurrent motif in six tales necessitates a reference to the medical documents of that era that describe some unknown hysterical trances (catalepsy) that misguide people and lead actually to the phenomenon of premature internment. Hence, the reference to other non-literary documents is a way that helps the reader or the critic to be deeply involved in the process of interpretation.

Another hallmark of new historicism, presented and discussed by Greenblatt and Catherine Gallagher in their book Practicing New Historicism (2000), is the concept of anecdote. Greenblatt builds his own conception of anecdote upon his study of Joel Fineman's essay "The History of the Anecdote: Fiction and Fiction". In their book Practicing New Historicism, Greenblatt and Gallagher define this concept like the literary texts, being "fictions in the sense of things made, both are shaped by the imagination and by the available resources of narration and description [...]"(31). In his book Learning to Curse (2007), Greenblatt further develops the definition of anecdote, stating that it presents a mélange of literariness and historicity since it "has at once something that exceeds the literary, a narrative form and a pointed, referential access to what lies beyond or beneath that form" (7). Greenblatt asserts that his method starts with an example or anecdote to show that history is also a narrative discourse and not a number of fixed events. His concentration on anecdote as a method underscores, as Claire Colebrook explains in her book New Literary Histories: New Historicism and Contemporary Criticism (1997), "the difference and contingency at work in the stories which circulate at any historical moment" (216). In the second chapter of his book

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Practicing New Historicism, Greenblatt concludes that the use of anecdotes as a first step of his analytic method presents "an escape from conventional canonicity and a revival of the canon, both a transgression against the domestic and a safe return to it" (47). In simpler terms, anecdote presents a midway between the fictitious dimension of literature and the "touch of the real"1. It helps the author to liberate himself from the strict aestheticism through studying freely and directly the different historical and social issues that were not examined by the canonic classical literature. In his book Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980), Greenblatt starts with the concept of anecdote to analyze the Shakespearian Iago's "improvisation of power"2. He uses "an incident recounted in 1525 by Peter Martyr in the seventh decade of De orbe novo" (226). This incident shows how the Spanish invaders used the native's cosmological and mythical beliefs to convince them to be slaves. The use of this anecdote as a starting point to reach a full understanding of the way Iago used his intellectual power to manipulate Othello leads us to deal with another fundamental element of new historicism, which is intertextuality.

3.2. The Theory of Intertextuality:

The concept of intertextuality is borrowed from the post-stucturalist critic Julia Kristeva who coined the term in 1966. It refers to the interrelationship between a particular work and other texts at the level of creation and interpretation. Marko Juvan defines the concept of intertextuality in his History and Poetics of Intertextuality (2008) as the fact that "a literary work's structure and text for both author and reader take shape in relation to other signifying practices entered into those methods as did the assumption that by acquiring and reshaping other texts, a work takes its place in a tradition and socio-cultural context" (112). Thus, the text presents the starting point as well as the finish line in an open and dialogic

1 It is the title of the second chapter of Greenblatt's book Practicing New Historicism

2 It is the title of the last chapter of Greenblatt's book Renaissance Self-Fashioning

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relation. New historicism transcends the textual essence of the theory of intertextuality in an attempt to highlight the relationship between text and other historicized cultural materials. New historicism widens the scope of intertextuality by discovering the social, cultural and historical dimension of the concept. Greenblatt uses the theory of intertextuality in his analysis of William Shakespeare's The Tempest and notably the relationship between Prospero (the colonizer) and Caliban (the colonized native). He studies in his essay "Learning to Curse: Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century" the parallelism between the relationship of Prospero and Caliban, on one hand, and the general attitudes of the European explorers of the New World, using Christopher Columbus's journals on the other hand (Pieters 74).

Following Greenblatt, the study of taphephobia as a historical and a social phenomenon in Edgar Allan Poe's tales can be traced in relation to other iconic literary texts, notably Ann Radcliffe's writings as well as to Greek, Egyptian and Roman mythologies. The influence of the Bible is also significant especially at the level of the religious dimension of the premature burial. Moreover, Poe's detailed depiction of the horror lived by taphephobic characters across the six tales can be traced back to the multiple articles published by iconic newspapers like New York Times and Daily Telegraph, dealing with real life stories of the horrific accidents of premature internment across Europe and US. Actually, in his tale "The Premature Burial", Poe provides the reader with examples of real accidents of premature interment (the example of the Congressman's wife) within a fictional tale of an unknown narrator who suffers from catalepsy and an obsession of being buried alive during a trance. This particular instance of the inclusion of some instances of real accidents to prove the credibility of the narrator leads us to deal with another key concept of new historicism, which is "the historicity of the text and textuality of the history".

3.3. Louis Montrose: the Key Pillar of New Historicism:

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Like the other new historicist scholars, Louis Montrose emphasizes the dialogic relationship between text and history. Montrose summarizes the essence of new historicism in a widely known phrase "the historicity of the text and textuality of history". He provides in his essay "Professing the Renaissance: The Poetics and Politics of Culture", a clear definition of this phrase, focusing on the obligatory presence of the two elements (text and history) in the successful process of interpretation. He states that

By the historicity of texts, I mean to suggest the cultural specificity, the social embedment, of all modes of writing--not only the texts that critics study but also the texts in which we study them. By the textuality of history, I mean to suggest, firstly, that we can have no access to a full and authentic past, a lived material existence, unmediated by the surviving textual traces of the society in question--traces whose survival we cannot assume to be merely contingent but must rather presume to be at least partially consequent upon complex and subtle social processes of preservation and effacement; and secondly that those textual traces are themselves subject to subsequent textual mediations when they are construed as the "documents" upon which historians ground their own texts, called "histories".(20)

By this definition, Montrose foregrounds the new historicist method based upon an equal treatment of textuality and historicity. He states that the understanding of a particular text should not be in total isolation from its context but it is rather a cultural process par excellence since the literary text is a cultural artefact. Montrose's phrase confirms the idea that the history is by definition a discourse that shares the same characteristics of the narration. History is structured like any literary text upon subjectivity and that is why Louis Montrose defines history as textual. Accordingly, Poe's six tales can be considered as historical documents that record a medical and a social phenomenon that occurred during the 19th C America. The

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itemized description of the cases of catalepsy or apparent death can be recorded in other nonliterary, medical documents of the same era. Hence, understanding the use of taphephobia as a common motif cannot be achieved without a deep understanding of the social and historical context of America in 19th Century, characterized by the prevalence of epidemics like the yellow fever and cholera that caused near death trances leading to premature interment. In the process of interpreting Poe's tales, the use of historical documents and medical books and news paper articles is a must to reconstruct the general image of the past, unveiling the social, political and religious pieces of the puzzle of America during 19th century.

4. New Historicism : Concluding Notes:

The quintessence of new historicism is its context-based approach, based on the interdisciplinarity between literary text and history. The text presents a product of cultural negotiations. The reference to non-literary, historical documents is a necessity to be able to grasp the full meaning of the text. New historicism presents a method of close analysis, taking the text as a starting point referring to the culture. New historicism builds its theory upon the assumption that the literary negotiation occurs at two levels: First, there is no author outside his culture since he produces a text from a standpoint in his social, cultural and historical context. Thus, the author presents a cultural agent and the text is a cultural product. Second, the reader or the critic reads the text from his cultural perspective, revitalizing the text. New historicism, flourished in 1980s, presents a revolutionary theory that reacts against different text based approaches, believing that text and history are two inseparable entities, necessary for the process of interpretation. Relying on this theory, the study of taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's gothic tales will be based upon the examination of both tales and historical, religious and medical sources in addition to the use of media (newspapers) in order to analyze the recurrent and excessive use of the taphephobia as a theme referring to different contexts that helped this phobia to arise as one of the permanent obsession of the 19th C America.

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Chapter 2: Historicity of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales

New historicists' basic feature is that they liberate literary works from the confinements of their aestheticism to reach a wider, global context of culture and history. They believe in the openness of literature to other fields since the author is himself a cultural artifact who reflects his life, beliefs and era in his writings. Aestheticism and history present two inseparable entities, necessary for the understanding of literature, since literary works mirror the author's historical, social and cultural contexts in addition to the different sources that influenced him. Accordingly, the motif of taphephobia will be studied inextricably from Edgar Allan Poe's era, life and interests.

Throughout the six tales under study, Poe presents taphephobia at both the medical and psychological levels. He describes the accidents of premature internments as a necessary step to highlight the morbid fear that overwhelmed the Americans during the 19th C. He reflects the phenomenon of taphephobia through the use of its basic cause, which is premature burial, providing a clear image of his era and further internalizing the horror. The accidents of premature burial were not always exercised mistakenly as in the case of the protagonist in "Morella". They occur in a variety of forms in every tale, creating different stories and events but sharing the same horror and panic. However, the short story "Ligeia" presents a dilemma since it is characterized by an ambiguous description that drives some critics to consider Ligeia as a victim of premature burial who survived the grave to take her revenge from both her husband and his new bride while other critics believe that the appearance of Ligeia is causally the husband's hallucinations due to his consumption of opium and his deep sadness and grief.

Poe's choice of taphephobia is inspired first from his cultural and social milieus. Yet, the representation of the major cause of the phenomenon, which is premature burial, has a

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striking resemblance to ancient mythologies. Taphephobia was fueled by media and notably newspapers that wrote about the terrors of real accidents of premature internment, and the fear is once again on the surface. Several iconic newspapers and notably The New York Times record the psychological torments of people suffering from morbid taphephobia and who experienced their nightmares by being prematurely buried alive. One of the writers who use taphephobia as a pillar of his gothic, blood-chilling tales is Poe. He deals with premature burial, the fuel of that phobia, as a result of a mistaken medical diagnosis. But he also deals with other types of premature burial that date back to antiquity.

In his tale "The Fall of the House of Usher", taphephobia is internalized through the presentation of premature burial, which is its primary cause, in a form of foundation sacrifice done by Roderick Usher, the victim's brother. This idea is conveyed through Poe's analytic description of the different circumstances of Madeleine's premature internment. The place of the vault and the mysterious circumstances of Madeline's death and burial despite the fact that she showed signs of life, show that her death and burial was a form of ritual sacrifice. In this particular tale, Poe transcends the clichéd images of the classical gothic setting, characterized by dark catacombs and secret vaults to personify the setting and to associate it with the character. The house is depicted from the outset of the tale in parallel with the description of Roderick's physical and mental decline, leaving the reader to see that the house and the character are spiritually related and in the instance of the decay of one of them, the other will have the same fate. With the development of the description, Poe highlights the fact that Roderick Usher is interested in different writings characterized by its strange doctrines that led the narrator to express his fear and anxiety saying "I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac [...]" (The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe3 179). This detailed description of both the setting and

3 Hereafter referred to as CTP

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the protagonist Roderick Usher paves the way to the nature of the premature burial that would occur. Roderick's act of insisting to bury his sister alive in a vault under the "upper portion of the house" (180) indicates his particular intention to save the house, and thus himself, from decay by sacrificing his twin sister.

This event echoes the old practices in which premature burial was a form of human sacrifice or what is called foundation sacrifice. In his book Human Sacrifice: In History and Today , the British historian Nigel Davies gives an example of premature entombment as a sacrifice to keep buildings strong , stating that "in the sanctuary in Gezer were found two burnt skeletons of six-year-old children and the skulls of two adolescents that had been sawn in two. At Meggido a girl of fifteen had been killed and buried in the foundations of a large structure. Excavations show that the practice of interring children under new buildings was widespread and some were evidently buried alive" (61). The presentation of the premature burial presents one strategy developed by Poe to fuel the mass horror that overwhelms the American people. The choice of an ancient practice as a basis for his tale may further intensify the panic of the mass since it reflects in life like, detailed depiction, their worst nightmares.

Furthermore, in "The Cask of Amontillado", Poe chooses to show another form of horror presenting the cause of 19th C Americans' morbid phobia differently. The immurement presents a form of harsh punishment between two rivals: the religious Catholic side and the Masonic non religious side, a sacrifice to protect God's power and church. Poe's tale echoes the Biblical story of Jesus' journey to Golgotha where the skulls and bones were scattered like in the catacombs, the death road for Fortunato. Poe's inspiration by the Bible and notably the Douay-Rheims Bible is clear from his excessive use of the Latin phrases like the Catholic phrase 'rest in peace' translated to Latin "in pace requiescat" (189) and Montressor's motto "nemo me impune lacessit" (187). This particular form of punishment is common in the

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Christian religion despite the fact that there are few documents that recorded it. One famous example is recorded in Evening Post (October 7th, 1869 ) in which a nun, named Barbara Abryk, survived a horrible experience of being immured alive in a convent in Cracow. This practice presents a traditional form of punishment for nuns who break their vows. It is claimed in Evening Post that "the father confessor of the cloister ventured to say that the immuring of the nun had been known by the church authorities". There are some literary works that record the immurement of nuns as the dark, evil side of the religious institution and which intensifies the fear of premature burial. Sir Walter Scott's Marmion (1808), which is one of the most influential works for Poe, provides an example of immurement in Coldingham Abbey where a skeleton of a female is found. He insists on the validity of immurement in the history of Christianity, affirming that "the religious, who broke their vows of chastity" were punished by being immured in the convent's wall with a small portion of food and water (288).

In "Berenice", "Morella" and "Ligeia", Poe continues the same strategy of describing female victims of premature burial, enhancing the horror of the public. As it would be further discussed in this chapter, this recurrent image is generally referred to, by many critics, in relation to the biography of Poe as a tormented author and to some gender issues of the American society during that era. However, the same idea can be also related to the myth of the buried infant in Pre-Islamic Arab nations since Poe is identified by his biographers as one of few authors who were interested in the Arabic civilization and particularly, as Betsy Erkkila mentions in her essay "The Poetics of Whiteness: Poe and the Racial Imaginary", " in "the Arabians" as figures of romantic apartness and otherworldliness" (48). The fear of premature burial presented a widely known phenomenon that invaded the mind of every pregnant wife since there was a tradition of burying unwanted newborn females alive, considering them as a source of shame and disgrace. This practice was indicated in the Quran

4 It is translated according to Maulana Muhammed Ali in his book English Translation of the Holy Quran: With Explanatory Notes as " And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked, For what sin she was killed" (757).

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in Sura At Takwir (The Overthrowing Chapter) " 9 ?ÊóáöÊõÞ òÈ??äóÐ øöíóÇöÈ 8 ?ÊóáöÆõÓ õ?óÏ? Á?æóã?áÇ ÇóÐöÇ óæ" (81:8 - 81:9)4. Hence, Poe succeeds to show a multiple dimension of the terror of premature burial, intensifying further the public horror, by documenting in details all possible forms of their constant threat.

Despite the multifaceted presentation of taphephobia, all Poe's tales share the historical presentation of the phenomenon. He used historically valid stories about premature burial, particularly in his "The Premature Burial", to add credibility as well as to spread horror among readers. The examples provided by Poe include well respected aristocratic families (The Congressman's case), stories that override the boundaries of United States to reach France and England ( the case of Edward Stapleton) and other examples taken from sources "of high authority and merit" (CTP 254). Poe's tales can be considered as historical documents in the form of literature that record the obsessive fear of the 19th C Americans who were overwhelmed by stories of real accidents of premature burials that escalate their horror. The headlines of the famous, ubiquitous newspapers present the fuel of people's taphephobia. They all share stories of corpses found with "face[s] contorted into an agonized expression, the arms were drawn up as far as the coffin would admit, and the head was twisted round to the shoulders [...]" (New York Times, 5 January 1874).

Thus, Poe's tales are no longer only gothic stories about taphephobia, but also historical documents that record a wide spread phenomenon with social, medical and religious details. Poe's tales constitute a multifaceted study that includes different literary and non literary fields to satisfy readers' different tastes. Hence, taphephobia, as a motif under study, could not be easily interpreted and analyzed without finding and following the traces of other

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literary and non-literary works used by the author to validate the horrific dimension of the phobia and how it was a common, widespread fear in America during the 19th C.

Poe builds his works, utilizing basic elements from the classical works of the iconic gothic writers like Horace Walpole, Matthew Gregory Lewis and Ann Radcliffe. However, he transcended these elements by choosing to relate a particular social and medical phenomenon like taphephobia to non literary contexts; notably the philosophical, historical, medical and religious disciplines. This unorthodox choice constitutes what is called Poe's aesthetic theory.

1. Taphephobia: : The Essence of Poe's Definition of Sublime:

Poe's aesthetic theory of gothic literature was not separated from the iconic gothic works. He rather refashions the basic elements of the 18th Century stories, using the same concepts of gloom, darkness, decay and exaggerated emotions. He revisited the concepts of horror and terror that form the basis of his gothic tales. The two concepts present a source of confusion among writers and critics. But, Ann Radcliffe presents the first writer to distinguish between the two concepts in her essay "On the Supernatural in Poetry", in which she refers to Edmund Burke's concept of Sublime and uses Shakespearian plays as examples. She defines the two concepts as "Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them [...]" (6). Radcliffe compares between her literary style and the one of Mathew Lewis, to stress on the idea that the distinction between terror and horror is a differentiation between a gothic style that depends on the power of imagination and other that focuses mainly on the atrocities of the actual physical contact with the source of fear. Hence, terror presents the primary cause and the secret ingredient behind the realization of sublime since it creates the mysterious, abstract atmosphere of awe and suspense. Relying on Radcliffe's distinction between the two concepts, Poe's tales can be categorized into two groups: tales of terror and tales of horror. Poe relies on both schools and uses the analytic

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description of the horrors of the act of premature burial like in his tale "Berenice", concentrating primarily on the physical mutilation of Berenice's body through the act of taking off her teeth. However, in the other tales like "Morella", "Ligeia", "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Cask of Amontillado", Poe creates suspense, depending on the concept of terror by describing all the necessary circumstances that drive the reader to anticipate the coming horror of act of premature burial, enhancing the power of imagination that activates the morbid fear. Yet, "The Premature Burial" presents a mixture of both terror and horror since Poe describes in details the psychological horror experienced by the narrator, but the fact that the narrator discovers that the whole experience is just a nightmare suggests that Poe relies on the power of imagination of the reader to create a context of suspense and trepidation. Thus, taphephobia may be referred to as an example of terror, a result of tormented psyche and an uncontrollable threat created by the human imagination, while the genuine act of premature burial, described in details throughout the six tales, may be defined as horror, or the concrete, physical shape of the threat.

The originality of Poe's style lies in his stress on the psychology of characters, showing that the real terror comes from inside the character and not from external factors. Hence, Poe provides a new type of terror originated from neurotic cases of megalomania, paranoia, monomania, delusions and inexplicable obsessions. The choice of taphephobia presents a result of what Poe believes to be the sublime. The concept of the sublime is generally related to the gothic context and to Edmund Burke in particular. However, this term dates back to the first Century and notably to the Greek literary critic and rhetorician Longinus. Longinus's definition of the sublime is placed within the frame work of rhetoric, referring to the reader's experience of pleasure and ecstasy originated from the power of language. Longinus's ideas presented a starting point for Burke to build his own theory of the sublime. Believing that Longinus's ideas were not developed enough, Burke states in the

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Preface of his book A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) that "in his incomparable discourse upon a part of this subject, [Longinus] has comprehended things extremely repugnant to each other, under one common name of the sublime". He builds a definition of the sublime as the experience of terror and amazement, outlining the concept as "whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger" (34). It is what may be referred to as the enjoyable pain. It is the experience of being under an enduring state of fear.

Poe shares the same Burkean belief in physical and psychological pain, fear and danger as sources of an enjoyable experience and that the classical belief in beauty as the major source of aestheticism and sublime is no longer convenient. However, ugliness, the dark, gloomy and grotesque elements are the source of sublime. Accordingly, the use of taphephobia presents a strategic choice to convey Poe's theory of Gothicism since it conveys, pain, confinement, terror, darkness, and silence, which are all components of the sublime. The basis of taphephobia originates from Poe's belief in Burke's theory that the sublime in general and fear in particular block the mind and stop its ability to think logically. Poe reflects the same idea through the use of taphephobia as an example of a morbid fear that creates a state of panic and inability to react or to reason. The example of the narrator in "The Premature Burial" shows the effect of the sublime on the victim's reactions and obsessive, unreasonable precautions. However, this effect is not exclusive to the narrator. Poe's style in this particular story destroys the rigid boundaries between the reader and the fictional narrator in order to show that taphephobia is not a simple motif in a fictitious narrative, but rather a social phenomenon presented and studied in a literary form. In "Communities of Death: Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe and the Nineteenth Century American Culture of Mourning and Memorizing", Adam C. Bradford claims that Poe's strategic use of the plural pronoun "we" in "The Premature Burial" in addition to his enumeration of different cases of hasty burials

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present a stylistic tool to internalize the pain, darkness, confinement, horror and sublime in the reader and narrator, forming from the two parts one entity (90 - 93).

Throughout the six tales, Poe's descriptive style serves as a stimulus to create the sublime effect and to internalize the horror. His unique style consists of an analytic, detailed description of characters, settings and situations that can form a general portrait or a complete picture in the reader's mind. It refers to what Frederick L. Burwick calls in his article " Edgar Allan Poe: The Sublime, the Picturesque, the Grotesque, and the Arabesque", "the act of visual appropriation" (American Studies 427). The detailed description of the characters' physical and psychological agony creates a nightmarish picture of what the victim may feel and hence, the process of reading becomes a real life experience. This stylistic strategy and its effect serve Poe's aim of choosing taphephobia as a motif; to reflect the phenomenon as it is and to present the obsessive fear of the mass that led to the creation of a new lifestyle dominated by fear and characterized by exaggerated use of precautions, inspiring people to innovate radical solutions to stop the phenomenon. "The Premature Burial" presents one example of Poe's analytic, life like description of the narrator's physical and psychological horror when he realized that he is mistakenly buried after a cataleptic trance

I endeavored to shriek ; and my lips and my parched tongue moved

convulsively together in the attempt - but no voice issued from the cavernous lungs, which, oppressed as if by the weight of some incumbent mountain, gasped and palpitated with the heart, at every elaborate and struggling inspiration.

The movement of the jaws, in this effort to cry aloud, showed me that they were bound up, as is usual with the dead. I felt, too, that I lay upon some hard substance, and by something similar my sides were, also, closely compressed. So far, I had not ventured to stir any of my limbs -- but now I violently threw

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up my arms, which had been lying at length, with the wrists crossed. They struck a solid wooden substance, which extended above my person at an elevation of not more than six inches from my face. I could no longer doubt that I reposed within a coffin at last. (CTP 260)

The example quoted above presents an illustration of Poe's style of description, characterized by a mixture of mysterious gothic content and romantic style of description at the level of symbolic language and the focus on the character's subconscious emotions and phobias. This style aims to concretize the description, melting the boundaries between fiction and reality and helping to intensify the phobia that overwhelms the public. Hence, the personal experience of the narrator becomes a shared experience with a shared horror. Poe adopts this particular style of description, presenting a feature of dark romanticism, in order to transcend the norms of classical Gothicism based upon the external darkness and the gloom of the environment and to focus on the human soul as both the source and victim of the horror. Poe's style helps to create a space between reality and fiction where the notions of reason and madness, objectivity of the reader and the subjectivity of the narrator are deconstructed and where the effect of verisimilitude is realized and the horror is intensified .

In addition to the stylistic strategy used to highlight taphephobia and to create the sublime effect, Poe chooses another strategy based upon his perception of the sublime. Out of six tales, four tales share the same concept of horror, which is the physical act of premature burial of female characters. Berenice, Morella, Ligeia and Madeleine Usher are all examples of beautiful victims of the hasty burials exercised by male characters. Poe's choice is not arbitrary regarding his belief that the source of sublime is the death of a beautiful lady. In his essay "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846), Poe states that " the death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world, and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover" (5). He believes that the

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sublime presents an unusual mélange of beauty and horror. Poe subverts the Romantic, idealistic image of women as sources of love and innocence, to become in his perception of gothic literature, sources of the uncanny and horror. Observing the female characters previously referred to, Poe uses the same techniques to present them to the reader. They all share the mysterious identity with no enough detailed description. They share the mixture of fatale beauty and the enigmatic identity, tenderness and aggressiveness. Hence, female characters present the source of suspense, darkness, gloom and horror. Following Poe's statement, previously quoted, the act of premature burial exercised upon the female characters presents the peak of the sublime. Repressing the female body into a confined, dark coffin, to experience an unbearable psychological agony presents an example of the ultimate horror that affects male characters. The consequence of such an event did not stop at the level of the description of the subconscious agony of the victims. However, in all the four tales, the horror of a potential premature internment extends to reach the male characters who lived in a state of mental imbalance that led to madness. Thus, Poe chooses the female figure to represent the eeriness of male characters and the act of premature internment as an act of repressing the horror originated from them. Yet, Poe's choice of female characters as source of sublime is not based solely upon literary basis, but it is rather a reflection of both his tormented life and his era.

1.1. Representation of Female Characters: A Glimpse into Poe's Biography and


Poe's fascination with the motif of death of a beautiful woman is not restricted to the tales under study. It is rather a common recurrent motif throughout the different writings of Poe, either in poetry (for example, "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee") or fiction. However, the particularity of these tales lies in the presentation of female characters in a midway state between death and life, reduced in the act of premature burial. Ligeia, Morella, Berenice and

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Madeline Usher present all different faces of the same story and the same fate. All of them share the image of a typical young and beautiful lady, being a victim of a sudden, mysterious illness that leads to her apparent death and hence to her premature burial. This recurrent presentation of female characters presents a revisited true story, related to Poe's biography.

In the process of describing female characters' last moments in their deathbed, and notably in the case of Ligeia and Morella, Poe did not present the death scene as a moment of peaceful, sad farewell, he rather stresses on the agonizing moments and their ceaseless conflict to defeat death. This particular detailed depiction may be related to Poe's personal experience with death. Poe uses the "I" narrator as a strategic choice to revive his personal experience with the mysterious death of his young wife Virginia Clemm, who was like Ligeia and Morella, kidnapped by the angel of death in an early age. Hence, the fictional stories of Ligeia and Morella, in particular, goes in parallel with Poe's biography. Poe attempts to ponder the last image of his dying wife, engraved in his tormented memory. Yet, the return of the female characters from death and their successful survival from the grave presents his subconscious wish to see his wife again, succeeding to overcome illness and death. Thus, the fictional stories presents for Poe an outlet for his deep repressed sadness.

Female representation in Poe's tales is not related solely to his own biography, it is also related to a whole culture that characterized the United States during the 19th C. Throughout the six tales, Poe portrayed his female characters in relation to their male counterpart so that the analysis of one of them necessitates the presence of the other. Poe's female characters are presented as both classical and unorthodox. Berenice and Madeline Usher present examples of classical women who embody the characteristics of an "Angel in the House". Portraying Berenice, Poe stresses her beauty and innocence, following the same classical portrayal. The powerlessness and submissiveness of Berenice and Madeline are

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further accentuated through the act of premature burial, which can be explained as an execution of male power within the world of American patriarchy.

However, Poe presents another side of female representation through the characters of Ligeia and Morella. Portraying these two characters, Poe starts with the same classical image of women as weak and fragile. According to Leland S. Person, in his essay "Poe and Nineteenth Century Gender Construction", the female characters are classical at the level of being trapped in the domestic sphere that is controlled mainly by the male figure (134). However, the same image is used to subvert the classical notion of womanhood since Ligeia and Morella do not embody the submissiveness of the 19th C American women who were reduced to objects to be controlled and means to fulfill the male's desires. They are rather highly intellectual women who were empowered by their knowledge of mystical and forbidden sciences. The deathbed scenes of both Ligeia and Morella present very symbolic scenes of the female/male relationship. The female characters in both scenes present the dominant figures who control the dialogue and try to find solace, while the male characters act passively. This shift on the gender roles of both characters show how the relationship between them becomes a constant battle for dominance and authority. Hence, the act of premature burial can be explained as an act of championing the traditional patriarchal view or as Sandra Gilbert and Suzan Gubar state in their book The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination (1979) " a paradigmatic [...] of the plight of the woman in patriarchal culture" (94).

Poe's choice of taphephobia presents a planned choice that serves his perception of gothic literature and notably his re-defined concept of the sublime, a concept created by Longinus and developed by Edmund Burke. Poe revisited the same concept trying to adjust the term according to his revolutionary vision of the horror, which consists of a psychological horror originated from the human subconscious and a new definition of the beauty as a major

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component of the sublime. Thus, he deconstructs the mythical Romantic image of the beautiful female characters as the source of love, delicacy and courtship. Poe builds a revolutionary image of both female and male characters, showing that women in 19th C can be highly intellectual and competitive. By portraying female characters as a threat to the patriarchal dominance, Poe shows that the act of premature burial that presents the worst nightmare of the 19th C Americans is a manifestation of male's schizophrenic character, being apparently gentleman, but in their deep personality, they are fierce people who aim to assuage the hunger of their manhood by repressing the female body. Poe's presentation of the motif is also in a unique form, within a world of intermingled disciplines of literature, medicine, history and religion.

2. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: An Encyclopedic World of Literature:

As has been mentioned in the first chapter, studying a literary text from a new historicist perspective necessitates a study of the different literary and non literary sources that inspire the author, following the new historicist belief in the dialogic aspect of literature and other discourses (historical, cultural, religious, medical...). Poe's presentation of taphephobia as a recurrent motif in six tales shows his artistic abilities to strike out the phenomenon from its folkloric roots and to locate it in literary, medical and historical contexts. He highlights taphephobia using the technique of intertextuality at three levels: First, at the level of the choice of the motif itself. Second, at the level of epigraphs, chosen carefully to convey his aim and finally, at the level of characters' names and description.

2.1. The Choice of Taphephobia:

Poe was faithful to his reputation as an unconventional gothic author when he chose taphephobia as a recurrent motif. He does not use exaggerated supernatural elements to intensify the horror; he rather uses a common, psychological phenomenon, known by Americans of the 19th C. He takes advantage of people's fears and nightmares to internalize

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the horror of his tales. He simply mirrors what happened during his era. But, instead of using concrete, physical elements as a source of horror, he utilizes an abstract element, an idea, a fear, an obsession, a phobia. He uses the psychological horror that originates and effects the human mind . Taphephobia presents an example of obsessions that can lead to tragedies. This is what happens in the six tales under study. These tales share the analytic description of an obsessed character who is either the victim or the cause of premature burial.

In "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Ligeia", "Berenice" , "Morella" and "The Cask of Amontillado", Poe tries to show the common sufferings experienced by characters focusing mainly on the psychological and mental pain more than the physical pain. He shows how the boundaries between life and death are fragile and even invisible. Despite the different presentations of the motif, all tales share the same descriptive style that serves to highlight the phenomenon. There is a common focus on exaggerated emotions of sadness, pain, agony, and panic, in an attempt to intensify the horror and to guarantee the effect of the sublime. The descriptive style in these tales consists of presenting a minute description of the grotesque scenes of the characters' minds, overwhelmed by the obsessive fear of premature burial. This description provides the reader with a clear image of the characters' mindset, deprived of any reason or logic and totally blinded by the horror they lived within. Poe did not present taphephobia as an isolated motif that realizes solely the sublime effect. However, he uses the different components of a narrative in order to realize that effect and to emphasize the motif. Setting, characters and the unified, plausible plot present secret tools used by Poe to highlight taphephobia. He fuses the picturesque description of the human mind under a constant fear or threat along with the use of symbols ( e.g. the setting in "The Fall of the House of Usher") and highly hyperbolic presentation of emotions to create a non classical, grotesque version of the sublime.

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In "The Premature Burial", Poe widens his scope and extends his presentation of taphephobia as a psychological horror that invades the human mind. He chooses to start with facts rather than fiction by using real life stories of people who were mistakenly buried alive. He lists a number of real cases of premature internment around the globe, as a way to transcend the aesthetic adaptation of the motif, by showing its historical and social validity. Poe uses the plural pronoun "we", involving the reader into a developing experience of horror and distress. The reader's emotions and reactions during the reading process present a natural response to a literary adaptation of a familiar phenomenon and to the author's use of anonymous narrator, using instead the plural pronoun "we" which drives the reader to identify himself with the narrator, facing as well the fictional realization of his worst nightmare. The detailed description of the narrator's phobia and daily precautions, notably his safety coffin prepared exclusively for him, drives the reader to reach catharsis, identifying himself with the narrator, living the same agony and experiencing the same fear. However, by the end of the story, Poe chooses satire as the adopted strategy. He uses an unexpectable ending, showing that the whole experience of premature burial, which was described throughout the tale, was just an illusion, originated from an obsessed, neurotic mind since the narrator was laying in a narrow, coffin-like ship berth. With this ending, the reader experiences the same relief as the narrator. Thus, "The Premature Burial" presents an example of tales that transcends the boundaries between fiction and reality, showing taphephobia as a common wide spread phenomenon. This unique style of detailed, analytic description of the mental anguish rather than the cause behind this trepidation is claimed, by critics, to be inspired from a Victorian landmark in the history of British literature in general and Gothicism in particular which is Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Poe's fascination with this magazine lies in the fact that he found in it the basic principles of what is called "psychological horror" since its stories are about contemporary societal issues, portraying in detailed description the inner agony of

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neurotic characters. Michael Allen describes in his book Poe and the British Magazine Tradition (1969) that the "Blackwood's pattern" presents the major factor behind Poe's own, unique style of gothic stories. He states that it "incorporated the curious and esoteric learning which was the feature of the more respectable older miscellanies like the Gentleman's; but it fused these elements into a more relaxed, personal, and intimate ethos which permitted the inclusion of more blatant sensationalism, literary gossip, and fiction for the less erudite reader" (23).

Poe's choice of taphephobia as a literary motif presents a redefinition of the aesthetic taste of the elite and a revolution against the artistic and literary norms of the era. This spirit is actually inspired from previous authors like John Galt (1779- 1839) whose story "The Buried Alive" (1821) presents an example of Blackwood's stories and Poe's major source of inspiration to tackle the motif of taphephobia. This story shares the same plot as Poe's "The Premature Burial" dealing with, as Andrew Mangham expressed in his essay "Buried Alive: Gothic Awakening of Taphephobia", "a conflict between wakefulness of the mind and slumbers of the body" (13). Galt's story shares the same gloomy description of a neurotic human mind that suffers from a constant threat of being prematurely buried. Poe was inspired to show how ugliness is the source of aesthetic beauty and to highlight another function of literature that records the history of a particular society. Besides, Poe records one of the characteristics of 19th C America which is the rise of the industry of safety coffins through a detailed description of these coffins in one of his tales "The Premature Burial", stating that

There were arrangements also for the free admission of air and light, and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. This coffin was warmly and softly padded, and was provided with a lid, fashioned upon the principle of the vault-door, with the addition of springs so contrived that the feeblest movement of the body would

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be sufficient to set it at liberty. Besides all this, there was suspended from the roof of the tomb, a large bell, the rope of which, it was designed, should extend through a hole in the coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the corpse. (CTP 259)

This detailed description echoes one of the famous notes, that accompanies Seba Smith's poem "The Life-Preserving Coffin". In his article entitled "A Source of Poe's 'The Premature Burial'", W.T. Bandy studies extensively "the numerous verbal parallels" between Poe's description of the several precautions held by the taphephobic protagonist and the note that describes in details the safety coffin, one of the most common precautions in 19th C (American Literature 168). Poe's unusual mélange between science and literature, with a detailed medical diagnosis within a literary, fictional context of short story is one of the key characteristics behind the success of his tales. But this aspect is adapted out of Poe's fascination with the Blackwood's style and content and notably Samuel Warren's "Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician" (1832 -1837) and Daniel Keyte Sandford's "A Night in the Catacombs" (1818).

In "The Cask of Amontillado", Poe reflects the psychological phenomenon and internalizes the reader's horror by presenting a different form of terrifying act of premature burial. Poe chooses to show one of the common practices in antiquity which has political and religious connotations. He deals with the immurement of Fortunato by Montresor in a context of revenge. However, Poe uses the same technique that creates the effect of verisimilitude like in "The Premature Burial". The tale starts with a narrator speaking to an unknown receiver, a style similar to a personal diary or a confession. Then, the suspense grows as the relationship between the narrator and Fortunato is revealed. The journey into the catacombs presents the peak of suspense since the narrator starts to give hints about its aim and its relation with the nature of the setting and the end of Fortunato. The setting is used once again as a major

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component of the sublime and as a hint about the nature of revenge. The setting is the catacombs of the Montresors, a place characterized by darkness, gloom and death. It is a place that denotes vaults and grave. Poe's description of the setting is detailed enough to enable the reader to create a portrait of the setting, similar to a narrow and suffocating grave and an image of the whole journey. He focuses on the physical aspects that stress the dark aspect of the setting, reminding the reader of the bloody and painful aspect of the tragedy and emphasizing the suffocating nature of the phobia. This is further conveyed through his use of the lexical items that denote death like "human remains" and " bones". But, Poe's description of the gloomy place is mixed with a satirical tone, particularly when he refers to its elegance and sophistication, claiming that the place is "in the fashion of the great catacombs of Paris" (CTP 188). In addition, Poe presents the walling up process, describing in parallel the agony of the victim Fortunato and the growing malaise of Montresor as he is subconsciously affected by the horror of his deeds. Montresor's claim that catacombs present a source of unbearable malaise, with a stifling sensation may be explained as a result of executing a premature burial, sharing same feelings as a claustrophobic, and in deeper extent, a taphephobic. This double version of description serves as a tool to intensify the suspense, creating a growing tenseness as the wall grows brick by brick.

While some critics relied on psychoanalysis to decode the symbolism of the immurement, stating that Montresor buried his reflected self since there is an identification at the level of characters' names and nature, other critics find out that the type of punishment used can have a religious dimension, since it may presents a holy war between Catholicism and the Masonic, anti religious groups. The choice of immurement serves the illusion that its events happened in the Middle Ages and this particular characteristic is not solely of Poe. It is shared by other 19th C authors. Poe's presentation of taphephobia reflects his remarkable fascination with Sir Walter Scott since he shares the same plot of his epic poem Marmion

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(1808) which deals with the punishment of Constance who was walled alive in the convent of St Hilda. Besides, Poe's choice of taphephobia as a recurrent motif in his tales can be traced back to his inspiration with Charles Robert Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), Edward Bulwer Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and Wilkie Collins' Jezabel's Daughter (1880). Furthermore, an attentive reader of "The Cask of Amontillado" would notice its striking resemblance with Joel. T. Headley's "A Man Built in the Wall" (1844). Poe recreates the same plot as well as same characters and the general gothic atmosphere of walling up an enemy alive in a church in Italy.

As has been mentioned, one of the reasons behind Poe's uniqueness in gothic literature lies in his wide knowledge of world literature. In addition to his inspiration from other canonic literature, there are many authors whose names are related directly or indirectly to Poe's works. One of these artists is the French Realist author Honoré De Balzac (1799-1850). The plot of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" shares the same plot of Balzac's novel La Grande Bretêche (1831). Both works share the story of revenge and both authors choose the immurement as the appropriate way to create the gothic and mysterious atmosphere of the story. Poe and Balzac choose to show one aspect of 19th C society and this highlights the idea that the terror, originated from the act of premature burial presents an omnipresent obsession of the 19th C American and western people, producing a mass horror and panic, under the name of taphephobia. Poe's fascination with Balzac's writing style is recorded in many biographies and by many critics. In his book Influences Françaises dans L'oeuvre d'Edgar Poe5 (1929), Régis Messac states that many of Poe's protagonists, motifs and themes are clearly inspired from Balzac's works, showing some examples of parallelism between Poe's gothic works and Balzac's writings (51). Furthermore, Poe's strategy to internalize the horror through the multiple representation of the terror, manifested in premature burial, echoes some

5 It is translated as French Influences in the work of Edgar Poe

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similar stories in non-English literature, notably Greek and Arabic literature. Premature internment as a form of punishment that characterizes Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" mirrors a familiar plot in two famous Greek tragedies which are Prometheus Bound and Sophocles' Antigone which present premature internment as a punishment for both Prometheus and Antigone, adding a cathartic effect on the readers.

In addition, Poe shows throughout his tales different forms of the direct cause of taphephobia, premature burial, to guarantee the horrific effect on readers by reflecting their worst nightmares, creating an illusion of reality or what is called verisimilitude. The detailed portrayal of premature burial presents a way adapted by Poe to concretize the reader's obsession, trying to picturize the public phobia with the description of the character's experience. He reflects not only the Western literature but also the Eastern one through One Thousand and One Nights, which is a collection of folkloric tales, and notably "The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor" in which the protagonist is buried alive along with his dead wife as a part of the village's traditions of death. The inspiration with the Eastern literature emphasizes the global nature of the phenomenon, which serves to show that taphephobia was not only present in the minds of 19th C Americans but also presents the phobia of the antiquity and can be the phobia of the future generation.

2.2. The Use of Epigraphs : Another Strategy to Highlight the Universality of Poe's Tales:

In order to highlight taphephobia as the defining phenomenon of the era, Poe uses different strategies of intertextuality. One of these strategies is the use of epigraphs, quoting from iconic books to convey a particular theme or to highlight a motif. Poe uses epigraphs in four tales namely; "Ligeia", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Morella" and "Berenice". Through these epigraphs, Poe succeeds to build the general atmosphere of the tale, to set the

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major conflict in the story and to accentuate the effect of taphephobia on both the victim and the other characters.

Unlike the other tales under study, "Ligeia" differs at the level of the representation of the source of taphephobia, which is premature burial and its effect of internalizing the phobia on the reader. In order to illustrate this atmosphere and as a possible way to show the main conflict of the story, Poe uses an epigraph from Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680), a 17th C English poet. Despite the fact that critics did not find the original source of the lines used stating that Poe himself created these lines, the choice of the poet is significant since Glanvill is known for his book Saducismus Triumphatus (1681) that affirms the existence of witchcraft and the supernatural, which serves the general atmosphere of the tale. Poe chooses few lines that serve as a synopsis of the tale, presenting mainly the conflict between a strong will and the weakness of the human soul. Ligeia and Lady Rowena present the two sides of the human self, showing that Ligeia's strong will overcomes the fact that she was buried alive while Lady Rowena's death was not mainly because of the poison but rather because of her surrender. Besides, the epigraph is repeated by Ligeia in her death bed to show that with her strong will, she can survive the inevitable "Conqueror", showing that death is not the ultimate end of the human being. The epigraph shows the fragile boundaries between death and life through the representation of death, not as an inevitable reality, but rather as an enemy that can be conquered through the strong will. This battle between death and innate love for life presents the concretization of the essence of the taphephobic who is under a constant psychological war between his fear of premature death and his love for life.

From the beginning of the tale, Poe accentuates the mysterious and gloomy aura of the setting and the character of Lady Ligeia. The protagonist Ligeia and who is supposedly later to be buried alive is presented from the start as a surreal woman characterized by her excessive love for the forbidden knowledge. Poe uses unusual metaphors to describe the lady.

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He presents her almost as a shadow; instead of using Romantic metaphors, focusing on her physical beauty and her tenderness, Poe chooses to present Ligeia from the beginning in a mysterious and gothic way, focusing on her language and behavior. She is presented as a mixture of ultimate beauty and gloomy, dark personality "the character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid cast of beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low musical language, made their way into my heart" (CTP 94). This portrayal of the major character paves the way for the representation of taphephobia and for the guaranteed sublime effect.

In "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Morella", epigraphs serve another function in relation to the motif of taphephobia. In both tales, Poe mirrors taphephobia of the 19th C American society through presenting the horrors of the act of premature burial and its effects on both the victim and the other characters. In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe did not actually focus on the psychological agony of the victim Madeleine Usher. He rather portrays in details Roderick Usher's dilemma after burying his sister alive. Poe uses some other elements of the tale to reflect Roderick's tormented mind especially after the premature burial of his sister. Poe uses the house as a mirror of Roderick Usher's mind. It is presented from the beginning of the tale as a decayed setting, reflecting the neurotic state of the Roderick Usher. By the end of the story, the house collapses simultaneously with the mental breakdown of the character, seeing his sister's survival from the premature burial. Poe uses a picturesque technique of description using a concrete, physical representation of the psychological abstract world of characters.

In order to show the destructive psychological effect of taphephobia on both the victim and the doer of the premature internment, Poe refers to French literature and Greek philosophy to quote for his epigraphs in both "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Morella". He refers to his contemporary French poet and songwriter Pierre-Jean De Béranger (1780-

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1857) and particularly to his poem «Le Refus» (the refusal) to highlight the loneliness and the psychological and emotional imbalance which leads to the tragic end of Madeline Usher by burying her alive. Using the same technique, Poe refers to Plato, the father of Greek philosophy, quoting from his book Symposium to foreshadow that despite the fact that Morella was buried alive, her identity was personified in the character of her daughter.

In "Morella", Poe focuses on the husband's torments, seeing his daughter's striking resemblance to her mother and on his predictable madness, discovering his wife's tomb empty and presuming that she was back from death after burying her alive. Poe presents Morella, following the same pattern as Ligeia. She is as well a non classical, mysterious lady who is characterized by her love of "mystical writings". In this tale, Poe focuses on the husband's agony resulted from the death and return of his wife rather than on the protagonist herself. Like in "Ligeia", the horror of premature burial is presented indirectly, allowing the reader to interpret the return of the female character either as a resurrection or as a survival from a premature burial. Poe uses same components, provided throughout the six tales to highlight taphephobia. He uses a composition of love and neurosis to create the ultimate effect of the sublime.

In "Berenice", Poe deals with a monomaniac narrator who disfigured the body of his cousin and fiancé Berenice, who was mistakenly buried alive, by ripping out her teeth. The narrator visits and violates the tomb and this scene was predicted in the epigraph. The choice of the epigraph is not whimsical. It gives hints about the general theme of the tale. Poe uses a verse by Ebn Zaiat. In "The Epigraph of Poe's 'Berenice'", Michael Beard states that Ebn Zaiat is not known as a poet and that his real identity is mysterious; he is listed as " an Arab biographer, though in fact he was a political figure and occasional poet, a wazir under the Abassid khalif Mu'tasim" (611). Poe's use of the Latin quote "Dicebant mihi sodales, si

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sepulchrum amicae visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum forelevatas"6 is explained in relation to the narrator's visit to Berenice's tomb. According to Joan Dayan, in her essay "The Identity of Berenice, Poe's Idol of the Mind", the epigraph presents Berenice as the beloved and foreshadows her resurrection from the premature internment (494). Poe uses the classical structure of plot consisting of exposition, rising actions, climax, falling actions and denouement, showing the conflict between Egaeus and his neurotic self. The denouement of the story presents at the same time the end of suspense for the reader and the end of Egaeus' troubles of his tormented self since, as it is referred to in the epigraph, he discovers the reality of Berenice's death by re-visiting her tomb.

2.3. Characters' Names : A Well Studied Choice :

Poe reflects his theory of sublime through his descriptive style, adapting certain elements as omnipresent in all his tales. There is a common use of fatale beauty of female characters, the mixture of imagination and reality, the focus on neurosis and the intermingled concepts of death and life. However, Poe adds another technique to intensify the sublime. Throughout the six tales, there is a use of unusual names of characters and a reference to a particular set of books that may reflect their inner portrait. Poe's choice of names is not arbitrary. It serves the general portrait of characters, adding the mysterious and dark dimension and it conveys the motif of taphephobia. All characters' names have deep roots either in Christianity (as the origin of Protestantism, the defining religion of The United States) or in the different mythologies.

In his tale "Ligeia", Poe presents the protagonist as a perfect example of femme fatale with a poisonous beauty, characterized by mystery and danger and who actually drives the narrator insane, by being uncertain about the circumstances of her death. The mystery of Ligeia lies in her death and her re-appearance during Lady Rowena's last moments. Critics

6 "My companions said to me that my troubles would in some measure be relieved if I would visit the tomb of my sweetheart" (trans. Alterton and Craig).

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express the same puzzlement since her appearance can be explained in two different ways: either she was buried alive and survived from the grave or she is a lost soul seeking her revenge. However, the first probability seems to be more convincing especially when we discover by the end of the story that the body that stands in the middle of the apartment was Ligeia. In order to highlight the mystery of Ligeia and to prepare for a shocking end, Poe chooses a name that refers to one of the famous mythologies that is characterized by ambiguity, the myth of the Seirenes. Ligeia itself as a name is inspired from the Greek mythology about sirens who enchanted sailors with their beautiful voices to shipwreck on the coast and die. It is the same image of beauty and unknown end. Besides, Poe uses a large set of images (Nourjahad), angels (Azrael, Houri), places (Delos) and deities (Ashtophet) to describe her. Thus, the emphasis on Ligeia's perfection and ideality serves as a way to show her importance in the narrator's life and how her premature death drove him to madness.

Likewise, in his tale "Berenice", Poe's choice of characters' name is very significant. In his tale, Poe deals with a neurotic husband and a cataleptic wife. Unlike the other tales, Poe contrasts between the couple physically and psychologically stating that

Yet differently we grew - I, ill of health, and buried in gloom - she, agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; hers, the ramble on the hill-side - mine the studies of the cloister; I, living within my own heart, and addicted, body and soul, to the most intense and painful meditation - she, roaming carelessly through life, with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. (CTP 166)

Through this description, Berenice and Egaeus are presented as a physical manifestation of life and death. However, the energy of Berenice is soon extinguished because of catalepsy. Berenice's sudden illness can be a metaphor of a future defeat in front of the strong, infectious influence of Egaeus' gloomy milieu. Berenice's premature burial and her survival from near

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death experience and from the painful experience of uprooting her teeth can be related to the choice of the name. The name "Berenice" is known as a Protestant name, that occurred in the New Testament and particularly in King James version, twice in Act 25 (25:13 and 25:23) and once in Act 26 (26:30). According to Women in Scripture, edited by Carol Meyers and Toni Craven and Shepard Kraemer, Berenice, or "Bernice" as it is mentioned in the Bible, is the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the king who killed James son of Zebedee, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ (60). Despite the biblical connotation of the name, Berenice has Egyptian, Greek and Macedonian origins. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it means literally "bringer of victory". The victory that presents the essence of the name may refer to the victory of the character over death and her return from the tomb.

Poe uses a set of symbols as a part of his descriptive strategy to highlight one side of his character. For instance, he refers to a well chosen set of books' titles as a strategy to describe characters and to give some insights about their mental portrait and intellectual background. In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe chooses the library to be the physical manifestation of Roderick Usher's psyche. This symbol is used to help the reader to create a picture of the neurotic mind of the character in order to understand his future deeds and reactions. He presents Roderick Usher as a mysterious and even uncanny character. His reactions and utterances are usually ambiguous. For example, his indifferent reaction to his sister's illness and death is unpredictable and unusual. In order to highlight the uniqueness of Roderick Usher; Poe refers to a list of books in his library as a way to unveil the nature of his character and to prepare the grounds for the motif of taphephobia. Usher shows a fascination with the world of spirits and with the history of demonic possessions across nations and this can explain his reaction to his sister's apparent death and his insistence to be buried. Poe enumerates titles of ten books that share the controversial, mysterious and metaphysical nature. However, he states that Eymerich's Directorium Inquisitorum is the Roderick's

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favorite. This particular book is about the forbidden knowledge of witchcraft and black, demonic magic and it includes conjuring spirits. The titles of his books show his interest in the folkloric stories of vampires, spirits, necromancy and sorcery. These books and in particular Eymerich's book affect the character of Roderick, driving him to bury his sister alive as a part of his practice of the demonic rituals.

Poe chooses to convey his themes and ideas through an indirect way, based upon intertextuality, stressing the mystery and ambiguity of his horror tales. He refers to mythology, philosophy and to other Western literary works to convey the motif of taphephobia. His own perception of the concept Sublime drives him to innovate an exceptional descriptive style based upon the mixture of the basic elements of the Classical gothic literature of the 18th C with a detailed, analytic description of the characters' mindset, creating a full image of the abstract psyche. Thus, Poe's descriptive style aims to create a fuzzy atmosphere where the notions of fantasy and reality, rationalism and madness are intermingled. Yet, Poe did not study taphephobia in isolation from its original scientific and medical roots. He rather gathers the literary and medical fields in order to create a full scientific and artistic image of the phenomenon.

3. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: Taphephobia as a Medical Concept:

Critics usually refer to Poe's gothic tales as exclusive examples of a mixed literature and science. The scientific dimension of these tales lies first in Poe's descriptive style. In his book Studies in Classic American Literature, D. H. Lawrence refers to Poe's style as purely "mechanical" (69) where characters are reduced to microscopic objects to be analyzed and studied. He uses his tales as a laboratory to watch, observe, study and analyze the human mind under pressure, agony, and constant fear. Poe's objective style that seems to be similar to a medical report serves as a tool to create an apparent verisimilitude, transforming the fictional stories into an authentic reality; internalizing the horror and increasing the effect of

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the sublime. Second, Poe's scientific side lies in his overuse of medical concepts and logical explanations of different phenomena occurred in his tales.

Throughout the six tales under study, Poe uses his scientific knowledge to present taphephobia as a medical and psychological phenomenon rather than a folkloric superstitious fear of death. Poe relates taphephobia to other medical cases like monomania, epilepsy and catalepsy. Protagonists in "The Fall of the House of Usher", "The Premature Burial" and "Berenice" are cataleptic characters who suffer from a physical pain and a psychological, neurotic obsession of being all the time under the threat of being buried alive. Poe uses medical terms to describe rigorously the cataleptic trance, in an attempt to create an illusion of verisimilitude. "The Premature Burial" in particular presents a good example of tales that shows Poe's scientific and medical knowledge through his use of catalepsy and taphephobia in relation to his philosophical contemplative question of life and death. He provides the full diagnosis of catalepsy, focusing on the fact that it presents the borderline between life and death:

Sometimes the patient lies, for a day only, or even for a shorter period, in a species of exaggerated lethargy. He is senseless and externally motionless; but the pulsation of the heart is still faintly perceptible; some traces of warmth remain; a slight color lingers within the centre of the cheek; and, upon application of a mirror to the lips, we can detect a torpid, unequal, and vacillating action of the lungs. Then again the duration of the trance is for weeks - even for months; while the closest scrutiny, and the most rigorous medical tests, fail to establish any material distinction between the state of the sufferer and what we conceive of absolute death. (CTP 256)

This description shows Poe's strategy to create the reality effect through an objective style, detailed analysis of the phenomenon without any use of fictional supernatural elements

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of the 18th C gothic. This lengthy, detailed description mirrors a similar definition by the scientists William Tebb and Edward Vollum who expressed in their book Premature Burial and How it may be Prevented (1905) that catalepsy is a nervous system disease associated with rigidity in muscles and limbs and with low pulsation which are symptoms that define death (59). Both definitions show the fragile boundaries between death and life, since a cataleptic person can be mistakenly considered dead and buried alive. Besides, Poe shows his scientific knowledge through his reference to the medical journals of the era like the German Chirurgical Journal of Leipsic which is presented in his tale "The Premature Burial" as "a periodical of high authority and merit, which some American bookseller would do well to translate and re-publish" (CTP 254). Poe's use of authentic medical journals in addition to his analytic description of catalepsy, one of the main reasons behind the occurrence of incidents of premature burial that caused a mass panic and obsessive fear during the 19th C, serve as a way to guarantee the horrific effect of the tale by inspiring from the era itself and from the society to internalize the horror. Furthermore, Poe echoes the psychological agony of the neurotic protagonist in "The Premature Burial", describing his "moral distress and infinitude" (CTP 257) and trying to ensure his friends' oaths to bury him after his decomposition and trying to provide every precaution possible to forbid his potential premature interment. Poe's description of the narrator reflects the modern definition of taphephobia and the essence of the phenomenon which is based essentially on the neurotic obsession that can affect the human body leading to physical pains. In the introduction to Enrico Morselli's "Dysmorphophobia and Taphephobia: Two Hitherto Undescribed Forms of Insanity with Fixed Ideas", Laurence Jerome refers to taphephobia as "a symptom of obsessive/ compulsive spectrum disorders characterized by constant doubting and questioning, and reassurance-seeking regarding the uncertainty surrounding death and the afterlife" (106).

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In "Berenice", Poe presented another medical concept related to the motif of taphephobia. The narrator presents an example of a monomaniac person who suffers from a neurotic obsession and fixation on some parts of the human body, and in this tale on Berenice's teeth. Poe shows two medical cases related to taphephobia; a monomaniac narrator and a cataleptic victim. He uses the medical mistake of burying Berenice without any

scientific verifications as a way to reflect the occurrence of these accidents and to intensify the phobia of the reader, giving a horrific description of the victim's agony "a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night [...] and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave - of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing, still palpitating, still alive!" (CTP 170). Berenice, presents a reflection of a neurotic character who becomes, due to her catalepsy, an object of a continuous phobia of being buried alive. However, her phobia is realized since she was actually prematurely buried, due to both the medical inability to distinguish between life and death and of her fiancé's monomania, which is defined by Poe as "a morbid irritability of those properties of the mind in metaphysical science termed the attentive" (166). Taphephobia in this particular tale is internalized twice : once through the detailed description of the premature burial, the worst nightmare of the taphephobic and second through the possibility of being disfigured alive causing physical and mental pains. The author introduces taphephobia throughout the tale, using hints about the nature of the relationship between Egaeus and Berenice. It is a relationship of a hunter and a prey; Berenice was not merely a cousin or a beloved fiancé, but rather a target to be reached in order to realize his mental peace or as Poe describes it "a theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation" (168). She was all the time under the threat of her mysterious illness and the threat of her obsessive cousin. Berenice's death was sudden and unlike the other tales, the author did not describe the circumstances of neither her death nor burial. However, he provides hints, consisting of description of a sad female voice mixed with woe

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and pain. This voice overwhelmed Egaeus' mind and rose the degree of suspense. This suspense is over by the end of the tale when the reader discovers how Egaeus disfigured Berenice's body in a trance and this leads the reader to question if Egaeus himself is responsible for her premature burial.

3.1. Edgar Allan Poe: An Artist with Scientific Mind:

As a contemporary of the 19th C, Poe witnesses the illnesses of the American society and studies in depth its interests, concerns and fears. He reflects, in details, their morbid fears and worst nightmares, with further medical explanations. Critics usually refers to Poe as an author who relies on his real life experiences and his society to create his gothic writings. Among these critics, Marie Bonaparte states in her book The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe: A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation (1933) that relying on Freud's theory, that considers literature as a physical manifestation of the author's psychology, dreams and fears, Poe cannot be an exception and that he, as well, mirrors his own psychology and the psychology of his society in his gothic works especially when he dealt with themes of death and premature burial (639).

Reading his biography, we can easily understand the personality of Poe as a traumatic author par excellence. Almost all fears and phobias presented in his writings are originated from his real life. Taphephobia in particular presents one example of the phobias that overwhelmed Poe's contemporaries. Despite the fact that there are no records that dealt with Poe's personal taphephobia, his relation with this phenomenon can be understood at three levels: at the level of his fear of death in general and its relation to his biography, at the level of his interests with the study of the human soul and at the level of his social context.

Death presents an omnipresent element in Poe's life. He was haunted by death from his early childhood till his adulthood. Starting with the death of his mother Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins and his young bride Virginia Clemm, Poe becomes obsessively afraid of death, felt

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that he is cursed by being deprived of his beloveds. This idea is illustrated in his writings in which there is a common theme of the death of beautiful women through different forms and in which there is a detailed portrayal of the psychological torments of characters. Besides, the choice of women as victims of the horror of premature burial mirrors Poe's psychological pain vis à vis the death of his mother and bride, imagining them as prematurely dead, kidnapped by the angel of death.

Furthermore, Poe's choice of taphephobia seems to be out of personal interest since, as Frances Winwar asserts in her book The Haunted Palace: A Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1959), his fascination with the human soul and with eternity is behind his growing interest to study the boundaries between life and death and the secrets of the afterlife (323). Thus, taphephobia presents for him, a perfect opportunity to be up to date by studying a recent social phenomenon and to analyze scientifically the borderline of death and life that taphephobia stands for.

However, the choice of taphephobia transcends the personal life of the author to reach his society and era. The depiction of taphephobia presents a reflection of the American society during Poe's life. It is the general atmosphere controlled by a morbid fear and a mass panic leading people to change their lifestyles and creating new ways to protect themselves from the possibility of being prematurely immured. The irrational behavior held by the narrator to protect himself, depicted by Poe in his tale "The Premature Burial", is a detailed life-like presentation of the appalling horror experienced by the 19thC Americans .

Poe highlights taphephobia by dealing with its primary cause which is the occurrence of premature burials. He creates a mixture of facts and phantasy by using an analytic,

scientific description with fictional characters, setting and events. He attempts to record a medical and historical event like taphephobia and to internalize further the mass horror by using samples of the American people, concretizing their psychological agony and their

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constant fear. Poe succeeds to make his tales transcend the literary sphere and to reach documentation. He uses medical explanation of the phenomenon, using medical journals, books and treatises as references. He succeeds to be both an artist and a scientist, trying, as D. H. Lawrence asserts in chapter 6 of his book Studies in Classical American Literature (1923), to " reduc[e] his own self as a scientist reduces a salt in a crucible" (48). Poe's study of taphephobia, using a particular descriptive style transcends its gothic, literary aspect and becomes a written documentary about a historical landmark of the 19th C United States.

4. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales: Concluding Notes:

Poe's tales present a subversion of all classical notions of beauty and aesthetics. He destroys the Romantic myth of female beauty by using it as a source of horror and builds a unique definition of aestheticism based upon grotesque, gloom, decay and horror. Poe adopts a particular descriptive style that serves his perception of the sublime. He uses narrative strategy based upon objectivity, by using a scientific, detailed analysis, and a common use of first person pronoun "T" and plural pronoun "we" to create an effect of verisimilitude , guaranteeing the sublime effect. Besides, unlike the 18thC gothic literature, Poe tries to create an illusion of reality by using real cases of premature burial, by a diary like style and notably by the remarkably exact analysis of the phenomenon.

Poe's basic feature lies in his creation of a world where medicine, history and literature are intermingled in one tale. He follows the same style of suspense in the classical gothic stories, relying on the nature of the human mind as a raw, undiscovered place, to be a source of mystery and horror. Poe uses fear as an inherent feeling in the human nature and develops it by using its extreme situations like taphephobia. Poe adopts the role of a scientist trying to examine different experiences exercised over the human mind with a preconscious belief that the real horror lies within the human psyche. Poe uses medicine as an active participator to show the horrific side of the experience of a panic attack caused by the obsessive, irrational

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fear of premature internment. He uses the scientific, factual explanation of the phenomenon in order to isolate it from its folkloric roots.

He succeeds to present a full diagnosis of taphephobia as a 19thC social illness, referring to the different mythologies that the phobia originates from within a literary fictional context. Poe's tales reflect the public trepidation that ravaged their peace of mind and how that phobia controlled their lifestyle, leading to obsessive thinking about the different solutions that may protect them from such horror. This exact reflection of the American society is related to Poe's own life which presents one of the major sources of inspiration for his choice of characters and his detailed description of the psychological agony of the victim. Poe presents more than an author of gothic literature, he is a witness of the losing confidence in the medical and scientific progress that set America at the top of the world and especially the losing faith in the Catholic canonic concepts of death and punishment that controlled the public thought during the 19th C.

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Chapter 3: Taphephobia in Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic Tales : A Reflection of 19th
Century United States' Worst Nightmares

Poe used many literary and non literary sources as a backbone of his multidimensional representation of taphephobia, conveying his aesthetic theory of sublime by entering the hidden, unconscious side of human psyche and reflecting victims' agony of being under the threat of premature internment. He fully diagnosed the human mind in an obsessive, uncontrollable state of fear, in which the human rationality is replaced by a compulsive need to reassure their survival from a premature burial. However, Poe did not restrict himself to the classical representation of a psychological phenomenon, but he rather transcends the boundaries of aestheticism and deals with taphephobia as a historical event that marked a particular age of the United States. Poe's aim from choosing taphephobia as a motif is to historicize his tales and to literalize the history through his parallel use of literary, fictional elements and historical documents as one of the constituting components of his representation of taphephobia. Thus, the boundaries between fiction and reality are vanished and the panic is further internalized.

1. The Use of "Anecdote": A Strategic Concept to Record the Phenomenon :

As has been referred to in the first chapter, the term anecdote presents a new historicist concept that refers to a revolutionary method adapted by the author to break the rigid boundaries between literature and history. It serves as a medium to achieve the author's aim to not be trapped in the literary sphere by having a free access to report the societal events that literature is unable to describe. The use of anecdotes presents a strategy to create the effect of verisimilitude since it presents the real version of the fictitious events of the literary work. Unlike his other tales, Poe chooses to present taphephobia in "The Premature Burial" from a more realistic perspective, by choosing anecdote as a strategy to internalize the public

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obsessive fear and to fuel the horror already spread in the 19th C America. By choosing this strategy, Poe guarantees an eyewitness accounts of the horrors of taphephobia, moving from a purely aesthetic level to a documentary level. In his study of the concept of anecdote, Greenblatt highlights the idea that the concept revisits the canon and at the same time infringes it. Poe's choice to start with anecdotes of real accidents of premature burial presents a celebration of the tradition of storytelling, which presents the essence of literature, and at the same time a transgression against the traditions of the canonic gothic works. In "The Premature Burial", Poe surpasses the classical openings of gothic works, which traditionally starts with the presentation of characters and setting, focusing on the gothic aspects of both elements. However, he chooses to use another tradition by offering a set of successive stories that would function as a contextualization of the narrator's experience and as a tool to create the effect of the real.

Poe presented taphephobia, throughout his tales, in a "romantic" way, overemphasizing the tragic nature of near death experience and the various emotions of regret, pain, agony and horror. However, "The Premature Burial" presents an exception since he mixes up three types of presentations. He starts by anecdote, narrating different real cases of premature burial to add authenticity to his story and to accentuate the morbid taphephobia. Then, he presents a detailed image of what the victim feels physically and emotionally during a panic attack and he ends with a humorous scene in which the narrator discovers that he is not prematurely interred but rather asleep in a ship berth and that all what he felt was just a nightmare (175). This echoes Robert Scholes' modes of fiction stated in Gerald Kennedy's essay "Poe and Magazine writing on Premature Burial", published in Studies in American Renaissance (1977), showing that the motif is actually presented in three different ways; historical (through giving factual details), satirical by adding humoristic touch to a dramatic event and romantic by exaggerating the tragic effect of such experience (166).

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In this particular tale, Poe chooses an unknown narrator, a symbol of a common American who suffers from taphephobia that is empowered by the nature of his illness which is catalepsy. His feelings, his physical and psychological horror and the precautions he takes present a reflection of what common people feel and do to prevent being buried alive. The realistic feature of this particular tale grants its historical dimension that can be used to study a social phenomenon that invades the 19th C American society. Poe uses different literary techniques to guarantee different effects on different readers and to widen the scope of taphephobia as a universal fear that can overwhelm any human being.

Unlike his other tales, Poe dedicated "The Premature Burial" to be a historical document, rather than a mere fiction. He starts enumerating a number of cases in US and in Europe as an introduction to his tale and as a method to express his personal attitude towards this motif. He directly stated that the direct cause of the phobia presents an extreme example of horror and "[...] the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality" (CTP 252). He even explains the rationale behind his choice, which actually lies in his fascination with the tenuous boundaries between life and death and how the concepts of death and afterlife are ambiguous in relation with the "temporary pauses in the incomprehensible mechanism" (252), caused by mysterious cases of epilepsy and coma. Then, Poe provides lengthy examples of premature burial cases in France (the example of aristocratic lady), US (the case of one of the elite's wife) , the example of the prestigious, authentic German medical journal and the famous case of Mr. Edward Stapleton.

The four examples are well chosen and serve the strategy of the author. They are all chosen to be reliable to strengthen the public panic of the 19th C American society. The example from France serves as a proof that the phenomenon is not restricted to the American context but rather a global event shared by all social classes from all countries. The cases share the idea of medical incompetence to discover the mysteries of certain diseases, leading

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to tragic ends. This lengthy enumeration of cases and the detailed description of each one of them serve as an introduction to the unique experience of the narrator. Poe tries to present a different story of the near death experience, by showing the psychological agony of the narrator rather than the mistaken medical diagnosis. The whole tale revolves around the obsession, that psychological monster that consumes the narrator's emotional and physical life. Poe presented the motif from a mere psychological perspective in an attempt to highlight the nightmare that Americans lived during the 19th C.

2. Taphephobia: The Nightmarish Reality:

Poe presents taphephobia from different versions and different characters. Each tale has a special story and a special experience, but all of them share the presence of the grotesque elements and the sublime effect. Poe uses the different elements of fiction to reflect the mass horror that pervaded the public in the 19th C, using the premature burial as the radical living example from the perspective of the victim and the doer of the internment. In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe utilizes setting, characters and even narration as catalysers to the presentation of the motif of taphephobia. He chooses the setting to be isolated from the city, a decayed house in which its "long, narrow and pointed" windows are "at so vast a distance" from the floor that are " altogether inaccessible from within" (CTP 173), which brings forth feelings of claustrophobia and entrapment that overwhelm the taphephobic victim. Besides, Poe presents the protagonist Roderick Usher, from the beginning of the tale, as the embodiment of death. He is introduced as a young man who suffers, along with his sister, from a family curse, consisted of a mysterious illness that drove him to be isolated from the outer life and to bury himself and his sister in an old decayed house. Poe emphasizes the motif by using the foreshadowing technique, through the character of Lady Madeline who is presented as a ghost of a lost soul who appears and disappears suddenly.

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This portrayal of Roderick Usher and his sister along with the setting build the grounds for a general atmosphere of gloom and mystery and a coming horror.

Furthermore, Poe chooses an intrusive narrator who narrates what he sees from a subjective angle vision, describing in details the uncanny world of Roderick Usher and reflecting his direct psychological pain and agony out of his agitated conscience, knowing that Madeline was buried alive. The narrator shows the general atmosphere of horror and madness, after Madeline's supposed death, that overwhelms himself and his boyhood friend Roderick Usher. He directly states that "overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste (for I felt that I should sleep no more during the night), and endeavoured to arouse myself from the pitiable condition into which I had fallen [...]" (CTP 181). The narrator presents a witness who is affected by the claustrophobic atmosphere of the setting and by the horror of burying someone alive. The use of the first person pronouns "I" and "we" helps the narrator to transmit the horror beyond the limits of fiction, conveying the fact that his experience can be shared with any American within the context of growing morbid fear of premature burial.

In his attempt to study taphephobia as one of the remarkable phenomena in the American society in 19th C, Poe tries to show the different social components that fueled the public morbid fear, highlighting the role of media (notably newspapers) and religion.

2.1. The Role of Newspapers: The Accusation of Medicine:

Poe chooses to deal with taphephobia not from a perspective of a pure psychological dimension, but rather as a historical phenomenon that has its causes. He deals with the primary cause of the public phobia which is the recurrent occurrence of premature burial accidents, for several reasons, across the nation. Each tale reflects one cause behind the frequency of premature burial in an attempt to mirror and emphasize the trepidation that predominates the American psychology, and to unveil the illnesses of the American society.

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"Ligeia", "Morella" and "Berenice" share the same explanation of premature burial. The three cases are a result of a mistaken medical diagnosis or the responsibility of the wrong, unqualified person to announce death. In "Ligeia", Poe emphasizes the fact that she resists for life and that her hasty burial was not based upon a doctor's diagnosis but rather out of her husband's will who "saw that she must die" (CTP 98). Despite the fact that "Ligeia" presents a debatable tale because of its unreliable, addicted narrator, who is under a constant effect of opium, Poe tries to give hints about the circumstances of Ligeia's death, stressing that the narrator's intensive regret may be out of his guilty conscience by taking over his wife's premature death and entombment. Besides, the return of Ligeia, killing the new bride, Lady Rowena, is a proof that she was oppressed by her husband, who took the responsibility of announcing her death and prematurely buried her, and that her return is for the sake of revenge. Poe uses this particular tale as an example of horror and romance, in which he tries to study the direct source of taphephobia, the occurrence of premature burial, reflecting its direct reason, the occurrence of medical mistakes, that participate in reinforcing the mass panic of the Americans during 19th C.

Poe follows the same pattern in his tale "Morella" in which the female protagonist is proclaimed dead while she was giving birth to her daughter. Critics usually refer to this particular tale as a perfect example of the classical stories of the incarnation or transmission of souls since Morella the daughter bears a perfect resemblance to her mother. However, the fact that the narrator finds no trace of the corpse rises the question of the possibility of burying the mother Morella alive. In addition, by the end of the tale, the narrator shows signs of madness by laughing "with a long and bitter laugh" (217) as he realized that his wife could be interred alive by mistake and survived that near death experience. The narrator's claim that Morella is dead, is based upon his few observations, noticing the absence of her voice preceded by "a slight tremor covering her limbs" (216). However, He did not mention any other signs of

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death like the absence of pulse or the change in the body's color. But it was rather a hasty decision out of the narrator's panic and shock.

Poe continues to show the errors that lead to premature internment and rise the prevalent taphephobia in his tale "Berenice". In this particular tale, Poe studies one of the common reasons behind the frequent occurrence of premature burial that causes taphephobia. The narrator shocks the reader with Berenice's death without any description of the circumstances. He just mentioned that she suffered from an epileptic trance led to her death. However, the signs of epilepsy like rigidity in limbs and low pulses can be mistaken for death and she can be buried alive. Poe presents two images of Berenice: an image of a young beautiful and dynamic girl and an image of lady, consumed by epilepsy. He uses the word "destroyer" (CTP 166) to refer to the mysterious thing that killed the old, charming Berenice. The choice of the word destroyer with the emphasis on the anonymity of this radical change opens the horizon to the reader to decode its nature. This destroyer can be physically manifested in form of epilepsy as a neurological illness that consumes the patient physically with the recurrence of seizures. However, the word "destroyer" can refer to the psychological agony and the constant fear, experienced by patients and turning their lives to an endless nightmare. Thus, with the choice of some vocabulary like the example mentioned above, Poe succeeds to convey his descriptive strategy, based upon the rise of suspense and the reflection of the reader's psychology. Berenice's death was not described enough and it was not announced or verified by specialized doctors, which reflects a common error in the era. Throughout the tales, Poe did not mention any presence of doctors or a death certificate, in an attempt to describe one aspect of the obsessive fear that pervaded the American mind in 19th C, accusing medicine and the public ignorance to be the hidden causes behind taphephobia.

The examples of the female protagonists' hasty burials mirror an image occurred in the history of the American society. It is a context of 18th C and notably the context of the

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Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia (1793) during which hasty burials occurred. In his article "Burying Alive", the editor George R. Graham states that

During the prevalence of the yellow fever in this city, in the year 1793, we have every reason to believe, that many persons, suffering with disease, were removed from their houses and interred before the vital spark had fled. So general was this desolating scourge, that those who officiated as undertakers, acted without any check or responsibility, and if in entering a house, the door of which was marked with the fatal characters of the disease, the dying were taken with the dead, to avoid the trouble of a second visit; there was none to call them to account. (Graham's Illustrated Magazine of Literature , Romance, Art, and Fashion 379)

This article shows the lack of medical responsibility as the hasty burials occurred as a way to prevent contagion. This particular case may show the general state of panic that occurred during the era of the epidemic. The article was published forty one years after the epidemic and in particular in 1834 in context of a growing fear of premature burial. Media and particularly the iconic newspapers and journals play a significant role in the phenomenal rising of the mass taphephobia by continuously offering different horrific stories about people who experience premature burial like the example of Graham's periodical. Newspapers like The New York Times used attractive headlines and detailed description of the victim along with acknowledging names of victims and their relatives, stressing the medical wrong diagnosis and its inability to distinguish between apparent and real death. Such details used by authentic newspapers can create panic among people from different social classes and especially if these details are shared by other newspapers from other countries, reporting similarly the same horror, stressing the idea that the phenomenon is no longer a national

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problem. The following quotation presents an example of an article published by The New York Times on February 9, 1884

DAYTON, Feb.8.-A sensation has been created here by the discovery of the fact that Miss Hockwalt , a young lady of high social connections, who was supposed to have died suddenly on Jan. 10, was buried alive. The terrible truth was discovered a few days ago, and since then it has been the talk of the city. The circumstance of Miss Hockwalt's death was peculiar. It occurred on the morning of the marriage of her brother to Miss Emma Schwind at Emannel's Church. Shortly before 6 o'clock the young lady was dressing for the nuptials and had gone into the kitchen. A few moments afterward she was found sitting on a chair with her head leaning against a wall and apparently lifeless. Medical aid was summoned in, Dr. Jewett who, after examination, pronounced her dead. Mass was being read at the time in Emannel's Church and it was thought best to continue, and the marriage was performed in gloom. The examination showed that Anna was of excitable temperament, nervous, and affected with sympathetic palpitation of the heart. Dr. Jewett thought this was the cause of her supposed death. On the following day, the lady was interred in the Woodland. The friends of Miss Hockwalt were unable to forget the terrible impression and several ladies observe that her eyes bore a remarkably natural color and could not dispel an idea that she was not dead. They conveyed their opinion to Annie's parents and the thought preyed upon them so that the body was taken from the grave. It was stated that when the coffin was opened it was discovered that the supposed inanimate body had turned upon its right side. The hair had been torn out in handfuls and the flesh had been bitten from the fingers. The body was reinterred and efforts made to suppress the facts, but

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there are those who state they saw the body and know the facts to be as narrated.

In this example, the journalist uses concrete names and focuses on details in order to convince the reader with the reliability of the accident. Besides, he tries to describe in details the circumstances of the death and the context of the marriage that turns to a mere sadness in an attempt to gain the sympathy of readers, who will identify themselves with this story. In order to highlight the atrocities of premature burial and to intensify the public horror and phobia, the journalist stresses on the detailed description of the corpse after a long period in a suffocating grave, giving the reader the freedom to imagine the physical and the psychological agony that the victim lived. The article of The New York Times presents one example of the widespread articles that reflected the public panic and obsessive fear and even intensified it through the sentimental dealing with the phenomenon of premature burial, focusing on the psychological interaction and sympathy of the reader rather than an objective, scientific report of the event. Instances of people who find themselves by accident in a dusty, dark vault, enable to breath or to scream, struggling for survival were the cliché of the 19th C newspapers and magazines, fueled the fear of the mass and created a general atmosphere of trepidation.

Throughout the six tales, Poe did never refer to the presence of specialized doctors to announce the death of character. All characters were claimed dead by their relatives or husbands, based upon non-scientific, unreliable criteria. This choice is far from being arbitrary. Poe's aim from stressing the absence of doctors in these tales is to reflect one aspect of the American society during the 19thC. As it is reflected throughout the six tales, death and burial were considered as a private family event, in which unqualified family members announce death and take care of everything related to the funeral. Besides, the concept of death is reduced into a basic, abstract definition of absence of breath and pulse. However, as

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the return of characters from their graves shows, this definition of death is not always medically proved for the simple reason that it can be a result of a severe trance. The recurrence of these medical mistakes and the inability to have well defined criteria to distinguish between real and apparent death despite the scientific progress of the era, created a growing obsessive fear of being prematurely buried and living a horrible state between life and death. Leslie Whetstine expresses, in her essay "The History of the Definition(s) of Death: From 18thC to 20th C", that the American 19th C society associates death with the absence of pulse and dysfunction of lungs (65). However, there are some medical cases like catalepsy or coma, where these syndromes are rules and not exceptions. In his attempt to historicize his fictional tales, by recording the dark aspects of the American society, Poe uses a lengthy medical explanation of catalepsy, which was the narrator's illness in "The Premature Burial", emphasizing the fact that the patient enters a state of near death, in which all vital organs become extremely weak and unnoticeable and the whole body becomes rigid but with "traces of warmth" (CTP 256).

This kind of illness was considered as mysterious and mistaken with the state of absolute death. It was even associated with folklore, relating the illness with the world of spiritualism and supernatural, which raises the possibility of burying them alive and thus increases the mass phobia that invaded the American mind during the 19th C. There was a common belief that vampires are originally cataleptic people who were mistakenly interred. This particular explanation is mainly related to the in-between state of vampires since they are originally dead but resurrected, to live once again in the world of living. This idea is further illustrated by Elizabeth Miller in her essay "Getting to Know the Undead: Bram Stocker, Vampires, and Dracula", in which she provides the Irish novelist Abraham Stocker's answer to the question about the origins of Dracula as a character. He states that "[...] A person may have fallen in a death like trance and been buried before the time. Afterwards the body may

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have been dug and found alive, and from this a horror seized upon the people, and in their ignorance they imagine that a vampire was about" (4). This particular reference to the nature of vampires is reflected in Poe's tale "Ligeia" in which the description of the Ligeia is a vampire-like appearance in which there are ghostly movements that poured poison on the dying Rowena's goblet. Poe was inspired by the national folklore of his era, trying to present an unconventional image of vampires in a form of a lady who survived her premature death and came to take her revenge from her husband. By using a folkloric explanation of catalepsy and of premature burial, Poe once again succeeds to report faithfully and vividly the American mind, concretizing its worst fears and anxieties.

Poe reflects the other side of the modernized America as the land of medical development in 19th C, unable to have well defined criteria to announce death, causing several cases of premature burials which leads to an uncontrolled mass horror from such a fate. Poe follows the same path as newspapers by creating fictional tales that characterized by an apparent verisimilitude created out of Poe's descriptive strategy at the level of narration, characters and setting. He reports characters' physical and psychological agony in an attempt to reflect the mass horror that pervaded the American psyche during his era. Thus, Poe's tales transcend the boundaries of aestheticism and become historical documents that record one phase and one social phenomenon in the American history. However, far from being the result of the 19th C solely, taphephobia is intensified by some religious causes and at the same time presents a declaration of the collapse of the nation's religious dogma related to the concept of life and death.

2.2. Taphephobia and the Decortication of Religion:

Influenced by the context of his home town Baltimore, which is referred to by Michael L. Burduck in his book Usher's Forgotten Church?: Edgar Allan Poe and Nineteenth Century American Catholicism as "a hub of American Catholicism" (4), Poe uses some

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religious hints to present the primary cause behind the public taphephobia, stressing that the phenomenon is not restricted solely to the 19th C, but it rather dates back to the early years of Christianity. Poe's strategy to use religion is different from one tale to another, varying from the use of some names with religious connotations to the use of some basic catholic traditions.

In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe uses Madeline as a victim's name; which is a very catholic name that refers to Mary Magdalene. Madeline and Mary Magdalene share the mysterious identity and character in addition to the mystery of their death. Unlike the other female characters, Poe does not provide a clear, detailed description of Madeline despite the fact that she represents a major figure in the story. The first appearance of her character is associated with her mysterious disappearance "the lady Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my presence, disappeared" (CTP 175). Despite the fact that she is known as one of the Jesus Christ's followers who witnessed his crucifixion as well as his resurrection, Mary Magdalene presented, as Hugh Pope affirms in The Catholic Encyclopedia, a debatable figure since she was misidentified with other characters like Mary the "sinner" and Mary of Bethany (761). In addition, both Madeline and Mary Magdalene share the fact that they both suffer from unknown illnesses. For Madeline who suffers from catalepsy, her illness "had long baffled the skill of her physicians" (CTP 175) since, as Christopher Dibble states in his essay "The Dead Ringer: Medicine, Poe and the fear of Premature Burial", the medical field was not developed enough to identify and understand the nervous system diseases that can cause the apparent death (2). As well, The Bible mentions that Jesus heals St Mary Magdalene from her anonymous illness "When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons" (Mark 16:9). According to Wayne Jackson, in his essay "Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?", these seven demons mentioned, refer to physical illness that occurs as a consequence of being

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possessed. Furthermore, Madeline and Mary Magdalene share an enigmatic death. For Madeline, there is no reference in the tale about when she passed away or how. The narrator was "informed abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more" (CTP 179), allowing many questions to be asked about the circumstances of her death, especially after we notice the indifferent reaction of her brother. Mary Magdalene is as well mysteriously buried since there are no records about the real date and place of her burial. Poe's use of parallelism between the biblical story of Mary Magdalene and Madeleine Usher provides a kind of legitimacy to Americans' irrational fear of premature entombment. Echoing a religious story known by the mass places the motif of taphephobia as a reality recorded and validated in antiquity and not as mere hallucinations of a neurotic person.

Poe follows the same path in his tale "The Cask of Amontillado", in which he uses one of the principle catholic practices, which is confession. The plot presents a confession to an unknown person that includes a flashback to an act of immurement "for the love of God" (CTP 189). Poe presents the first cause behind the public trepidation as a holy act done for the sake of religion and not for mere revenge. This description echoes an old history of immurement in the Catholic Church. Many skeletons were found in the walls of churches and monasteries in Europe. One can recall the example mentioned by Henry Charles Lea in his book A History of Inquisition of the Middle Ages (1887), which consists of immuring a nun, accused of two types of heresy; Catharism and Waldenism (487). Lea asserts that the monastery system uses in Pace to refer to " those subjected to it speedily died in all the agonies of despair" (488). The same expression is used by Poe in "The Cask of Amontillado" to suggest that Montresor is the representative of " the cruelty of monastic system" (487) and that Fortunato presents the victim who lived an earthy hell of psychological and physical horrors. This clear religious connotation of the immurement as a form of premature burial

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which is the source of people's panic and obsessive fear, suggests that Poe wants to enlarge the context of the phenomenon to include catholic religion in addition to medicine.

Besides, Poe chooses to use some biblical allusions7 in his tales as a constant reminder to the reader that the phenomenon of premature burial, which consumes their mental peace, is an old practice, deeply rooted in the Christian history through the live burial of many saints. Thus, Poe tries, within the process of reflecting the general trepidation of the American society, to legitimize the mass horror by echoing old images of prematurely buried, well known saints. One of the examples of saints presented in The Roman Martyrology, revised and corrected by Benedict XIV, is saint Chrysanthus and his wife Daria who were buried alive for trying to convert Romans. In his article for National Geographic News, Ker Than states that there are skeletons found in Italy and believed to be of this saint and his wife. This investigation is led by the Italian professor Ezio Fulcheri who states that "all of the evidence we have gathered points toward the relics having belonged to Chrysanthus and Daria" (Than, "Legendary Saints were Real, Buried Alive, Study Hints"). Other examples of saints who supported the words of Jesus Christ and martyred by being buried alive are present in the history of Christianity like Saint Castulus, Saint Vitalis and Saint Oran. These living examples presented in Christianity, the defining religion of American people intensify the horror they live within, realizing that the primary cause of their phobia is an omnipresent element in their religious history.

Despite the deep-rootedness of the phenomenon in the Christian history, taphephobia's heyday was in the 19th C and one can relate this period with the gradual collapse of the nation's religious doctrine. The context of 19h C in America presents an era of a constant battle between science and religion especially with the age of Enlightenment that developed in the 18th C and with the revolutionary theory of Darwin. According to Paul Jerome Croce in

7 It is the title of William Mentzel Forrest's book published in 1928.

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his essay " Encyclopedia Entry on Nineteenth Century Science and Religion", the Darwinian theory "brought the religious leaders' worst fears to life" (Encyclopedia of American Culture and Intellectual History 1838). A more secular society grew during the 19th C, having a developing strong faith on the medical and scientific progress rather than on their basic religious concepts. This radical change includes the concept of life and death, the immortality of the human soul and the concept of afterlife.

Within the process of representing taphephobia as the defining fear of the 19th C United States, Poe continues providing hints on the social , historical and religious contexts of the phobia. Out of six tales, the characters of Ligeia, Egaeus, Roderick Usher and Morella share one common feature related to their intellectual portraits. They are interested in the forbidden knowledge related to the nature of human soul and the ambiguous concept of death and afterlife. Portraying Ligeia, Poe focuses on the clandestine feature of the character by showing that the narrator, who is her husband, has no idea about her origins. Thus, by the end of the tale, the reader will be able to question the authenticity of the story and in particular the narrator. Poe highlights this ambiguity through the poem written and recited by Ligeia herself. The poem is about the tragedy of Man who is defeated by "The Conqueror Worm" (CTP 99) that symbolizes the power of death. The whole poem presents a manifestation of what is happening in heaven where angels and seraphs witness what happens on Earth. Ligeia describes in details the horror experienced by Man within the context of his innate struggle against death. The poem presents an aesthetic, literary representation of a religious concept like death in which Ligeia provides a philosophical explanation of the afterworld, portraying it as a society of angels and archangels watching the human "madness", "sin" and "horror" (99).

Poe uses the same pattern to describe Morella, stressing on her intellectual capacities rather than on her beauty. He states that she has a "Pressburg education" (CTP 214).

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According to Dawn B. Sova, in his book Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to his Life and Work (2007), Pressburg presents "the center for "the Black Arts" [...] whose meaning appears to be the use of magic for evil purposes" (118). Besides, Poe asserts that the character is interested in "mystical writings" (CTP 214) and enjoys discussing Pantheism which is defined in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the philosophy that stands for the idea that divinity and "cosmos" are identical, creating a possibility of having a multiplicity of Gods. Poe uses Pantheism in particular to record one of the most debatable philosophies in the 19th C America since it was refused by some religious leaders considered it as anti religious like the case of Mary Becker Eddy, mentioned in Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics (2003) while others accepted it, relying on the belief that God is everywhere.

Within the context of the rising Darwinism and Pantheism in the 19th C America, taphephobia presents a result of the collapse of religious dogma related especially to the concept of death, afterlife and the immortality of the soul. In an age of growing scientific awareness and belief, the concept of death lost its mystical, religious dimension as a sudden event designed and controlled by divinity, to become in 19th C a purely scientific concept that refers to a natural phenomenon, a result of biological aging and sickness. Besides, Poe shows the scientific side of his characters by stressing on their obsessive interest with the human soul, echoing his personal efforts to study this abstract, mystical concept in a very logical and scientific way. In his article "Studies in English and American Fiction", published in the French literary Magazine La Revue des Deux Mondes in 1846, E.D Forgues asserts that Poe was engrossed in finding "a plausible explanation both of human soul and of the Divinity" (Edgar Allan Poe: The Critical Heritage 211). Poe's personal interest with the nature of the human soul and his attempt to find scientific explanation to what happens in the grave is echoed in the different portraits of his characters and notably the character of Ligeia, Morella,

8 This term refers originally to the Post WWI generation of writers, including Earnest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The aim of using this term is to reflect the same metaphorical meaning of the concept.

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Roderick Usher and Egaeus through emphasizing the fact that they were interested in the forbidden knowledge related to the nature of the soul and its immortality. Besides, Poe's interests in scientific study of the human soul echoes as well the predominant atmosphere of 19th C American society. Within the context of a growing faith in science, the frequent occurrence of premature burial presents a source of a prevalent fear, since it symbolizes a midway state between life and death, a mysterious state that has no scientific explanation. Thus, the obsessive state of taphephobia, that predominates the American society during more than a century, presents a result of a wonky belief in sciences after the frequent occurrence of medical faults and a result of the collapse of the religious dogma that presents for a long time the basic explanation of the mysterious phenomena like death. Hence, the 19th C Americans present a "lost generation"8 unable neither to reinstate their strong religious faith nor to have confidence in science, that proves its inability to have a strict definition of death. Within this psychological loss, the 19th C Americans tried to find some radical solutions in order to repress the source of their phobia. However, these solutions aggravate their taphephobia, showing how an irrational obsession changed the American lifestyle during a whole century.

3. Adapted Precautions : A Reflection of an Obsessed Society:

Except in "The Premature Burial", Poe did not reflect the different precautions adopted by the American society during his era, preferring to emphasize on the phenomenon rather than on different ways created to repress the phobia. However, in his tale "The Premature Burial", Poe documents the different aspects of the phobia by presenting a typical narrator, suffering from taphephobia. In addition to the different psychological and physical agonies experienced by the victim, Poe shows the obsessive side of the narrator and how this phobia present the ultimate terror that can shape one's life. The narrator of "The Premature Burial" shows how he was controlled by his own phobia through his attempts to protect himself from

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the horror through wills, taking oaths from his friends to be buried after being sure that he is really dead. Besides, he obsessively reconstructs his family vault to become like the model of safety coffins ,which were spread throughout the country during the 19th C. Within the context of unreliable medicine and a growing obsession with the premature burial, the 19hC Americans tried to assure themselves that they will not face the horrors of grave through different solutions that can be historically divided into four categories namely; putrefaction, wills, bills and the creation of safety coffins.

3.1. Putrefaction:

Putrefaction presents the radical solution adopted by Americans to ensure the actual death and to soften their obsession, by watching the corpse several days before burial. This radical precaution came after several instances of well known people were mistakenly pronounced dead and woke up during the process of embalming. Larry Dossey provides, in his article "The Undead: Batched Burials, Safety Coffins, and the Fear of Grave", the example of Cardinal Somaglia, a well respected Italian cardinal, who were mistakenly considered dead in 1830 and who woke up in the process of embalming, only to pass away from thoracic incision (350). Choosing putrefaction as a solution to reduce the frequency of premature burial incidents reflects the growing seriousness of the phenomenon of taphephobia that develops from a personal, exclusive obsession to a national fear that invades not only the mass's life but also preoccupies the minds of the American elite. As an expression of the general pervading atmosphere that characterized the 19thC American society, journals, pamphlets and encyclopedias of the era revisit the basic definitions of death and burial in an attempt to find a scientific solution for the phenomenon. In 1830, Encyclopedia Americana redefined the term "burial" in its second volume, mirroring the obsession that consumes the public interest and serenity. It is mentioned that

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Great care should be taken not to bury the body too soon after death. The ancient nations endeavored to satisfy themselves, by many precautions, that death had really taken place. [...] We should wait at least three days in winter, and two whole days in summer, unless the hot weather requires a quicker internment. It would be well to introduce the custom of exposing the corpse to the inspection of a person regularly instructed for this purpose, who should carefully and repeatedly examine it, and none should be interred without the certificate of this inspector [...]. (332)

This definition, quoted from an academic, prestigious encyclopedia, reflects how much the obsession shapes the American life and academia. The reference to precautions used by old nations presents an attempt to have credibility and authenticity that the measurements, mentioned later, and notably putrefaction are assured ways to identify real death. Besides, the quotation suggests the introduction of new ways that can be adapted by the American community like death certificate and the presence of an inspector. This suggests that taphephobia reached its ultimate in 19th C to the extent that it changed the American traditions of death and burial by presenting new traditions and ceremonies. This is further justified with the use of adverbs like "carefully, repeatedly" to emphasize the serious impact of the phobia on the American mindset. However, this obsession is not depicted only through the adaptation of putrefaction as one efficient way to prevent premature burial, but it is also depicted through the different wills through which the death bed becomes a reflection of the dying man's premonitions about the uncertainty of his demise.

3.2. Wills:

In "The Premature Burial", Poe shows one aspect of the narrator's obsession by describing his manic behavior, taking oaths from his friends to bury him after being sure that he is really dead. This aspect presents a common behavior among victims of taphephobia,

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who try to find consolation by asserting in their wills to be buried after certain days in order to prevent the horror of premature burial. George Washington presents one example of well known historical figure who insists in his will in 1799 to be buried days after his actual death to prevent the premature burial (The Papers of George Washington). Yet, there are other 19thC non American figures who were as well controlled by their phobia. Lord Chesterfield, the Polish composer Frederic Chopin and the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson were, like Washington, obsessed with the horror of premature burial and tried to assure in their wills that they would not be buried alive. Another remarkable example is the instance of Harriet Martineau, the English first female sociologist, who suffers from unbearable obsession of being interred alive. In her last moments, she left 10 pounds to her doctor to check the mutilation of her head before burial (Premature Burial and How It May be Prevented 154).

Putrefaction and wills presented two common ways to prevent the premature burial and despite the fact that putrefaction in particular is considered as the surest sign of death as Jean Jacque Bruhier asserted in his book Dissertation sur l'Incertitude des Signes de la Mort (1745), a more radical solutions are necessitated in order to assuage the obsessive fear. Different articles, essays and pamphlets were written to warn people about the occurrence of such experiences. These writings guide the mass to a well defined symptoms of death and inspire physicians and inventors to innovate more effective tools.

3.3. The rise of Safety Coffins Industry:

As has been mentioned before, "The Premature Burial" is distinguished from other tales by its historical dimension since Poe tries to add historical validity to the tale in addition to its dominating horror. In addition to his use of real accidents as a strategy to intensify the terror of the reader and to suggest that the phenomenon of taphephobia is a historical event that marked the 19th C, Poe uses the safety coffins as an example of the historical authenticity of the tale and as a reflection of the seriousness of the obsessive fear that controls the mind of

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a nation during a whole century. In his tale "The Premature Burial", Poe describes the use of the safety coffin as the ultimate level of the terror, experienced by the narrator who sees the safety coffin as the surest way to prevent his premature burial. Poe presents the safety coffin in details, emphasizing the complexity of such invention that reflects the degree of trepidation and panic that invade the American psyche during the 19thC. He defines the safety coffin as an invention that consists of several

[...] [A]rrangements for the free admission of air and light, and convenient receptacles for food and water, within immediate reach of the coffin intended for my reception. This coffin was warmly and softly padded, and was provided with a lid, fashioned upon the principle of the vault door, with the addition of springs so contrived that the feeblest movement of the body would be sufficient to set at liberty. Beside all this, there was suspended from the roof of the tomb, a large bell, the rope of which, it was designed, should extend through a hole in the coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the corpse" ( CTP 259).

This detailed description of the safety coffin that would be used by the protagonist in case of being interred alive during a trance, emphasizes the historicity of the tale since the description quoted above mirrors one of the common designs of safety coffins in United States during 19th C. The design, chosen by the narrator to prevent his premature burial, presents one of the sophisticated , complex design developed in the 19thC and particularly in 1829 by the German inventor Dr Johann Gottfried Taberger who included the elements of rope and bell to the primary design of the safety coffin, introduced by Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in the 18th C. Besides, the detailed description of this invention reflects how the phenomenon of taphephobia develops from a personal fear to a national obsessive trepidation that consumes the American psyche and that refashions the American lifestyle. The description provided by Poe presents one of the hundreds of designs developed in 19th C, in attempt to find solution

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for the rising phobia. Hence, taphephobia becomes a source of inspiration and safety coffins become a whole industry and a source of wealth for many businessmen.

The Americans' growing obsession and their hopeless attempts to find a solution to be 'saved by the bell'9 inspire inventors to create further designs and models of safety coffins in order to provide a total protection from premature burial. Multiple designs were offered by inventors like Franz Vester (model of 1868), whose experience of burying himself in his new design of safety coffin presented a fertile source of exclusive, phenomenal news. Besides, other inventors like Albert Feabnaught, William H. White and Hubert Deveau started to add other accessories to the basic, primary design of safety coffin like fans, alarms, pipes transcending the essence of the invention from a necessity to a luxury (United States Patent Office). This wide range of safety coffins that varied from simple ones with only a tube to guarantee the entrance of air to the casket to the most complex ones in which bells, food and drinks are included, shows how the concept of death in general and the tradition of burial in particular are commercialized since professional undertakers, companies and industries of safety coffins flourished. As has been described in Poe's tales, the idea of burying a dead relative becomes a complex process since the entire society was consumed by the irrational obsession of premature burial. Hence, death and burial transforms from a familial, sad event to an event that necessitates professional intervention of sophisticated, expensive inventions. In his book The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law, Timothy Sandefur states that by 1881, the National Burial Case Association was founded by American coffin makers to set fixed prices for coffins, monopolizing the funeral market. He further accentuates the importance of this industry by declaring that "[it] takes in about $ 25 billion per year" (150).

9 "saved by the bell" is an American expression that refers to someone saved by the last minute. This expression is originally created in 17th C with the appearance of the phenomenon of premature burial and developed in the 18th C with the creation of safety coffins, characterized by the presence of a bell that would warn the grave digger that the victim is buried alive.

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3.4. Bills:

Throughout the six tales under study, Poe tries to present taphephobia as a national obsessive fear rather than personal hallucinations using different strategies in relation to his descriptive style and choice. "The Premature Burial" in particular presents a historicized tale in which Poe tries to transcend the aesthetic limitations of the tale to reach a richer global dimension which is the representation of the nation and a whole age. In this context, Poe uses a long introduction in his tale, expressing his own view about the phenomenon and using some historical references to add authenticity and to emphasize the fact that taphephobia is no longer a merely gothic motif or theme but it is rather a historical, social and psychological phenomenon that overwhelmed the American nation during the 19th C.

The popular growing diligence to find radical solutions for the recurrence of premature internments shows how taphephobia becomes the defining word for the American lifestyle, driving people to refashion their lives according to their obsession. This is shown through the examples of wills that proved that the obsession controlled even the man's last words. However, the seriousness of this phenomenon transcends the limitation of the private life to become an official national affair. The trepidation and panic that controlled the American life in 19thC drove the American government to find legal solution to prevent it. By the end of the century and particularly in 1899, an Assemblyman Redington proposed a bill before the Senate, stipulating certain procedures to be followed before burying in order to prevent the premature interment. These procedures necessitate the presence of a doctor or as it is referred to in the New York Times article "To Stop Premature Burial" (1899) "a coroner". The bill includes also five physical signs to assure death, including decomposition as the ultimate sign of death. The bill reflects the popular obsession through its emphasis on the illegality of burying the corpse before twelve hours from the times of death. The complex procedures, provided by the bill, highlight how taphephobia was not repressed in the private psychological

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sphere but it was rather empowered by the American trepidation to the extent that it controlled and reshaped the American lifestyle. As Poe uses real stories from different nations across Europe to stress that the phenomenon is not strictly American but rather international, H. Gerald Chapin, the writer of this bill accentuates the fact that the bill is duplicated in England with serious attempts "to get it before the parliament".

4. Concluding Notes:

Poe's dealing with the phenomenon of taphephobia presents a unique way to keep faithful to the gothic literary traditions and to try at the same time to create a new style that combines literature and documentation. He starts from a familiar phenomenon in 19th C United States to record and intensify the horror and panic of the mass through mixing the gothic descriptive style and the historical sources like newspaper articles and medical journals and books. The motif of taphephobia was not treated as purely a gothic motif, but rather as a medical, social, religious and historical event that needs a close analysis to decode the other hidden side of the developed new world. Poe unveils the American society, showing that under the veil of medical and technological development, there is a decayed society, controlled by obsessive fear and lack of rationality. Taphephobia presents a key through which the reader discovers the deterioration of religious dogma within an era of growing belief in scientific capacities. However, the same phenomenon shows also that science was one of the reasons behind the developing taphephobia through the medical mistakes that caused hundreds of premature burials. Thus, Poe's presentation of the motif highlights that the American society is torn between religion and science which leads to a total loss and collapse. Hence, the phenomenon is empowered and becomes the driving force that reshapes and refashions the American lifestyle.

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In this dissertation, the study of taphephobia from a new historicist perspective discloses another deeper dimension that transcends the psychological nature of the motif. The choice of new historicism as a theory to be used in the analysis allows a close study of the American society in 19th C through its fears and phobias. It unveils how Poe's gothic tales and the society and era he lived in are intermingled and reflect each other. The first chapter attempts to contextualize the analysis through the presentation of new historicism as the adapted theory. The first chapter shows how new historicism is open to other literary theories and other fields. Theories of Foucault, Althusser and Jameson inspire new historicist theorists to build their own perception of literature as an inseparable discipline from history. The first chapter focuses on the necessity of culture and history to understand fully the literary work since it is a cultural product par excellence. In this chapter, the concepts of intertextuality, historicity of the text and textuality of the history and anecdote are defined to present the basis for the analysis in the following chapters.

The six tales under study share the same strategy used to present a full image of taphephobia. Poe starts from exposing the direct reason behind the rising phobia, which is the frequent accidents of premature burial. He uses the different components of a fiction (characters, setting, narration, lexical fields) to convey the seriousness of premature burial that causes the growing taphephobia. The second chapter study how Poe uses different literary and non literary texts to prove that premature burial is not a mere folkloric, legendary ritual and that taphephobia is not an exclusive psychological deterioration but rather a reality that should be faced and treated. The chapter unveils the fact that Poe's choice of taphephobia is not whimsical but rather out of his conscience that the motif serves his literary philosophy and his own definition of sublime. Poe was aware that he needs to record taphephobia as a remarkable historical event that overwhelmed the society during the 19th C. He presented throughout the

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tales a complete image of taphephobia and the reasons behind its occurrence in an attempt to create a documentary with literary characteristics. He used several non literary disciplines and notably the medical and religious fields to prove that the phenomenon is not quite simple but rather very complex and multilayered.

Poe attempts to mirror one aspect of the American society in his gothic tales using fictional characters and unnamed narrator who presents the American citizen. However, "The Premature Burial" in particular presents an exception since he adapts a new strategy. Poe starts by documenting a number of real life accidents that happened in 19th C in US and Europe (France and England). This strategy is used as an introduction of the fictional tale. The enumeration of these tales aims to add authenticity to the tale, emphasizing the historicity of the phenomenon. Besides, this strategy helps to intensify further the taphephobia of the American reader by putting him face to face with his worst nightmares.

With the third chapter, taphephobia has been analyzed as a reflection of a decaying society. The fall of the religious belief in the canonic concepts like death and life along with the rise of a secular society that believes in the power of science intensify further the Americans' psychological agony. Hence, taphephobia presents a reflection of a lost society that cannot find solace neither in religion nor in scientific solutions.

This dissertation treated taphephobia as a literary motif and as a historical event that is rooted in the American society. Hence, this work transcends the different critics' analysis of taphephobia from a psychoanalytic perspective. It shows how Poe reflects the seriousness of the phenomenon that developed from a personal natural fear of death to a national obsessive phobia that reshapes the American lifestyle. This dissertation shows how Poe's choice of the motif can be explained as an attempt to give an authentic image of the American society characterized by the unreliability of scientific theories and the collapse of the nation's religious dogma. Thus, Poe's gothic tales are not merely fictional stories for the sake of

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entertainment but rather serve as historical documents that record the social preoccupations of that era. Furthermore, this work shows how taphephobia refashions the American lifestyle since it controlled people's thoughts and behaviours. New traditions were adjusted to be appropriate for the growing phobia. Death bed scenes transformed from sad last words to a set of directions written in wills to prevent premature burials. Death becomes an industry and a profitable business with the rise of safety coffins as precautionary tools. Hundreds of patents were dedicated to the safety coffins' models, transforming the necessity to a luxury.

In brief, taphephobia presents an omnipresent fear in the American mind and a source of inspiration for many writers and notably Poe who is fascinated with the nature of the phobia's essence, reminding the human being with the fine line between life and death. However, as Poe shows in his tale "The Premature Burial", the phobia is not restricted to the American context but rather a universal fear that pervaded the human mind in 19thC. Taphephobia presents a source of inspiration for other artists like Antoine Wiertz who preferred to record the phenomenon through oil and brushes to create the masterpiece "L'Inhumation Precipitée"10.

10 translated as the premature burial

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