Poe's Rhetoric

Amber Johnson
ENGL 2031
Patricia Roger
Essay 1
Due: February 25, 2010
Poe’s Rhetoric
  Poe has captivated readers with his terrifying, tragic stories, but few have questioned his skills.   Every student has read Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” at some point in their schooling history.   Students interpret that tale as the narrator’s original confession, but the narrator confesses in the ending of the story.   The narrator is obviously recounting the events for someone.   This is the point where the few begin to question Poe’s rhetoric skills.   Some believe that Poe was just a bad rhetorician while others, like Brett Zimmerman essayist of “Frantic Forensic Oratory: Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, believe that it was Poe’s intentions to let his character fail, to sound psychotic and is a great rhetorician.   I believe the latter.   Poe is a writer of tragedies; he would want his character to sound incompetent in explaining himself to someone else or a jury, so he could fail at sounding sane and justified.   Zimmerman realizes this characteristic of Poe’ short stories and writes an informative essay of how Poe must have known the techniques of rhetoric oratory.
Zimmerman starts his essay by negating Ezra Pounds opinion that Poe is “A dam’d bad rhetorician half the time.”   He gives a brief summary of the story in the opening paragraph.   He then organizes it into Poe’s education in rhetoric, where he looks at the time period of when Poe grew up and what he most likely studied, and the frantic forensic oratory, where he looks more to the story and applies what Poe must have learned in rhetoric to the character’s own knowledge. Then he ends with a few closing remarks and notes, which he notes as peroratio (the ending of classical rhetoric).   Throughout the entire essay he keeps his thesis alive, which is Poe was indeed a master of rhetoric.
In the first part of his essay, Zimmerman reminds readers that Poe was indeed a great rhetorician and should have due to his education....