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[193] now familiar enough. The power of a tale, he thought, turned chiefly if not solely upon its unity, its harmony of effect. This is illustrated in all of his finest stories. In The fall of the House of Usher the theme is Fear; the opening sentence strikes the key and the closing sentence contains the climax. In the whole composition every sentence is modulated to the one end in view. The autumn landscape tones with the melancholy house; the somber chamber frames the cadaverous face of Roderick Usher; the face is an index of the tumultuous agitation of a mind wrestling with the grim phantom Fear and awaiting the cumulative horror of the final moment. In Ligeia, which Poe sometimes thought the best of all his tales, the theme is the ceaseless life of the will, the potency of the spirit of the beloved and departed woman. The unity of effect is absolute, the workmanship consummate. So with the theme of revenge in The Cask of Amontillado, the theme of mysterious intrigue in The Assignation. In Poe's detective stories, or tales of ratiocination as he preferred to call them, he takes to pieces for our amusement a puzzle which he has cunningly put together. The Gold Bug is the best known of these, The Purloined letter the most perfect, The

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Edgar Allan Poe (2)
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Ligeia (1)
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