Absence of BeautyEdgar Allan Poe sees evil as a living threat to man because he lives in its presence. Parallel with the tragedies in his own life relating to the deaths of his young mother, wife and others he loved in his life. It is no wonder that he sees the absence of beauty as evil, because he felt the terror and tragedy of the loss of his own life. In his stories he illustrates how the absence of beauty is the essence of evil.
In “The Tell Tale Heart” when the old man’s eyes is closed he would not be killed because his eye is not considered ugly. That is why each night the man goes into his room to see if the eye is open. “… but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.”(139) The eye when open represents the ugliness of the old man. When that ugliness is present, beauty is gone and evil is present.
The ugliness of the old man’s open eye is the cause for his killer to kill him because evil is present and beauty is no where to be found. In “The Fall of the House of Usher” Madeline is beautiful once she gets sick her brother, Roderick, gets sick and everything seems to fall apart. Madeline’s beauty had kept the evil down and covered up.
As Madeline gets sicker and sicker it gets worse and worse. Finally when Madeline dies beauty no longer exists Roderick goes crazy and everything is destroyed because beauty was not there to cover up all the evil that they possessed. The absence of beauty caused all evil to break loose. The house collapses and Roderick is destroyed.
In “The Black Cat” the cat to him was beautiful and precious. “This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree.”(12) Beauty is what one person sees through his own eyes. “The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness.”(18) Once he saw that the cat was no longer beautiful it causes him to murder his wife because all his evil was hidden and once that beauty that he saw died and became none existing everything he was hiding especially his evil side came out caused him to kill.
The beauty of the cat had suppressed his evilness but once he saw that the cat was not beautiful anymore all his evil comes out.In many of Poe’s poems and stories he illustrates how evil is the absence of beauty. In “The Raven” the absence of Lenore causes him to fight with his inner self. Because the absence of beauty, Lenore, evil is present. In “The Masque of the Red Death” evil is the red death.
When the read death is not present everything is fine but when the red death appears everything goes wrong and people die. In the poem “The City in the Sea” the city was beautiful. But once it was destroyed the city was no longer beautiful all of its beauty was destroyed and it no longer existed. The city became evil because beauty was no longer there.Evil is the absence of beauty because when beauty no longer exist it is the evil that will come out. Everybody lives in the presence of evil our only escape from that evil is beauty.
This can only happen momentarily because beauty cannot exist forever.