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Edgar Allan Poe is perhaps the best-known American Romantic who worked in the Gothic mode His stories explore the darker side of the Romantic imagination dealing with the grotesque the supernatural and the horrifying He defined the form of the American short storyAs one might expect Poe himself eschewed conventional morality which he believed stems from mans attempts to dictate the purposes of God Poe saw God more as process than purpose He believed that moralists derive their beliefs and thus the resultant behavioral patterns from a priori knowledge In Eureka we find that Poe shunned such artifices of mind systems which he professed have no basis in reality Yet Poe employed in his writing the diction of the moral tome which causes confusion for readers immersed in this tradition Daniel Hoffman reiterates Allan Tates position that aside from his atavistic employment of moral terminology Poe writes as though Christianity had never been invented Hoffman 171 Poe did offer to posterity one tale with a moral Written in 1841 at the dawn of Poes most creative period Poe delivers to his readers a satirical spoof a literary Bronx cheer to writers of moralistic fiction and to critics who expressed disapprobation at finding no discernible moral in his works The tale Never Bet the Devil Your Head A Tale with a Moral presents Poes way of staying execution Poe 487 for his transgressions against the didactics The storys main character is Toby Dammit who from infanthood had been flogged left-handed which since the world revolves right to left causes evil propensities to be driven home rather than driven out The narrator relates that by the age of seven months Toby was chasing down and kissing the female babies that by eight months he had flatly refused to sign the Temperance Pledge and that by the end of his first year hed taken to wearing moustaches but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing and for
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