At George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins hosted The Enigmatic Edgar A. Poe in Baltimore & Beyond Exhibit. The exhibit featured private writings by Poe from Susan Jaffe Tane’s collection, which gave an impression of reverence for the work of Poe, while remembering his ties to Baltimore.
There were mainly books but what was specifically interesting was the portrait of Poe, his engagement ring, and a lock of his hair. The physical presence of these three items give a deeper sense of his presence. Although it is clear that he is not alive, seeing things so fundamental as a portrait, the representation of love, and his own hair brings a very relatable human experience. In the same way that the expression of words and similar objects in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley brings life and realness to the novel. “Below this picture was a miniature of William; and my tears flowed when I looked upon it” (Shelley 85-6) Human emotion and empathy is made clear with specific images.
Because of these images there is a clearer emotional and mental impression of people who are past. There was definitely a personal sense of Edgar Allen Poe’s influence as an author and as a person.
“Theology”, “Tableau”, and Frankenstein share the common theme of unnecessary discrimination or separation of people. Through what is clearly misunderstanding and unjust, a theme of prejudice against innocent people is the common theme in each writing.
In “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is concise but displays a definite message. It is condemning the actions of his neighbors, who would be bigots at the time of writing this poem. “There is a hell, I’m quite as sure; for pray, If there was not, where would my neighbors go?” (Laurence 3-4) The actions of his neighbors are unjustified and so he makes jest of them. Paul Laurence was an early influential black poet, which clarifies that this poem was addressed to the racists of the time.
Similarly, “Tableau” by Countee Cullen, gives an image of two boys who are being judged for being friends because of the different color of their skin. Each society is bewildered by their union, “From lowered blinds the dark folk stare, And here the fair folk talk.” (Cullen 5-6) It is unclear to them that there is no actual difference between these two boys that should separate them.
These two poem’s themes of separation of those who should be together, and unecessary prejudice against a neighbor because they appear different, are similar to the themes in Frankenstein. Victor’s creation feels the same separation and prejudice without reason besides external appearance. Yet it is strikingly clear by his narrative that he is intelligent and very articulate. But still he is separated from society because of his bodily features, rather than his real personality.