“The Premature Burial”: Four Stories in One

“The Premature Burial” explores the concept of literary “pleasurable pain”. It is a deep exploration of gothic literature. A forefront to the type of fear experienced from being trapped in a grave too soon. The extreme lengths that people will go to avoid it and how they plan to escape once it is their reality.

“The Premature Burial” by Edgar Allen Poe dives into the idea of being buried alive by a narrator who is seemingly obsessed with the concept. This story follows four distinct instances of being buried alive. One follows a woman who was thought to be dead, buried, and then discovered years later having awakened in her tomb. Another describes how a younger man assumed dead is buried and attempts to escape his predicament. A third story demonstrates how a patient that appeared to have died from Typhus fever. Friends of the patient requested a post-mortem examination which was denied. The body was buried and then unearthed to be operated on for scientific information, but someone who was not actually dead would not be very willing to participate in an operation. The final account was one of a man that periodically lost consciousness. Being buried alive is the characters greatest fear so much so that he puts precautions in place in the family vault in case such a thing would happen. This gives him some source of comfort until he finds himself underground while away from home.

Poe’s “The Premature Burial” is definitely an interesting and unique read. It is short, detailed, and holds your attention. Descriptive writing is at the heart of the piece. A story such as this is definitely something you have to be in the mood for and it is not for everyone. Although “The Premature Burial” has a very specific plot it is definitely a worthwhile read. While this story is not necessarily scary it will give you a very gothic literature feel.

Some of the best aspects of the story are the details that make it come to life, such as the descriptions of every precaution one character put in place in order to escape in the event that he would be buried alive. The stories are told from different perspectives which helps diversify the story. Another positive would be the multiple stories within one.

“The Premature Burial” is not the best Edgar Allan Poe story I have ever read but it is thoroughly a valuable read to check off your list for 2021. If you are a fan of older literature, this is the story for you. While not feeling too out of date, this is definitely not the typical teen read, but if you are searching for something out of your comfort zone to set your reading list apart, give this story a try.