Keywords: the person of the masses analysis, the man of the crowd theme
"Such a great misfortune, not to be able to be by itself, " declares the beginning type of Edgar Allan Poe's "Man of the Audience. " Surrounded by a city packed with people, the narrator is indeed not alone in that sense. "Alone, " though, may be viewed in another light: to be unique, to stand alone resistant to the chaos and homogeneity of the crowd. The interactions the narrator has with and the observations he makes about the people of London give insight regarding the character of urban associations generally. Though the narrator does not in reality have any direct communication with the individuals in this storyline, he observes and studies on all of them, and these observations substitute for his lacking personal relationships. It is his observations of the city of London itself, of the audience, and of the old man that reveal Poe's distaste for the isolation and lack of personality that city life fosters.
The city is mostly only described at night, and we see next to nothing of the hours of sunlight. The audience, therefore, is remaining with a dark and gloomy image of the town. By giving this lone nighttime portrait of the town through the narrator, Poe automatically creates a depressing prospect on city life that pervades the storyline and provides the setting for the entire commentary.
To reinforce the depressing outlook, Poe has the narrator enumerate the top features of the "verge of the town" in greater detail than every other part of London (220). He states that this place "[wears] the most severe impress of the very most deplorable poverty, and of the most desperate crime" (220). The poverty and offense reveals that individuals do not care about each other, in that nobody helps the poorest of the indegent and the criminals haven't any regard because of their fellow city dwellers.
People are isolated from, and apathetic towards, their fellow city dwellers. To provide an additional impression of the impoverishment and apathetic nature of the town, he identifies the beggars, poor girls returning using their company demanding work, and sick and tired people wandering about the streets. From the information of the people it is visible that the town is a frosty, uncaring, and unforgiving place: the tired were "in search of some chance consolation" and the young girls had to return to "careless homes" (217). Having less matter for others in the location features Poe's notions that the urban environment creates isolation between its inhabitants.
While talking about the crowd, the narrator is sitting behind a screen, separated from people. Adding him behind the a glass isolates him from those whom he's so meticulously observing. One would think that after being suffering and inside for calendar months at a time, the narrator will need some kind of personal, human connection, yet he's properly content to remain by themselves indoors and ponder the pedestrians from afar. His willingness to be together further plays a part in the sense that folks are truly isolated in the city. This isolation is also seen in the pedestrians, who "[talk] and [gesticulate] to themselves, as though feeling in solitude due to the denseness of the business around" (216). Here the narrator points out that because there are so many people around and since nobody knows one another, these people feel like they are together.
Poe advises, through the narrator's observations, that while you can maintain extreme proximity to others in the town, he's not truly connected with some of them, except in the sense that he may share some general attributes with a huge band of others that triggers him to be seen as part of the whole.
The narrator states that he at first looks at individuals "in their aggregate relationships" but moves into observing the details which there were "innumerable varieties" (216). Herein is placed a contradiction: he highlights there are "innumerable types, " yet he does exactly the complete opposite by enumerating the types of individuals that he sees and placing each person into a particular category. The narrator snacks each person within each of his classifications as the same as the whole: though he message or calls them "individuals, " he immediately places them into a larger group. Poe here is trying to say that when you may feel that you are a definite person in the town, you have already lost your personality by being part of the "audience. " The narrator instructs himself that many people are different, however in directing out their differences, he makes sweeping generalizations, thus making many people exactly like one another.
Furthermore, when the narrator classifies and explains the "crowd, " he will so in a very scientific manner, looking at all of them through their "figure, dress, air, gait, visage, and manifestation of countenance" (216). While these traits should make each individual different at least
in a way from another, all of them are treated as a similar within each group. The classification of the individuals in the group makes them lose their individuality by generalizing and placing each person into a pre-labeled group.
When a person comes, the "man of the crowd, " that can't be classified, the narrator is "startled" (218): he doesn't know how to think about this man since he cannot put him in a well-defined category. He is so intrigued by this man that he leaves the coffee shop where he has been meticulously scouring the folks of the crowd. He purposefully hides among the
pedestrians in order not to be seen and, in doing so, loses his individuality and becomes yet another undistinguishable face amid a sea of others, suggesting that his quest to classify this man is futile. When the narrator himself is indistinguishable, how is he able to individualize and ascribe specific characteristics to someone else? Also, the way in which he represents the passages that the old man requires causes him to become intertwined with the old man's individuality: the narrator says that "he hurried into the avenue [. . . ] until we emerged" (220). He must do just as the old man will in order to remain close and monitor him. Again, this combining of identities stresses the loss of individuality in the city that Poe hopes to indicate. A person starts to lose his identity when he starts off behaving like other folks.
The narrator eventually abandons his quest, saying that man "will not allow [himself] to be read" (215). He highlights that he can learn little or nothing else about him. The narrator here appears to just dismiss someone that will not match he predetermined classifications. This eventual disregard for the peculiarity of the old man again demonstrates there is absolutely no true individuality in the town. If other people such as this man cannot be classified, they are most likely simply ignored; in place they don't exist. So, essentially there are no individuals.
The tale starts by saying that it's "a great misfortune, never to have the ability to be by themselves. " The narrator in "Man of the Audience" is surrounded by a city filled with people, struggling to be by itself, though is truly isolated from them. Through the observations made by this narrator, it is obvious that the same isolation pertains to every other member of population in London; no one knows anyone else and, in that sense, everyone is isolated. Though, these people are not together in that do not require are distinguishable from a larger group. Each individual is thought as being part of an organization within the masses and as part of the crowd generally. It really is this lack of individuality that provides so this means to the vagueness name "THE PERSON in the Group. "
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