Sample Philosophy Paper on The Philosophy of Composition

Of all Edgar Allan Poe’s works, The Philosophy of Composition” stands out as the most interesting. Poe’s application of tone and establishment of unity in his works gives his work a unique element that can only be copied by other authors (Person 1990). The philosophy of composition in a great way is an essay written to prove why Poe’s poem The Raven is a correctly written poem and also to justify the choices he made while writing it. The most worth noting aspect in the essay is the argument Poe makes about how a successful writer should write. Poe names several aspects which he argues are the cornerstones of a successful writing career. The aspects that make a good writer, according to Poe, are length, unity of effect, and use of a logical method.

The elements are highlighted concerning the process Poe uses to write his famous poem The Raven Poe’s argument about a good writer’s elements is a great and intentional contrast to the creation explanation whose main proponent was Samuel Coleridge, the writer of Kubla Khan. Besides, Poe further adds that a beautiful woman’s death is the greatest poetic topics of all time (Wilson 1926: Weekes 2002)). About Poe’s argument, one can note that most of his works, especially poems and short stories, use the same trope in which he states to be a great writer’s determining factors.

The first aspect of his argument entails length. The argument impounds that literary works should be brief and, thus, short in length. Poe argues that all literary works have some certain form of limit, which is distinguishable. Poe adds that if a literary work cannot be read easily in pone sitting, then it is not suitable for consumption, which is a common problem with many authors as per Poe’s account. Edgar Allan Poe thus advises writers to have a length proportional to the merit of the subject of discussion. All in all, the length selected should be long enough to bring about an effect.

After selecting the most suitable length for their work, Poe adds that authors must then pick themes acceptable to everyone. Again, in addition to that, the writing should be systematic and make use of analysis.

The last aspect Poe entails in his argument of how a good writer should write entails the aspect of writing when one has already decided about how the writing will end. And also, decide how to align the story with the required emotional response—wished to be created by the author. Poe refers to this aspect as the ‘unity effect.’ Poe advises “good writers” to also make decisions about the tone, theme, settings, plot and other aspects incorporated in their works. The poem further exclaims that a writer who takes heed of the requirements he highlights creates “richness.

The illustration of the poem The Raven is essential in giving a logical following of the rules mentioned in the essay, the Philosophy of Composition every rule. However, there is a significant contradiction between what Poe advises and what he uses inches works.  Despite the different perceptions of his use or failure to use the guidelines listed in the essay. The essay has profoundly impacted the literary world, especially because some people have used it as the yardstick on which good art is measured against.

In “The Philosophy of Composition,” there is a detailed step to step explanation of the elements that make a good piece of literal work. The essay does deliver on the expectations readers can derive from the title. Poe does so by defining literature according to his theory and also impounds on the effect literature has when it attains the “unity of effect.”

The philosophy of composition lives to its name and has been lauded for its uniqueness and contribution to literary theory. The essay uses Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, the raven, to illustrate good writing skills. According to Poe, a good writer must incorporate and take heed of some elements into their work, such as length, unity of effect and logical method. However, Poe’s argument is faulted for not being particularly visible in some of Poe’s works. Therefore, the mismatch of word and action puts a cloud of doubt over the essay and its applicability. Nevertheless, the essay has been lauded for a significant contribution to the field of literary theory.




Person Jr, L.S., 1990. Poe’s Composition of Philosophy: Reading and Writing” The Raven.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory46(3), pp.1-15.

Weekes, Karen. “Poe’s feminine ideal,” collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge University Press, 2002. p. 149. ISBN 0-521-79727-6

Wilson, J. (1926). Poe’s Philosophy of Composition. The North American Review, 223(833), 675-684. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from