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Humor in Edgar Allan Poes Some Words With a Mummy - Essay Example

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Summary
Some Words With a Mummy" is an unusual Edgar Allan Poe story in that it is replete with humor from start to finish. Although the narrator mocks himself too, the true butt of the humor seems to be the American society of his times. His sharpest missiles are aimed at those who would consider themselves superior because of their 'intellectual' pursuits or because of their privileged access to the heritage of Western science and culture…
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Humor in Edgar Allan Poes Some Words With a Mummy

Download file to see previous pages... A symposium having wearied him into a drowsy headache, the narrator resolves to go to bed early with "just a mouthful of supper." The 'mouthful' proves a gargantuan one, consisting of four or five pounds of Welsh rabbit and at least five bottles of Brown Stout. The narrator drolly insists that after this "frugal meal" he went to bed hoping to sleep till noon the next day. Quite apart from the intention of entertaining the reader with his wit, the narrator probably also wishes to suggest that the ensuing story could have been a dream engendered by the extraordinary evening meal and his state of unusual weariness.
The narrator wittily complains that ere he had completed his "third snore" he was awakened by the doorbell and was given an urgent message from his friend Dr Ponnonner. The doctor had secured permission from the Directors of the City Museum to open and examine a mummy, and he invited his friend to the examination at eleven, that evening at his house. Excited and ecstatic, "overthrowing all in my way", dressing himself "with a rapidity truly marvellous", the narrator set off, at the top of his speed, to the doctor's.
An eager party of scientists and historians standing around Dr Ponnonner's dining table, on which the mummy had been placed, eagerly awaited the narrator. The outer box was opened to reveal hieroglyphical characters-probably the mummy's name. The narrator records, tongue-in-cheek, that these were translated by Mr Gliddon to represent the word "Allamistakeo." Not one of the assembled party of scholars comments on the humor of this appellation. The narrator, however, seems confident that the lay reader of his story will get the joke, for he does not make the mistake of underscoring the obvious. This is, doubtless, a dig at the blinkered vision of the new trend of specialist scholars.
The puerility of the scholars is again highlighted in their idiotic experiment of introducing electrical current to the mummy's body ("about one-tenth in earnest and nine-tenths in jest") and their fright at the first unexpected reaction to it. The narrator calls attention to the fact that the mummy's wide-open eyes were now half- closed. He was not alarmed by this occurrence, he says, but he admits that were it not for the five bottles of Brown stout he had consumed, he "might have been a little nervous."
As for his scholarly friends,
they really made no attempt at concealing the downright fright which possessed them. Doctor Ponnonner was a man to be pitied. Mr. Gliddon, by some peculiar process, rendered himself invisible. Mr. Silk Buckingham, I fancy, will scarcely be so bold as to deny that he made his way, upon all fours, under the table.
With all the stupidity of scholarship, they continue their juvenile researches after the initial shock. They now apply the electric current to the great toe of the mummy's right foot. The mummy's immediate reflex bestowed a sturdy kick on Dr Ponnonner, "discharging that gentleman, like an arrow from a catapult, through a window into the street below."
The doctor's friends mournfully go down to collect his "mangled remains" but Ponnonner himself rushing up "in an unaccountable hurry, brimful of the most ardent philosophy", meets them on the way, eager as ever to continue the experiment. Dr Ponnonner now takes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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