Review of “The Imp of the Perverse” (1845)
Edgar Allan Poe (writer).
Read in 2022.
Following a pseudophilosophical essay about the older theory of the Imp of the Perverse, the narrator describes his own obsessive-compulsive confession to a more rational murder.
Poe was a self-destructive man and often featured self-destructive men in his stories, such as “The Oval Portrait” (1842). Poe’s criminals tend especially to invite disaster, as when the protagonists of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843) and “The Black Cat” (1843) both stand where they have hidden the bodies of their victims. This short story seems to conflate that dramatic device with the real-world psychological phenomena of reactance and power plays.