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Essay/Term paper: Poe's man in the crowd: types of people based on appearance

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Narrative Essays

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Poe's Man in the Crowd: Types of People Based On Appearance

Throughout life, clothing and body language are often utilized as
sources of emotional expression. These emotions can also be portrayed in
literaray works and artisitic displays, such as those of Poe, Baudelaire, Manet,
and Warhol. In Poe's "Man of the Crowd," there are several descriptions of
different types of people based on their appearances, but one particular man is
focused on by the narrator due to his unique appearance. Baudelaire's "The
Painter of Modern Life" emphasizes the emotional expressions of beauty and
fashion expressed in art. Manet is an artist who paints scenes to his liking.
All of his works were done in his studio and set up the way that he wanted them.
He holds a particular focus on men and women and the relationship between them.
The positions and clothing that the men and women are set up in hold strong
emotional implications about their feelings towards one another and the emotions
involved in the social setting.
The opening of "The Man of the Crowd," describes the emotions involved
in untold secrets and the deepest of crimes; there are internal conflicts,
struggles, anxieties, and agonous results due to the horror of the unsolvable
crimes. The possibility of these crimes is introduced through the man of the
crowd through his unseemingly unidentifiable expression The narrator describes
his thoughts of this man as:

There arose confusedly and paradoxically within my mind, the ideas of vast
mental power, of caution, of penuriousness, of avarice, of coolness, of malice,
of blood-thirtstiness, of triumph, of merriment, of excessive terror, of intense
- of supreme despair. I felt singularly aroused, startled, fascinated. "How
wild a history," I said to myself, "is written within that bosom!"

Although the narrator had never spoken to this man of the crowd, he was
compelled to follow him based on his expression that had never been viewed by
the narrator. He continued to follow the man of the crowd, noticing his
patterns of following people by the mass and his shambled cloting and he
concluded that he "[was] the type and genious of deep crime. He refuses to be

Prior to viewing the man of the crowd, the narrator observed several
different types of people, all of which were able to be "read" through their
outward appearances.. The most numerous amount of individuals were business men.
The first type of business men "[had] brows [that were knit, and their eyes
rolled quickly." They were also not distracted nor distraught when they were
pushed around by men of their sort. It was concluded by the narrator from these
characteristics that those men were content and "seemed to be thinking only of
making their way through the press." The second type of business men conveyed a
different type of body language; they were restless, had flushed faces, and
talked and motioned to thesmselves. Their motions would increase in number in
addition to an overdone smile, when they were jostled and they would bow
apologetically to the jostlers. Their movements indicated to the narrator that
they felt alone as a result of the large crowd surrounding them. These
movements sounded to me as though the business men were insecure in their
actions and motioned to themselves for purposes of reassurement. Their
apologetic motions were for purposes of acceptance of themselves to the rest of
the crowd. Both types of businessmen were concluded to be independent, "decent,"
and men who were responsible for conducting their own business. These men's
professions were also identified as noblemen, merchants, attorneys, tradesmen,
and stock-jobbers through their actions and body language.
Clerks were other individuals who were able to be recognized through
their outward appearances. The "junior" clerks were "young gentlemen with tight
coats, bright boots, well - oiled hair, and supercilious lips." They were also
perceived as frequently working at desks and it was concluded that they "were
the cast - off graces of the gentry." These men appear to be well groomed and
wearing the latest fashions. They are trying to impress others and the "deskism"
described by the narrator shows that they are hard workers. The supercilious
lips of the clerks places an emphasis upon the clerk's mouths. This is
important because the clerks use the words from their mouths to sell and to make
an impression upon others. They appear to be aggresive because of their
supercilious lips and their bold clothing. They also appear to be ambitious due
to the appearance of them constantly working at desks. The "upper clerks" were

"known by their coats and pantaloons of black or brown, made to sit comfortably,
with white cravats and waistcoats, broad solid looking shoes, and thick hose or
gaiters. They had all slightly bald heads, from which the right ears, long used
to pen holding, had an odd habit of standing off on end."

They also always used both hands when handling their hars, and "wore watches,
with short gold chains of a substantial and ancient pattern." The "upper" clerks
are older men and also wear older clothing. Because their pants were "made to
sit comfortably," they appear to be relaxed men. Their "solid looking shoes"
imply that they want good durability and that they are sensible in their
clothing, and probably in life. Their overall appearance is one of
responsibility and stability; they don't need new clothing because they have
already established themselves.
The gamblers were easily identified through their clothing and body
language. The first type of gamblers wore the clothing of "the desperate,
thimble - rig bully, with velvet waistcoat, fancy neckerchief, gilt chains, and
filagreed buttons." They also had "long locks and smiles." The clothing of the
first type of gambler was seen as "desperate," thus describing a negative
emotion of gamblers. Their elaborate clothing can be viewed as an effort to
display their ostentatiousness and a method of hiding their shame. The second
type of gambler was described as "that of the scrupulously inornate clergyman."
He is probably one who is more reserved and possibly less fascinated with the
night life of gambling or less willing to show his involvement in gambling.
Both types of gamblers were able to be "distinguished by a certain sodden
swarthiness of complexion, a filthy dimness of eye, and pallor and compression
of lip." The gambler's complexion can be thought of as showing the sulleness of
their whereabouts. The compression of their lips can be viewed as a repression
of decency. The other characteristics identified with the gamblers were "a
guarded lowness of tone in conversation, and a more than ordinary extension of
the thumb in a direction at right angles with the fingers." These
characterisitics appear to be defensive motions, thus showing their wariness of
Like Poe, Baudelaire also describes emotions through body language and
clothing. In addtition, beauty is a trait that is heavily focused upon. The
beauty of the soldier is described because:

"Accustomed as he is to surprises, the soldier does not easily lose his
composure. Thus, in this case, beauty will consist of a carefree, martial air,
a strange mixture of calm and boldness; it is a form of beauty that comes from
the need to be ready to die at any moment. But the face of the ideal military
man must be stamped with a great air of simplicity; ... soldiers are, in many
matters, as simple as children; and like children, once duty has been done, they
are easy to amuse, and given to boisterous forms of fun."

The beauty that the soldier possesses is primarily through his emotional
qualities. The soldier has a facade of courageousness, peacefulness, and
lightheartedness. Baudelaire also mentions the "martial air" of the soldier,
which emphasizes the setting and the clothing of the soldier. He also states
that the "ideal" military man must have a "simple" facial expression.
Although it is difficult to determine the wants and needs of a "simple" face,
Baudelaire does so by determining the personalities and thoughts of the soldier
and by comparing him with a child. Earlier on in "The Painter of Modern Life,"
Baudelaire describes children with praise as living life as though they are
drunk, with a certain kind of happiness. The soldier is identified with this
hapinness because of his simple facial expression.
The description of the facial expression is dexcribed more specifically
by Baudelaire as he observes one of the drawings of the soldier. Baudelaire is
unsure of what mission the soldier is on, but describes him as "the steadfast
audacious character, even in repose, of all these sun-tanned, weather-beaten
faces." Baudelaire then states that this is the expression molded by hard work,
afflicted pain, and firmness. He then describes the clothing as:

"trousers turned up and tucked into gaiters, great-coats tarnished by dust and
vaguely discolored, the whole equipment in fact has itself taken on the
indestructible appearance of beings that have returned from afar, and have
experienced strange adventures." The clothing is characterisitic of the soldier;
the tarnished and dusty clothing adds to the soldier's experiences in the
battlefield and to the distances that the soldier has travelled. The emotional
characteristics of the soldiers are thus bounded by their clothing and facial
Soldiers have a beauty that is very evident to Baudelaire, but women
possess a different type of beauty. In order to elaborate their beauty it is
essential for women to wear makeup. Without makeup, women look natural and
Baudelaire states that nature portrays all of the evils in humans. Nature is
vicious and "counsels crime." Makeup brings out the goodness in women and
hides the evils of nature. Baudelaire describes virtue as "artificial" and "
superficial". He also says that "evil is done without effort, naturally, it is
the working of fate; good is always the product of an art." He believes that
applying makeup is an art and it is thus decent for women to wear. He also
describes makeup as "fostering a magic and supernatural aura about her
appearance." He also says that they must:

borrow, from all the arts, the means of rising above nature, in order the better
to conquer the hearts and impress the minds of men. It matters very little that
the ruse and artifice be known of all, if their success is certain, and the
effect always irresistible.

Thus makeup is necessary to attract men in a way that almost tricks them without
them even knowing it. Baudelaire describes rice powder as conceiling all of
blemishes that nature delivers to women and "creat[ing] an abstract unity of
texture and colour in the skin," and questions if woman then becomes a "divine
or superior being." Black eye pencils and rouge add to the dramatic effects of
the colors of red and black. The black gives women " a deeper and stranger
look" and red "gives to a woman's face the mysterious passion of a priestess."
Makeup is thus adding a divine or religious appeal to women due to its degradation
of nature. Baudelaire also states that makeup is not meant to be applied naturally
and should be used as a method of exhibition of their beauty. Although Baudelaire
does not describe the actions of women in the section of makeup, he clearly
praises women who wear makeup because of their holy nature and uncriticalness.
Monet is able to express several emotions through his paintings,
particularly through the arrangement and the depiction of the subjects in his
work. In In The Conservatory, Manet focuses on the relationship between the man
and the woman. The woman is properly dressed with buttons vertically lined up
through her dress, thus constricting her presense. She has a fixed gaze and is
not looking at the man. Although she is sitting comfortably, the woman has a
rigid appearance. The man is leaning over towards her and is dressed like a
dandy. The expressions on their faces and the way the man is leaning over the
woman and looking at her appears as though he is pleading for forgiveness or
attention. The rims of her eyes are red adding the possibility of her crying
and an emphasis is placed upon their hands, which both contain wedding rings,
suggesting that they are a married couple with problems.


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