Do you like mysterious and intriguing short stories? Perhaps you enjoy people-watching? Or maybe you are visiting a large city soon? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then The Man of the Crowd by Edgar Allan Poe is the right story for you.
The story begins with an unnamed narrator in an unnamed café in London observing the passing crowd, noticing particular features of both individuals and masses of people. As he continues his observations of the people on the street, he notices one man in particular who holds an expression of which he has never seen before. This feeble, old man fascinates the narrator, who quickly leaves the café hoping to learn more of the peculiar man by following him.
Throughout the night and into the next day, the narrator follows the old man through busy streets, side streets, and shops, taking the same route many times, and usually walking very fast. In the end, the narrator is wildly amazed by the strange old man and stops following him, concluding that the old man is one of “deep crime” who “refuses to be alone,” naming him “the man of the crowd.”
I highly recommend this story because of how it changed my perception of people that usually go unnoticed. One thing I have observed growing up in Washington, D.C. is the amount of creepy and odd people that roam the streets, especially at night. They are always there, but I never put much thought into them. Instead, I just pass them off as more of those unnamed city dwellers. When reading about the man of the crowd, it made me wonder what it would be like to follow some of those people that I often see on the streets of cities. Would they walk all night and into the next day too? How many of them are dangerous criminals? Or were they looking at me asking themselves the same questions? Whatever the answers may be, The Man of the Crowd is a story that raised my awareness of the countless mysterious souls we are surrounded by, and their possible outlandish behaviors.
If you are looking for a story that will possibly change your attitude towards people who you generally pass off as “just more city dwellers” then The Man of the Crowd is the answer. It has the power to change your perception of people you often don’t think much about, and will also quite possibly make you a bit more cognizant of the fact that some of those people are more dangerous than they appear!
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