Essay on Chemistry: Edgar Allan Poe and Poe

Submitted By lulliswag
Words: 1417
Pages: 6

Edgar Allen Poe has been one of the most influential and popular writers that America has ever given rise to. One hundred and fifty years after his death, Poe’s works continue to influence popular culture. Whether in movies; such as Vincent Price’s: The House of Usher, or in music where Poe’s face graces the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album, or in art, where numerous paintings have been influenced by Poe’s works. It does not take much to find his influence in everyday life. But as normal as that all seems, Poe had anything but a normal life, in fact tragic would be a more accurate description. One of Poe’s most haunting and disturbing works is his short story “The Black Cat.” Written in 1843, “The Black Cat” is filled with sinister imagery and a seemingly sadistic mentality possessed by the author. At first glance, the horrors of “The Black Cat” would appear to be the creation of a psychotic mind, but I will analyze the tragedies and addictions in Poe’s life, as well as the symbolism of the two cats in the story, and prove that the horrors of “The Black Cat” are actually the manifestations of the those tragic struggles Poe had experienced up to the point of him writing the story.
I will begin by taking a look at the relatively short life of Edgar Allen Poe and focusing in on those dreadful events that helped to construct the terrors of “The Black Cat.” Born in Boston in 1809, Edgar Allen Poe experienced death from an early age. Edgar’s mother had separated from her husband David Poe after moving to America from England, she then died shortly afterwards. Edgar was only two years old when he had his first encounter with death, and it was none other than his mother. Not long after Edgar’s mother died, Edgar was thrown into another dreadful situation when his father abandoned the family. This abandonment forced Edgar and his siblings to have to split up. Poe’s older brother Henry went to live with their grandparents while his sister was taken in by another relative (One would find it easy to imagine that just these two events alone at such an early age would have a devastating effect on most people). Finally, John Allen, a wealthy merchant from Richmond, VA informally adopted Edgar giving him the name Edgar Allen. Edgar resided here for much of his young life. In 1827, Poe enlisted in the military. After a few years of service, Poe was intentionally court marshaled, he then moved to Baltimore, MD. In 1831, he moved in with his aunt, older brother; Henry, and first cousin; Virginia Clemm. His brother Henry died of complications from alcoholism shortly after Poe had moved in. Henry’s death had a profound affect on Poe, launching him into a deep depression. Ironically, this is also when Poe began drinking heavily. By 1835, the 26-year-old Poe had fallen madly in love with his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm. Poe secretly married Virginia and they moved into their own home in Baltimore shortly afterwards. After a few years of marriage, at the age of twenty, Virginia had begun to show signs of tuberculosis, again causing great turmoil in Poe’s life. By the age of 32, the culmination of Virginia’s dwindling health, the death of Poe’s older brother, the separation of him and his siblings at such a young age, the abandonment of his father, and finally, the tragic loss of Poe’s mother when he was only two had all come to a self destructive head. Poe was in an emotional downward spiral and his drinking and possibly drug use (it is believed that Poe abused opiates around this time as well) became increasingly worse. Poe was often seen in the streets, probably intoxicated and reported as being “out of his mind” and “mad.” It was clear that by this time, the death and tragedies that Poe had experienced and was experiencing were seemingly pushing him to the edge. Of course the one outlet for stress, besides chemicals that Poe was famous for was writing. It was during this difficult time that Poe wrote