April 14, 2014
The Forlorn Life of Edgar Allan Poe
From the beginning, the works of writers have reflected the interests and pasts of their authors. One author that exemplifies the statement above is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was a complex man with a dark past and fascination with the human mind. His works reflect the things going on in the world and in his own mind. Poe developed his characters based on complex ideas and emotions. Poe's childhood was unorthodox, and he struggled with depression and addiction until his death. The events in Poe's life, as well as his background, heavily influenced both the tone and content of his writings. His works are considered classic literature and continue to reach the minds of readers from all walks of life. Readers are able to see how the deeply painful and depressing experiences Poe endured in his life affected and influenced his writings, such as "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," and "The Masque of Red Death."
On January 19, 1809, Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His life was an “unremitting disaster” it seems from day one (Doctorow 241). At only a year old, Poe's sister died, driving his father to abandon the family. A year later, his mother died of tuberculosis.
Being orphaned before the age of three, he was fostered by the Allan family, but they never adopted him. He did, however, add their surname to his own years later. After a year marked with misbehavior involving drunkenness and a gambling debt, his foster father pulled him out of Virginia University. Shortly after this, he joined the military. When his stint in the military was over, Poe moved in with his aunt and cousin, the Clemms. He soon married the young
Virginia Clemm, who was only thirteen at the time. She died of tuberculosis after twelve years of marriage. Her death lead Poe into madness. After a suicide attempt in 1848, Poe was found incoherent and wandering the city in October of 1849. He died only a day later, and the actual cause of death is still a mystery.
Poe's works were considered, and still are today by some, autobiographical in a sense because readers can find him in all of his works. Others considered his works to be drawn from his dreams because they are so “horror ridden” (Doctorow 242). Poe's fascinations are what influenced his writings to be dark and dreary. One thing that fascinated Poe was psychology and the dark corners of subconsciousness. He particularly liked to explore topics like madness, imagination, and self-destruction. Poe was also preoccupied with death, malachy, love, and beauty. The recurring theme for most of his poems is death of beautiful women. For example, in "The Raven," Poe believed the narrator should be the dead woman's lover because he would be the one most deeply affected by her death. Also, "Annabel Lee" is acknowledged as a tribute to his childhood bride and cousin, Virginia Clemm. Poe's works also reflected his state of mind, along with his attitude toward the occurrences going on in the world. "The Masque of Red
Death" is an allegory for the struggle society faced during the outbreak of tuberculosis, described by the black death in the Renaissance period, symbolized by the Red Death. The Red Death breaches the confines of the party and quickly and violently kills everyone in its wake, just as tuberculosis did to the women he loved in his life.
Despite the fact that the odds were slim and some people like Pessoa say that there "are not many good poems by Edgar Poe," Poe still pursued a writing career and is now considered a classic author (Monteiro 136). Poe's characterization of emotions and abstracts as people extended his metaphors into allegories, allowing him to tell two stories in one- the truth and the
entertainment. In "Annabel Lee," the reader can see the pain in Poe's tone. According to Robert
Albrecht, "... the text appears at first glance to be an innocent tale of a lost childhood…