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Edgar Allen Poe - Research Paper Example

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The great and influential American writer, Edgar Allan Poe, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809, was interesting, mysterious, and controversial, both during his life and even after his death. He has had a profound influence on our culture, and not just in the genres of literature, including Gothic literature, detective fiction, and science fiction, he either invented or expanded…
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Edgar Allen Poe

Download file to see previous pages... Poe was orphaned early in life. His parents, David Poe, Jr. and Elizabeth, who were both actors, named their second son after a character in the Shakespeare play “King Lear.”1 His mother died of consumption (tuberculosis) shortly after his father abandoned the family when Edgar was a baby, so he lived with his foster family the Allans in Richmond, Virginia. His foster father, John Allan, was a successful Scottish businessman. The Allans never formally adopted Poe, but gave him his name “Edgar Allan Poe.” Poe was the first American to seriously attempt to make a living solely as a writer. He had some success, but struggled financially most of his life. Some of his biographers, who either hated him or wanted to use him as an example to support the temperance movement, said that Poe suffered from alcoholism, or as they called it back then, dipsomania, which is the uncontrollable desire for alcohol. The publishing industries in the early 1800s in America made it difficult for writers to earn a living, so Poe supported his family with a short military career and by editing several literary magazines. He earned just $9 for his poem “The Raven”(1845), even though it gave him instant fame. Poe married his 13-year old first cousin, Virginia Clemm, when he was 26. Virginia was ill throughout most of their marriage, and finally died of tuberculosis in 1847. Virginia’s illness and early death deeply affected Poe. Many biographers state that Poe turned to alcohol during her long illness and months following her death, although the severity of his drinking is a controversial issue debated both during his lifetime and by modern biographers (Silverman 183). One of Poe’s early biographers, Joseph W. Krutch, writing in 1924, stated that Virginia “was the only woman whom he ever loved” (57). One of Poe’s favorite themes in his poetry and tales is the death of a beautiful woman, which Poe called “the most poetical topic in the world” (Silverman 295). Many of his stories and poems were influenced by the many losses in his life, including the deaths of his mother Eliza Poe and foster mother Frances Allan, and especially his wife Virginia’s early death. Much of his work is believed to reflect Virginia’s long struggle with tuberculosis, as well as her eventual death. One of Poe’s most famous poems, “Annabel Lee” (Poe 477-478), which depicts a dead young bride and her mourning lover, is most likely inspired by Virginia. Like other women in Poe’s works, Annabel Lee is struck with illness and marries young, but unlike in Poe’s “The Raven,” in which the narrator states that he will “nevermore” be reunited with his love, the narrator in “Annabel Lee” believes that they will be together again and that they can never truly be apart, since not even demons “can ever dissever” their souls. Virginia is also seen in some of Poe’s prose works, including the short story “Eleonara,” which he wrote in 1842, when she was beginning to show signs of her illness. The narrator of “Eleonara,” for example, is preparing to marry his cousin. “The Oblong Box” (1844), another short story that was probably inspired by Virginia, focuses on a man mourning his young wife while transporting her corpse by boat and was written after Poe took a similar trip by boat to New York City with his dying wife. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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