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Edgar Allan Poe Essay

1468 words - 6 pages

Edgar Allan PoeEdgar Allan Poe, an American writer, born January 19, 1809, has received conflicting criticism as a morbid explorer of the dark side as well as a rebel hero. David Herbert Lawrence says of Poe, "Poe had a pretty bitter doom. Doomed to seethe down his soul in a great continuous convulsion of disintegration, and doomed to register the process" (Bloom 21). Poe's life of doom, much of which was self-inflicted, is reflected in his short stories. Aspects of his personality are evident in his writing, although most readers read his works for enjoyment. His compulsive, self-destructive tendencies are addressed in "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Mask of the Red Death," while he defends himself in the humorous story "Never Bet the Devil Your Head." All three stories, however, deal with death and reflect the tragedy in his life.Doom struck early in Poe's life when his parents, both touring actors, died before his third birthday. He was taken into the home of John Allan, a Richmond, VA merchant and was allowed to study for five years in England. In 1926 he entered the University of Virginia but stayed only a year since he ran up large gambling debts. He briefly attended West Point, where he earned a military rank and published a book of poems. When Poe arranged his dismissal from West Point, the Allan's disinherited him. His literary career Johnson 2 continued as he worked for and was fired from several magazines while publishing poems, short stories, and literary criticisms. He was rumored to use opium and alcohol.He married his thirteen-year-old cousin and was left despondent when she died of a harrowing illness. He was found unconscious on a Baltimore street in 1849. In a brief obituary a Baltimore newspaper reported that Poe died of "congestion of the brain." Perhaps as an escape for life's doom, Poe used his creativity and imagination to craft his short stories. In the literary criticism Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Buranelli states "Poe was the type who has to escape from the vulgarities of life on occasion or else go mad. Like many other artists, he turned to his imagination for something better than a world of office politics, boarding-house landladies, social snubs, hounding debts, and the cash nexus. His imagination took some peculiar twists, not always at his bidding, but at least it provided him with materials that he could work up into literature" (Buranelli 20). His imagination took a peculiar twist when he created one of his most famous short stories, "The Tell-Tale Heart." Buranelli says of the story that it "has a horrible obsessive murder for its theme, and follows the development of the theme step by step with the realism that, barring the writing genius, might be a case history from twentieth-century psychiatry" (Buranelli 75). Poe's opening sentence, "True!--nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?" (Poe 799) immediately...

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