Thesis: Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most influential, yet misunderstood writers in American Literature.
I. His Early Life
A. His Adoption
B. His Education
II. His Later Life
A. Books Published
B. Military Life
III. The Conclusion of His Life
A. His Marriage
B. His Death
IV. His Works
V. What Others Thought Of Him
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, known as a poet and critic but most famous as the first master of the short story form, especially tales of the mysterious and macabre. Since his early death, the literary qualities of Poe's writings have been disputed, but his works have remained popular and he influenced many major American and European writers.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe was orphaned in his early childhood and was raised by John Allan, a successful businessman of Richmond, Virginia. Taken by the Allan family to England at the age of six, Poe was enrolled in a private school. Upon returning to the United States in 1820, he continued to study in private schools. He attended the University of Virginia for a year, but in 1827 his foster father, displeased by the young man's drinking and gambling, refused to pay his debts and forced Poe to work as a bookkeeper. (Anderson, 9-22).
Poe quit this job, which infuriated John Allan. Poe then left and moved to Boston. There he published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems. After this, Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a two-year term. Poe published his second book of poems, Al Araaf in 1829. Poe then reunited with Allan, who obtained him an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. After only a few months at the academy, Poe was dismissed for neglect of duty, and John Allan disowned him permanently (Anderson, 23-34).
Poe's third book, Poems, was published in 1831. One year later, he moved to Baltimore, where he moved in with his aunt and her 11-year-old daughter, Virginia Clemm. The following year his tale "A MS. Found in a Bottle" won a contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. In 1835, Poe received a job as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. He held this job until 1837. In 1836, he married his young cousin, Virginia (Anderson, 35-44). Throughout the next decade, much of which was marred by his wife's long illness, Poe worked as an editor for various periodicals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in New York City. In 1847, Virginia died and Poe himself became ill; his disastrous addiction to liquor and his alleged use of drugs, may have contributed to his early death (Anderson, 123).
About a dozen of Poe's poems are remarkable for their flawless literary construction and for their haunting themes and meters. In "The Raven," for example, melancholy and omens of death overwhelm the narrator (Collected Tales, 943). "Lenore" mourns the death of a beautiful young woman (Collected Tales, 946). Poe's extraordinary manipulation of rhythm and sound is particularly evident in "The Bells," a poem that seems to echo with the...