Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe's life problems had a profound impact on his various short stories and poems. Poe's problems started seemingly right after birth. His biological father, David Poe, Jr., was an alcoholic and often abused Poe (Encyclopedia Americana, 274-275). Shortly after the age of two, Poe's mother died. He only had memories of her vomiting and being carried away by "sinister men dressed in black", as he put it (American Writers III). There has been some speculation as to how this affected Poe. According to Marie Bonaparte, a student of Sigmund Freud, his mother's death caused many mental disorders. Many agree that it warped him until the day he died. After his mother's death, Poe was taken into the home of his godfather, John Allen, and his wife. It is believed that John continued to abuse Poe as his father did.
At the age of seventeen, Poe attended the University of Virginia for a short time. His godfather couldn't afford all of the tuition fees, and Poe resorted to gambling as a means to earn money. From this he accumulated much debt and was forced to drop out of the university. He returned home, only to find that the girl he loved, Elmira Royster, had gotten married. He joined the army, but his godfather later purchased his release and helped him to enroll in West Point Military Academy. Again, Poe's godfather could not cover the costs, so again, Poe resorted to gambling. He acquired debts of over two thousand dollars, and was later expelled due to disciplinary problems. After this, Poe's godfather disowned him, and Poe never attempted to pursue any further education.
Poe began to publish many of his writings. Even though he did have some success, he still lived in poverty. When he was twenty-seven, Poe married his thirteen year old cousin, Virginia Clemm. During his marriage, Poe had several extramarital affairs with various women (Paley).
The biggest of Poe's life problems was alcoholism, which resulted in his being fired from over twelve journalism jobs. When his wife died in 1847, Poe resorted even further to alcohol.
"I had never swallowed opium before. Laudanum and morphine I had occasionally used, and about them should have had no reason to hesitate…I would take a very small dose in the first instance. I would repeat it until I should find an abatement of the fever." This passage, from Poe's short story, Life in Death, suggests Poe's drug use. It is known that for medical purposes, Poe used the drug opium, which was, at the time, an over-the-counter drug. It is speculated that he may have developed an abuse problem. The opium caused some side effects, and Poe may have used alcohol to try and counteract them, and possibly took opium to counteract the effects of alcohol, such as the fever mentioned in the previous passage.
It was extremely likely that Poe had various neurotic problems throughout life; neurotic instability was a trait that ran in his family (American Writers III). Marie...