The Women Of Edgar Allan Poe

1670 words - 7 pages

"Behind the women in Poe's life and those he created in his stories glows always Elizabeth Poe's [his mother] pale beauty idealized; and the terrible sickness which infused it became the thrilling and dangerous, but romantic and essential, compassion of love." --Wolf MankowitzEdgar Allan Poe has shocked and intrigued his audience since his days at the University of Virginia. He defined the American horror story with his tales of revenge, murder, and spirits who return to the mortal world. Despite the unpredictability of Poe's works, how with every page a new horror arises, there is a predictable and prevailing theme in many of his short stories and poems -the dependence of male a character on a woman and the eventual illness and death of that woman. This theme is so strong in all of Poe's works, that we must assume that it has some close connection to his own story, and his history of relationships with women.Imagine a woman in the early 19th century. She has dark curly hair, huge dark eyes, and pale skin. She is wearing a shimmering gown with flowers in her hair and gossamer wings on her back. Now, think of this image through the eyes of a child, two or three years old, who watches this women from the front row in a theatre every night, as she plays a spirit in a mysterious new land. The next night, as that child sits in his same seat, the woman is transformed into Juliet, and stabs herself. Night after night the blood pours from her chest, the audience members weep, and after the curtains close, the bloodstained Juliet carries her son home and puts him to bed (Mankowitz 17).This was the young Edgar Poe's experience of his mother, Elizabeth Poe. Along with the magic that surrounded her fairy's wings and repeated resurrection, was the love and tenderness that she showed to Edgar, and the resulting selfishness he felt for her (14). When his mother finally died for the last time, from pneumonia when he was a month shy of three, Edgar was given into the care of Mrs. Allan, the barren wife of a wealthy merchant (who was not particularly fond of the idea of adoption). Just like Poe's own mother had been, his foster mother was hopelessly devoted to pleasing him, and he became hopelessly addicted to her love (20-23). Through his adolescence Poe fell deeply in love with and became dependant on many mother figures--first his mother, then Mrs. Allan his foster mother, and finally, the mother of a friend, Mrs. Standard. Along with these relationships were fleeting romances with girls his own age while in school -all who were more like muses to him than loves, inspiring his first poems (29). Before he was twenty-one, Poe had lost all three of these most important women in his life, was feeling lost, and was rejected by his foster father and new foster-step-mother.Now we have Edgar, out of his unloving foster father's home, living with an aunt and her daughter Virginia, and trying to make a name for himself as a magazine editor (Wilson). When he is 27, Poe...

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