English Literature I
December 16th, 2010
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was born on 19 January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the son of the actors Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins and David Poe. After his parents died he and his siblings were separated and Poe was adopted by a wealthy merchant named John Allan and his wifeFrances Valentine in Richmond, Virginia. He started to write enough poetry to publish a book by the age of thirteen but his foster father didn’t allow him.
When he was young he traveled with his new family to England and studied in Chelsea. Then he returned to Richmond where he attended the University of Virginia and studied Latin and poetry. He had a lot of debts because he had issues with hisfoster father and because of this he left school to enlist in the United States Army where he served for two years. In 1827 he published his first book named “Tamerlane and Other Poems”. In 1829 when his foster mother died Poe accomplished her deathbed wish and reconcile with his stepfather briefly. In this year he also published his second book “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems”.
In 1831Poe moved to Baltimore with his aunt Maria Clemm, mother of his fiancée Virginia Eliza Clemm who became his wife at the age of thirteen. Living in poverty he started publishing his short stories with which he won a contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. In 1835 he became editor and contributor of the Southern Literary Messenger where was the start of his career as critic and essayist.But there was another tragedy for him in 1842 when his wife contracted tuberculosis, the same disease that killed his mother, brother and foster mother.
In January 1845 “The Raven and Other Poems” was published and made his famous enough to demand better pay for his work. After his wife died he became an alcoholic and a year later he got engaged with Elmira Royster. After that he disappearedfor five days and was found on Baltimore’s street in a horrible condition and died on October 7, 1849.
He was known as the inventor of the modern detective story and as the innovator of the science fiction genre but his reputation is mainly based on his tales of terror and his haunting lyric poetry.
The poem called “The Raven”, one of his most famous oeuvres, talks about a raven who talksthat visit a lonely man who has just lost his love Lenore. We can see in the poem how this man starts to get insane as the raven keeps repeating the word “Nevermore”. Poe wrote this poem after his wife died, he was influenced by a poem of Charles Dickens. In the last part the poem says:
“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above mychamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!” (Poe, Edgar Allan, 1845)
We think in this part the raven represents his pain not only for the lost of his wife, but from all his loses of hisbeloved ones. And we can say it seems that this pain was something that will last forever as the raven never left the room of the lonely man.
According to Alwin Templar ‘The fall of the House of Usher’ is, perhaps, to the tales of Edgar Allan Poe what 'The Raven' is to his poems: It is the most celebrated. It is a Gothic tale, Typically, he molded it into his own image so that nowadays we are moreinclined to see the tale as classic Poe rather than classically Gothic. And we can be aware of that at the end of this story when Poe wrote:
“From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could we have...