Edgar Allan Poe Mental Illness

1235 Words3 Pages
Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most prolific, acclaimed writers known today. His various, diverse writings have been studied, discussed and analyzed by many. Many of his works, from his poem “The Raven”, to his short story “The Cask of Amontillado” are extremely well-known and highly regarded. His writings are known in particular for their melancholy and often gruesome themes. Who is the man behind the literature that had become so much a part of today’s culture? What experiences may he have drawn upon in order to create his many masterpieces? Edgar Allan Poe’s mental illness impacted his life in many ways, and strongly influenced his works.
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, to David and Elizabeth Poe, both actors, in Boston,
…show more content…
Poe was described by teachers as “mischievous” and “excitable… with a great deal of self-esteem”, and at the same time very “defensive and threatened by negative comments” (Giammarco, 2012). He was a talented student, but had few friends, fearful of allowing others to get close to him. In 1826, Poe attended the University of Virginia, which was described as a “hostile environment”, with altercations breaking out frequently (Giammarco, 2012). Additionally, Poe’s foster father provided him with little money, so he struggled with significant poverty as well. It was during his time at the University when Poe developed serious drinking and gambling problems, incurring over two thousand dollars in debt (Giammarco, 2012). His foster father refused to assist him financially, so out of fear of debt collectors and possible imprisonment, Poe dropped out of the University and moved to Baltimore with intent to join the army (Giammarco, 2012). He soon had his first book of poems, “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, published, under the pseudonym “A Bostonian” (The Chronology, 2010). In 1827, Poe joined the army, and he was eventually promoted to the position of Sergeant-Major. His foster mother passed away from chronic illness during his service, prompting his release from the military in 1829 (The Chronology, 2010). Poe’s foster father refused to assist him financially, so a…show more content…
His drinking, gambling, dropping out of school to join the army, and frequent firing, are clear examples of such behavior (Giammarco, 2012). He additionally displayed narcissistic tendencies; as mentioned above, Poe was described as having a high self-esteem, but was simultaneously defensive and argumentative. Poe continued to drink heavily throughout his life despite his declining health, and was descried by many as “chronically melancholic, acquiring the nickname ‘the man who never smiles’” (Giammarco,

More about Edgar Allan Poe Mental Illness

Open Document