The Influences of Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe is one of America's most influential writers. His stories and poems have touched the lives of countless people. His works, however, are influenced by his own life. The events of his life led him down the dark road of depression and morbidity. Poe's emotional health began deteriorating when he was very young. His mother died of tuberculosis while he was still a very small child. Poe never forget her vomiting blood and being carried away by sinister men dressed in black (Unger 409). Although Poe was never formally adopted, John and Frances Allan took Poe in (Vinson 970) The couple sent him to boarding schools where he excelled in both academics and athletics. This time of bliss was short lived, however. Poe began to feel more and more insecure and estranged from his school mates because of his lowly origin. Poe also began to be more antagonistic towards Mr. Allan due to his love for his foster mother—an almost oedipal relationship—and the fact that Mr. Allan was a very harsh dictator. After his lonely years in grade school, he was sent to the University of Virginia in 1826. He studied French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin, and maintained an excellent scholastic record. Poe ran into trouble when Allan did not send enough money to pay for fees and other necessities. He took to drinking and gambling, accumulating debts in excess of $2,000. Needless to say, he dropped out of college only to enlist in the army as a common solider under the name of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed for a year on Sullivans Island in Charleston Harbor. Surprisingly, Poe adapted well to military discipline and quickly rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major, the highest non commissioned grade in the Army... ... middle of paper ... ...Cat", the main character is an alcoholic who exclaims "for what disease is like Alcohol" (Poe 224). In a drunken stupor, the man gouges out the cat's eye because he thought it was avoiding him. In "The Cask of Amontillado", Fortunato is lured to his death by the drug. Poe rarely uses alcohol in anything positive. The drug is usually used in association to destruction and anger. He retaliates against the drug and attacks it in his writings. His characters show his inability to enjoy the drug and his seeing it as an instrument of destruction. Poe died in 1849, but his memory did not die with him. His life influences influenced his writings which, in turn, influenced the lives of others. Through his pain and anguish, others have learned to appreciate the darker side of literature. Poe's works often show us how fine a line there is between sanity and madness.

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