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The Life and Writings of Edgar Allan Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe, is one of the most brilliant literary writers in history. He wrote many poems and short stories throughout his rather short lifetime, most of which encompassed such themes as death, destruction, and madness. These intriguing, and often frightening tales, as well as his clever use of a multitude of literary tactics, is what set him apart from the rest, and what makes him so popular still today. Reading his work, one is sure to wonder where these ideas came from. However, a little research into past will certainly open the doors to a better understanding of his writing.

Abandoned as an infant by his father, Poe lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of three, and was sent to live with foster parents. There he was raised but never adopted. Also, his relationship with his foster father was quite tumultuous. Shortly after their death, he married his cousin Virginia Clemm, who also ended up contracting tuberculosis and died after a long hard battle with the disease. This had a very hard impact on Poe. Furthermore, it is known that Poe also had a serious problem with alcohol, as well as there are reports that he likely suffered from a mental illness, as evidenced by a letter he wrote stating that he had tried to commit suicide (Quinn 1998). Also, throughout his life, Poe struggled to be a writer, though his ways always ended up keeping him from achieving, while he was alive, what he was capable of. As one can see, Poe lived a life that was defined by death, hardship, and his own possible insanity. This makes it much more clear as to why he chose such dark themes for his works.

The two stories that will be discussed in this paper are “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” which were both published in 1843 in T...

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...her, it is the eye of the cat, which he gouges out (Piggush 2010).

These themes of untimely death, blood, and insanity are prevalent throughout his works. Even some of the works that are about love, involve some sort of twisted necromancy, such as in “Annabel Lee.” His focus on death was extreme, as he explored all aspects of it including the act itself, the burial (sometimes premature), and the subsequent mourning thereafter. Much of this likely had to do with the unfortunate and often tragic losses he dealt with throughout his life, and just as many of his characters often face the loss of their sanity, so does it seem to be the case with Poe.

Works Cited

Piggush, Yvette, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,18, 2,

2010.

Quinn, Arthur, Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography, Baltimore, Maryland: John

Hopkins University Press, 1998.
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