Essay on Edgar Allen Poe’s Life Influence on His Writings

Published: 2021/12/01
Number of words: 1255


The growth and development process of Edgar Allen Poe’s life offered very depressing experiences, such as the death of his entire family. In turn, psychological and mental challenges he underwent were successfully presented through dark stories that resonated with horror literature that was an emerging theme during the early 2o century in America. Through the separation of the ingenious poet and author from his parents and siblings at birth, he suffered a lack of formal and personal identity, leading to a period of wandering by ascribing into the military, doing manual jobs for survival and ending up as an editor for The Southern Literary Messenger. 

The poet sought to contribute to literature works through original imagination, presenting the tragedies of losing his family to “Black Death as he presented in the Red Death” (Dean, and Boyd, p486). Through a gothic medium in poetry and short stories, Edgar Allen Poe was capable of producing the unique and creepy style of presenting social and daily events, hence indicating psychological and mental influences to his diverse works of literature (Taylor, p196). In one of the short stories published by Edgar Allen Poe, he recounts and narrates the image of a state that is overwhelmed by a deadly plague called the Red Death. The first person recounts of character suffering resonate with his family’s challenges and lack of experiencing paternal and maternal affection as a child. However, his narration in the first person of the Red Death correlated with events of the Black Plague that decimated Europe centuries earlier, manifesting his ability to propagate dark stories and events as a form of original imagination.

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Quarantined victims of the Red Death were a form of subconscious presentation of his family’s suffering and decimation by tuberculosis. In the short story, he narrates types of pain and suffering that victims endured, including “horrible pain and dizziness…” due to lack of medical attention and accompanying social stigmatization of the sick during the Black Plague (Dean, and Boyd, p486). His personal experience of social stigmatization was compared to cruel human suffering, such as blood seeping profusely from your pores without end, indicating impending and unavoidable death. Tuberculosis as a common theme in the stories was an indication of failure to manage post-traumatic stress disorder since the loss of his mother, foster mother, and wife all died of complications from the untreated disease.

A curious and recurrence theme in the sad and dark stories of Edgar Allen Poe is the recounting of beautiful young women suffering and dying from various misfortunes. In a successful poem such as “Annabel Lee,” the poet narrates the ultimate death of the female character later believed to be representing his wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (Li, p176). His inability to accept death as fate made the author attribute death as emanating from seraphim, a subconscious displacement of blame, and whishing eternal life for his dead wife.

In another narration in The Fall of the House of Usher, the poet offers descriptions of mysterious and gothic creatures, an indication of his struggles with isolation and developing forms of madness. It was evident that characters in “The Fall of the House of Usher” were a form of displacement, juxtaposing his good personality attributes as the victims in the narration, and antisocial behaviors in the way of the hounding and living house as a form of gothic creature (Szabo, and Crişan, p63). Furthermore, the poet was fond of presenting characters suffering and dying through a strange and horrible way that resorts to horror literature.

Poe’s dark themes allude to his life as a struggling and remorseful alcohol, wishing to drown away the cruelties of life and inevitability of death in his life. In the short story “The Black Cat”, the first-person narrator offers an extremely cruel explanation of a character mistreating and cutting the throat of a cat, an indication of forms of mental aggression and inability to control unethical and immoral behavioral impulses by the author (Taylor, p211). In the narration of mistreating the cat, the author communicates of personal challenges with depression and madness, while seeking to inform the public of his plight despite lack of intervention by friends and the audience. In return, Edgar Allen Poe sank into more alcoholism while juxtaposing his sufferings through alcoholic characters in The Black Cat, as published in 1845.

Despite suffering from personality disorders following the survival of a cruel life, the author manifests an excellent and brilliant command of literature in short stories and sad poems. Through gothic style and informal construction and presentation of characters in sad stories such as “The Fall of the House of Usher and The Black Cat” was a means of appealing to his audience on emerging forms of literature (Dean, and Boyd, p483). The use of gothic language and juxtaposition technique of sad historical events with his life struggles as a means of offering original imagination in literature and seeking to influence modern authors.

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Edgar Allen Poe was critical in influencing French Symbolists of the early 20th century despite undergoing financial challenges at the end of this life and career. “Bad debts and poor financial state…” accelerated the effects of mental and psychological suffering Edgar Allen Poe endured, making him celebrated and criticized in equal measure (Li, p182). After his honorable discharge from the forces, the author developed a utilitarian approach to literature and oral presentations, seeking to use words to shape the perceptions and beliefs of his audience. The incorporation of an analytical method in sad stories by Edgar Allen Poe was indicating comfort and familiarity in death and suffering, pioneering elements of the heresy of the Didactic. The level of psychological intensity of his narrations is evident of personality influences in his famous works, thus offering a behavioral glimpse of the author through the presentation of tales of horror.

Use of personal experience by Edgar Allen Poe was successful in detailing the events and characters in The Black Cat story, hence sensitizing contemporary audience on the effects of mental disorders in our professions and career. Moreover, through “The Cask of Amontillado”, the first person recounts of character suffering resonates with his family’s challenges and lack of experiencing paternal and maternal affection as a child (Szabo, and Crişan, p61). Additionally, the author focused on The Tell-Tale Heart through a first-person narrator to reveal his troubles in seeking affection and identity, since every family he attached to succumb to varying forms of cruelties. As such, the use of Gothic tales was a symbolic method of calming his senses and suffering and preparing his soul for an inevitable ending. Humor was critically absent from the sad stories since the significant works of Edgar Allen Poe settled on the utilization of an illustrative method in horror literature.

Works Cited

Dean, Hannah J., and Ryan L. Boyd. “Deep into that darkness peering: A computational analysis of the role of depression in Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death.” Journal of affective disorders 266 (2020): 482-491.

Li, Wanlin. “Ambiguity as Aesthetic Strategy: Edgar Allan Poe’s Ambitions for the American Short Story.” Journal of Narrative Theory 48.2 (2018): 164-193.

Szabo, Lucian-Vasile, and Marius-Mircea Crişan. ““Bloodthirsty and Remorseless Fangs”: Representation of East-Central Europe in Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic Short Stories.” Dracula. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017. 53-68.

Taylor, Matthew A. “Edgar Allan Poe’s (Meta) physics: A Pre-history of the Post-human.” NINETEEN CENT LIT 62.2 (2007): 193-221.

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