A Life of Reflections - Edgar Allan Poe

By Kelly Denton
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Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849

"The boundaries which divide Life and Death are best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends, and where the other begins?" (Edgar Allan Poe)

(American Academy of Poets)


Edgar Allan Poe reflected his life's feelings in his poems and short stories. He was mystified by life and death experiences. He uses his psychological introspections to create many of his works. Throughout many of his poems he reflects on his feelings of love for the women in his life and the mystery of life and death. Scott Peeples states " even the briefest biographies of Poe emphasize the impact that the death of loved ones - women especially - had on his work..." (46). When Poe attended school in London he admired the 18th century Victorian Gothic fictional writers like Horace Walpole. Warpole was credited for writing the first Gothic fiction (Wagenknect). This became his influence for writing tales of horror and suspense. "Poe constructed allegories that explored the death experience" says Peeples (46). He also admired the Romantic poet, John Keats. Keats was one of the beloved Romantic poets of the 19th century. Poe wrote of death and melancholy in his works but the verse was romantically orchestrated (American Academy of Poets). He had a fascination with fear probably since he felt that way many times in his life. His dysfunctional life began with the tragic loss of his parents at a young age. He felt abandonment and loneliness. He suffered from depression and pushed the feelings away with alcohol. After his wife died, he was at his worst where depression and alcoholism consumed him (Wagenknecht). In his Gothic fiction short stories he introduces his ideas of death and alcoholism. Many of his writings were in the first person and he questions his sanity (Kennedy & Gioia). Poe's critics interpret this pattern to represent the search for himself by going deep into his thoughts and his ultimate arrival at the mystery of inner self. Paul Bowles states, "I remember...the combination of repugnance and fascination I felt at hearing the stories of Poe." (Pounds 484). Edgar Allan Poe had a deep love for the women in his life and his reality and dreams were mystified with life and death. In his Gothic fictional stories he reveals the terrors that haunted his mind. His writings have relevance in our world today because so many people can still relate their feelings to his lyrics and stories. Movies are still being produced about his classic Gothic stories.

Biography Timeline

1810 Edgar Poe is Born on January 19 in Boston to young parents, Allan and Elizabeth Poe, which were both in the theatrical business.

1812 At 3 year's old, Poe's mother dies of tuberculosis. His father dies of alcoholism.

1812 Poe was adopted by his Godparents, John and Frances Allan.

1815 At age 6, Poe is sent from America to London to attend boarding school. He returns to America at age 11.

1826 Poe attended the University of Virginia at age 17. Poe dropped out of school due to his gambling debts and drinking.

Poe wrote and printed his first essays, "Tamerlane and other Poems" at his own cost. Poe cannot support himself and

joins the U.S. army.

1829 Mrs. Allan dies of tuberculosis and Poe returns home. John Allan sends Poe to West Point.

1831 Poe gets kicked out of West Point for his drunkenness and bad behavior deliberately.

1835 Poe wins a writing contest at 26 year's old for "The Manuscript Found in a Bottle" and finally gets a job.

1836 Poe moves in with his aunt Maria Clemm. He marries her daughter, Virginia. She was 13 and he was 27 years old.

He gets a job in Richmond, Va. at the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe quits the job because of low pay and behavioral issues.

1839 Edgar moves to New York with his wife. He writes his first book of short stories, "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque".

He receives no money from this venture.

He wrote "The Fall of the House of Usher".

1840 He started work for Graham's Magazine in Richmond Virginia.

1841 His detective story, "The Murders at the Rue Morgue" was published. He had written many poems by now.

1845 He works at the Broadway Journal but the business failed after one year. Poe was stll struggling for money.

1846 Virginia died of tuberculosis. Poe started drinking heavily. He falls into a deep depression.

Poe wrote "The Raven".

1849 Poe was 40 years old. He was found unconscious outside a tavern and was admitted to the hospital. He died five days later.

(Kay & Tane)


Poe was a creative writer about romance and Gothic fiction. He used his feelings of love and terror to illustrate his life in his poems and stories. My objective is to enlighten the reader about how one man's reflections of his life through his writings has created a collection of literature that is full of feelings and the relevance of how generations of people have interpreted his work to create Gothic art in general.

Poems That Admire The Women In His Life

"To My Mother" (1849)

"Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you -
You who are more than mother unto me." (1-6)
(American Academy of Poets)

Edgar Allan Poe wrote this poem for Maria Clemm, his aunt (Peeples). He considered her more of a mother to him than his maternal or adopted mother. Maria let him move in with her when he was in financial crisis and Mrs. Allen died. He lived with Maria the majority of his adult life. In "To My Mother", Poe shows his sensitive feelings for women as he does in so many of his other poems. He also conveys his introspection of his own psyche of what is a mother by using the images of angels and heaven.

"Annabel Lee" (1849)

"It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
by the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me." (1-13) (Kennedy 949)

Poe wrote this poem for Virginia after her death (Peeples). She was very devoted to Edgar probably because she married so young. Everyone remembers their first love. Edgar had genuine deep love for her. He expresses this love in "Annabel Lee" by describing a love that was more than love (Kennedy and Gioia). Poe had been drinking heavily at the time he wrote this poem. He had turned to alcohol after her death. In this poem, he presents the love he felt so beautifully. This is why he is considered one of the Romantic poets (Peeples).

Short Stories That Relate to Poe's Gothic Style

"The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839)

In this Gothic short story the narrator is invited by an old friend, Roderick Usher, to come for a visit because he is sick. His friend lives in a mansion that is by a swamp and is dark and gloomy. The narrator says, "I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity--an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the grey wall, and the silent tarn--a pestilent and mystic vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued." (Poe 4 American Academy of Poets). Poe incorporates all of the aspects of a Gothic fiction. He leads the reader into the insane minds of the characters in the house. He follows through with combining fear and murder. This leads the audience in suspense and terror. "One aspect of Poe's life that may have been very influential in "The Fall of the House of Usher" was his drinking habits" (Wagenknecht 30). Iron Maiden, a rock group, wrote a song about this story bringing it in to mainstream pop culture.

Below is an example the modern remake of this story.


The House of Usher Trailer


"The Raven" (1846)

Although "The Raven" reads like a poem it is a short story (Tane). It is Poe's most notable metaphysical work. It contains the elements of Gothic fiction with a gloomy cottage and a feeling of isolation. Poe relays his feelings of loneliness and abandonment. The narrator questions his sanity as a Raven has entered the house for no known cause. The spooky feeling that the reader gets is when the raven answers "Nevermore" (Poe Verse 8).

The narrator says,

"Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou, "I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the raven "Nevermore" (Poe Verse 8 American Academy of Poets).

Modern Pop Culture Example of The Simpson's Halloween Episode.

The Raven- Simpson's Episode
The Raven- Simpson's Episode

John Cusack stars as Edgar Allen Poe in "The Raven".

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A new movie has been scheduled to show next year. It stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in his final days.

Conclusion and Revelance

Edgar Allan Poe was a brilliant poet, short story writer and critic. He was a man that had strong feelings for the women in his life

and was introspective in his writings about women. Because of his tragic life events he portrayed many of his troubled thoughts in

his poems and short stories. His depression and alcoholism was apparent in some of his stories and he even questions his sanity.

Poe's use of gloom, dying women, claustrophobia, old mansions and spooky places set the mood for his Gothic fiction. In modern

pulp culture Ray Bradbury was one of the authors that admired Poe's work (Peeples). Poe's influence over his audience is still

relevant today as we see new movies about his classic detective story "The Murders at the Rue Morgue". He has been an

influence for many other Gothic fiction writers. Poe's life reflections revealed in his poems and Gothic themes, still inspires

many poets, writers and musicians. His works have withstood the test of time and are still being re-invented (Peeples).

Works Cited

Peeples, Scott. Edgar Allan Poe Revisited. New York: Twayne.1998. Print.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man Behind the Legend. New York: Oxford UP.1963. Print.

Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia, eds. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 11th ed. New York: Longman, 2010 Print. 949.

Pounds, Wayne. "Paul Bowles and Edgar Allan Poe: The Disintegration of the Personality." Twentieth Century Literature Paul Bowles Issue, 32 (Autumn, Winter). [first page of article only]. 1986. Print.

Kay, Elizabeth. Walking Tom: Edgar Allan Poe's Publishers Row in New York City. New York. 1981. Print.

Academy of American Poets. 1997. Print http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/130

Tane, Susan Jaffe. Nevermore: The Edgar Allan Poe Collection. Cornell Library University. 2007. 2001.19, April. Print. www.library.cornell.edu

Images Cited

"John Cusack." Google Image Results. Web. 16, April 2011.

"Edgar Allan Poe." Google Image Results. Web. 16, April 2011.



Crystal Guida's Review of Kelly Denton's Wiki Page

I like the overall look of your Wiki page. Poe's quote does a good job of drawing the reader in. The best section is the poems and their meanings. You covered your subject thoroughly with examples of the types of works. You might add an additional section called Background with Poe's biographical data. Then just put your objective under Thesis. Your images are appropriate with good placement. Your use of white space would be further enhanced by dividing your thesis section as previously mentioned. Your documentation is accurate. You achieved your objective--I feel enlightened!

Leigha Williams' review of Kelly Denton's Wiki Page

I thought the best content section was the conclusion section, because of the way you were able to tie all of your points together. While your timeline of Poe's life was very informative, I think that if you were able to turn it into a paragraph and give some more specific details, it would be more enjoyable for the reader. I also think that your thesis statement reads a little "choppy". If you added a few more details and elaboration, it would flow much more nicely. I think that you gave some great details, if you could just add a few more in those specific spots, your page would be even better.

All sections were adequately titled. As stated before, I enjoy the facts that are given in the timeline,but feel if you were to give those facts in more of a story type paragraph, it would be a more captivating way to begin your page. I think the paragraphs are arranged adequately and effectively. You give your thesis, supporting details and then you close with a strong conclusion. The details that were given were interesting and not repetitive.

I think the overall look of the page is great. I enjoyed the pictures and I felt like your use of white space makes your page easier to read through. I especially liked the Simpson's picture, it's fun!

Research and Documentation:
It is clear that you have done some extensive research for your page and your works cited page looks great.

I think you did a great job overall! I enjoyed reading through your page and I certainly feel more enlightened regarding Mr. Poe, his writing, and his life.

Ashley Pearson's review of Kelly Denton's Wiki Page


*What is the best content section?

- Biography Timeline

*Which section needs the most work? What, specifically, do you suggest that the writer add or change?

- Introduction. I also think adding more images to your page throughout would help.

*Identify paragraphs/sections that would benefit by additional details or research.

- Introduction and Conclusion

*Is the topic covered in sufficient detail?

- Yes


*Has the author created headings for each section of the page?

- Yes

*How strong in the “opening”? How well does the first paragraph/section draw readers into the subject and make them want to read on?

- I think that having the Biography Timeline at the beginning is a good idea because it let's you see the subject's life, but I would suggest having a small opening introduction paragraph before that, something short.

*Should any of the paragraphs or sections be ordered differently or should any of the paragraphs be moved to another section (different heading)?

- No I think it's all good

*Is there repetition (the same facts or ideas appear in more than one place)?

- No


*Comment on the overall look of the page.

- I think it looks good, it just needs more images throughout the whole thing

*Comment on the use of images and their placement.

- Its good use of the images that you did use and their placement, but I think you just need to add more images throughout.

*How well does the author use “white space”?

- Good

The Research and Documentation Element:

*Has the author cited correctly when she/he uses material from a research source?

- Yes

*Has the author included a correct works cited page list at the end of the page?

- Yes