Edgar Allan Poe

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Viewing Romanticism through Poe

“I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow” (The Fall of the House of Usher 162) could practically sum up nearly all of Edgar Allan Poe’s works and his life. Throughout his many short stories, among which I read The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat, The Purloined Letter, and The Cask of Amontillado, the constant theme conveyed is that of darkness. Some of his works, such as The Fall of the House of Usher, create a more melancholy sense of darkness through certain word choice, while others, such as the Dupin tales and The Pit and the Pendulum, create a more dark, mysterious theme. Edgar Allan Poe’s many short stories are prime examples of American Romanticism due to their dark themes and commentary on human nature through their symbolic, Gothic natures.

Poe could have practically been a character from one of his writings with the life he had. After being left parentless at the young age of three, he went to live in Richmond, Virginia with John and Frances Allan. Though Frances came to be a mother figure to the boy, his relationship with his “adoptive” father failed when Allan stopped paying for his schooling. He then moved in with his Aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia, whom he later married. Poe went through many financial and emotional hardships in his life. He lost every woman he ever loved to tuberculosis and he spent his whole life vastly underpaid, struggling to find work (Quinn).

All of these life events shaped the writer along with the fact that he lived in the era of Romanticism. Romantic pieces focused on sin, the imagination, mystery, revolution, and creativity (Strickland). Romanticism was a movement that rebelled against boundaries much like Poe did. Romanticism’s and his life’s effects on his writing almost go hand in hand. Poe’s stories featured tales of revolution not only because that is an element of Romanticism, but because he...