Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and "The Raven"

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  • Topic: Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, William Henry Leonard Poe
  • Pages : 12 (4939 words )
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  • Published : April 27, 2005
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Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and "The Raven"
Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be the father of the short story by many. Over the course of his life, he wrote hundreds of short stories and poems. His writing style is unique and influenced by the tragedies that occurred over the course of his life. In fact, he is most well known for writing morbid stories and gruesome, dismal poems. Indeed his writing habits were heavily influenced by his life. His life was full of depression, angst, and woe. Many of the people he cared for fell victim to deadly plagues and diseases. To cope with this pain, Edgar Allan Poe sought comfort in the bottom of a bottle. In his times of depression he would drink heavily and become sick for days at a time. In between his fits of alcoholism and depression, he wrote. When he wrote, he wrote well. Edgar Allan Poe led a life full of tragedy and troubled times. Although he kept an air of dignity and pride around him, he often felt very lonely and depressed. This feeling of desperation greatly influenced his unique and often morbid writing style.

Edgar Allan Poe had very humble beginnings. Within the first three years of his life, he lost both of his parents and was separated from his siblings. Edgar Allan Poe's parents had a background that can be credited for his imagination and love of writing poems and short stories. His parents, David and Elizabeth Poe, were both actors and stage performers. Although poor, David and Elizabeth were well known on the stage, and played as important characters in assorted plays including comedies and Shakespearean dramas. David Poe preferred to take on minor roles in plays, but was credited by critics as good nonetheless. Elizabeth scored many lead actress roles, but still the two only had enough money to live poorly. They were too poor to care for their firstborn son, William Henry Poe, and had to send him off to his grandparents who were to care for him. On January 19, 1809, Edgar Poe was born. Edgar's father was suffering heavily from alcoholism, and eventually left Elizabeth to care for her son alone. Elizabeth, however, was showing signs of tuberculosis and was pregnant with a third child. She was struggling to support her family by playing various theatrical roles for money. Soon she was too weak to continue acting. The owner of the theater company she worked for placed adds in newspapers to raise money for the Poes. Unfortunately, on December 11, 1811, Elizabeth Poe died of tuberculosis at the very young age of twenty-four, leaving her two children, Edgar and Rosalie alone.

Edgar Poe was almost three years old at the time of his mother's death. His mother had hopes of her children being cared for by their uncle, but that did not happen. Instead, Edgar was adopted by Frances Allan. Frances was a friend of Elizabeth Poe and frequently visited her family knowing that Elizabeth was going to pass away soon, and provided them with money, food, and toys for the children.

Edgar Poe was now living in a world totally new to him. Instead of musty rented rooms and sickly mother, he now was living with a well-to-do Virginian merchant and his family. The Allans lived in large house that sat on top of John Allan's shop. Edgar was treated as a son by the Allans and he referred to John Allan as "Pa" and Frances Allan as "Mama" (LeVert 30). During his childhood with the Allans, Poe was badly spoiled by Frances Allan. John Allan however was not as openly affectionate with his adopted son. He did nonetheless want the best for him, and spared no expense when it came to sending Edgar to school. At age four, he was enrolled by John in a dame school to learn to read and write. Suzanne LeVert wrote, "By the time he was six, Edgar was proficient in reading, drawing, and ballroom dancing" (LeVert 30). This only proves that John Allan did care for Poe and wanted only the best for him. Despite his academic accomplishments, John was still very...
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