Edgar Allan Poe Revolutionary Writer English Literature Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Although some may have questioned his caliber and works, there is no doubt that Edgar Allan Poe has changed the ways of writing and influenced many writers, such as George Bernard Shaw, with his dark and shadowy style, thus giving him the name of "Father of American Detective Stories" and the "pioneer of macabre writing style.

Born as Edgar Poe on January 19, 1809, he was the second child to an actress by the name of Elizabeth Hopkins Poe and a runaway father named David Poe. He had two other siblings, a younger sister named Rosalie and an older brother name William. The year after his birth, his mother Elizabeth dies of consumption and is later taken under a wealthy Scottish merchant by the name of John Allan. Although he was never formally adopted, he was still given the name of Edgar Allan Poe.

As a young child, he was spoiled in riches but also trapped in a cage with strict rules given by his unofficial foster father. Since he had all the financial support needed from his father, he went to study at different schools all over the world. Edgar was sent to London but eventually came back to study in the University of Virginia. His time spent in that college was useless. Because of his carefree personality at that time, he acquired some huge amount of debt through gambling and was pulled out of the college. After this college, he went to attend West Point to serve in the U.S. army but failed to be an officer's cadet. Through his education, many bad things happened. This brought grand humiliation to John Allan and his name. With this, his father took action. Edgar Allan Poe was then taken off the Allan inheritance and was left to support himself without even receiving a penny. As time passed, he found a passion in writing. He then became a writer, to publisher, then to assistant editor and August of 1835 but then got dismissed for being caught drinking on the job by his very own boss.

Although his life was made up of many misfortunate events, there was still time for a bit of romance. During his lifetime, he had two marriages. The first marriage with Sarah Elmira Royster and the second with Virginia Clemm. He was engaged to Sarah before he had registered at the University of Virginia but then separated due to the disapproval of her father. After the separation though, he had secretly married again on September 22, 1835 with Virginia Clemm during his stay with his aunt. Although they were blood related cousins, their marriage successfully produced children. She was thirteen and Edgar Allan Poe was twenty six at the time of their engagement. He lucratively wrote "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven" because of her.

Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849. His death still remains a mystery up until this day and none have found a single clue to why he died. Many have guessed thinking it was suicide, rabies, and even drugs and alcohol. Even if his life was made up of tragic events, he had lived a fruitful life and had created an immense impact on American literature and today's modern world of writing.

In his short lived life of forty years, Edgar Allan Poe had written many good quality short stories and poems. Some of his works have even won awards and gained recognition for it's' distinctiveness and his cleverness in creating one of America's first detective stories.

"Tell Tale Heart" is horror short story in which the narrator's identity is unknown. It begins as the narrator saying that he nervous, anxious, and paranoid but never insane. The upcoming morning, everything goes back to normal but as days go by, the story deepens. Because of the narrator's character, he decides to kill the old man living with him because he feels troubled. (Quote): [1] "Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant." This quote shows that he begins to hear heartbeats of the man and then begins to worry that his neighbors will hear it so he decides to take action. He violently attacks and mutilates the old man and hides the body parts in the floorboards of the house. Suddenly, the police arrive and although they do not suspect anything, the narrator is driven by madness and confesses his crime and begs the policemen to open the floorboards only to expose the mutilated body. (Quote): [2] "Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

I think this short story was very riveting and thrilling. It made the plot interesting because the readers do not even know the identity of both the old man and the narrator at all throughout the whole story. Although the characters may seem believable, I think that the narrator seemed like a madman because he has many thoughts like in this text of the short story [3] "I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever." In this part, he explains that the old man has the eye of a vulture and that is the reason why he wants to kill him. The plot is interesting but the believability of the story is low because of the characters and their actions such as the narrator's reason to kill the old man and absurd hearing of the false heartbeats in his head. The writing was enjoyable but tricky because Poe's style is very different and unique. This short story is definitely worth reading because of the plot and the suspense throughout the whole story.

"The Purloined Letter" is one of the first short stories that started the detective genre in the literary world. This story is about the hunt of a stolen letter by the members of the French Police. Dupin, a detective hired by minister whom the letter was stolen from for political revenge, is known for his skill in solving mysteries. After numerous tries, investigations and hard work, they do not find any clue in who the culprit is. But although they worked hard, their investigations were bizarre like in this quote, it shows that they did not look in the right places. (Quote) [4] "After the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions we probed with the fine long needles you have seen me employ. From the tables we removed the tops." Although doing a thorough search of every crook and cranny in the apartment, little did they know that the culprit was right under their noses.

This particular work was one of my favorites from Edgar Allan Poe because not only was the plot interesting, but the sequence of events that led to the twist was astounding. Although this is one of the few that started the new genre of detective stories, he surprisingly wrote this in a different style that he had written in before. In other short stories he had made, they were mostly about gore and tragedy while this mainly focuses on the hunt of a letter between Dupin and the French police. The characters in this story were absolutely believable because the story seems to take place in the 1840's of France. Back in that day, investigation was not as thorough and they had detectives that searched like the way Dupin had done. The writing style was indeed very enjoyable because it was more comprehendible and understanding compared to many of his writings. This short story is worth reading because readers will get to see another side of Poe's work and be able to enjoy in one of the first stories that introduced the detective genre onto the literary world.

"The Raven" is another great short story written by Poe which incorporates a mysterious style and a dark theme. It is about a scholar in a dark lonely house because his lovely Lenore had passed away. Late at night, he sits in the chair that Lenore once sat before and opens his book trying to forget the memories spent with his lost loved one. Then he hears a rustling sound from the curtains and doors, worried, he stands up and opens the door. Suddenly, a black raven quickly enters the house and then the narrator asks for the bird's name but only responds saying "nevermore". Confused, the scholar only thinks that this raven will go away the next morning but then again, the bird says "nevermore". He sits back down on Lenore's chair while the raven blankly stares at him. As time passed, the man begins to get angry and calls the bird an "evil prophet." (Quote) [5] "Prophet! said I, "thing of evil! Prophet still, if bird or devil!". He then begins to ask if he will see his Lenore up in the heavens but the reply was always the same. At the end of this story, the narrator thinks that not only will he live a long miserable life, but the raven will always be with him, in the shadows.

I thought this story was quite heartrending and eerie because of how Poe created the plot and the strange characters such as the man and the mystifying raven. It has a deep feeling within the text because of where the story is set and the strange bird that always says "nevermore". I thought that this story was enjoyable because of Edgar Allan Poe's technique of writing and of course, his conspire of the whole narrative. I think the characters are believable because in real life, when one's love passes away, people go into a state of depression and would constantly miss them just like the scholar in the story although the bird is not so realistic. I overall enjoyed this short story because of its density and stratagem.

"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is another well written detective yet gory short story that incorporates the same character, Dupin, in this story who is not a professional detective but a man who only wants to solve the murder because of his personal amusement. The story starts off in the murder of Madame L'Espanaye and her daughter in the streets of Paris, which is called the Rue Morgue. It begins to describe the brutal murder like in this quote: [6] "Of Madame L'Espanaye no traces were here seen; but an unusual quantity of soot being observed in the fire place, a search was made in the chimney, and horrible to relate! the corpse of the daughter, head downward, was dragged there from; it having been thus forced up the narrow aperture for a considerable distance. The body was quite warm. Upon examining it, many excoriations were perceived, no doubt occasioned by the violence with which it had been thrust up and disengaged. Upon the face were many severe scratches, and, upon the throat, dark bruises, and deep indentations of finger nails, as if the deceased had been throttled to death." As you can tell in the text that it was a vicious murder and Edgar Allan Poe was very inventive about it because the way he wrote that passage seemed so realistic. Dupin and his friend suddenly read the newspaper about it and are determined to set the innocent man who was accused of the crime.

This was truly a great detective short story written by Edgar Allan Poe because it was set in Paris with two believable fictional characters and the plot was very thrilling. Although the mutilations of the bodies were a bit gory, I believed everything was plausible and everyone should read this.

"Annabel Lee" was the most breathtaking poem that I have ever read about love and the sadness that goes along with it. It held so much deep emotions because this poem was actually inspired by one of his wives. This poem was about how two people were deep in love and the tragedy that came with it. Annabel Lee was so beautiful that the angels in the heaven were enraged with deep jealousy thus causing her death. Even after her death, the man still lies down next to his beautiful bride beside her tomb in the sea. Although it is not a realistic story, the emotions in it were so surreal and it can make readers feel the unfathomable love within the lines, such as in these lines: (Quote) [7] "...But our love it was stronger by far than the love, of those who were older than we, of many far wiser than we, and neither the angels in heaven above, nor the demons down under the sea, can ever dissever my soul from the soul, of the beautiful Annabel Lee..."

A poem that I can greatly relate to written by Poe is "Alone". There is no story in this poem but mainly feelings of being alone especially one in childhood. Anyone can actually relate to this poem and this is why it is so immensely popular through the literary world. It shows the feelings of being invisible and not being cared about when a child. (Quote): [8] "My passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken. My sorrow, I could not awaken my heart to joy at the same tone. And all I loved, I loved alone. I think it is pleasurable but not in the case that being alone is fine but how readers can relate to the narrator's situation.

These short stories and poems were the very few that gained recognition in his lifetime.

In his lifetime, he was greatly affected of what happened around him and the people that vacated his life, some concerning his family and some about love.

9"… But his poems of extraordinary worth are exceedingly few-scarcely above a score at most-in which must be included the earlier lines To Helen, Israfel, The City in the Sea, The Sleeper, The Haunted Palace, Dream-Land, The Raven, Ulalume, For Annie, and Annabel Lee. And most of his earlier verses are manifestly imitative, Byron and Moore and Coleridge and Shelley being his chief models; while much of his earlier work, including all of the volume of 1827, and some of his latest-notably the verses addressed to Mrs. Osgood and Mrs. Shew and Mrs. Lewis-are either fragmentary and "incondite" or mere "verses," or both. It has been justly said that "there is almost no poet between whose best and worst verse there is a wider disparity."  His range, too, is narrower than that of any other American poet of front rank. Consistently with one of his theories already adverted to, he wrote no long poem, save the juvenile Tamerlane and Al Aaraaf, both of them extremely crude performances and an abortive play, Politian, which he never saw fit to publish in its entirety; so that he lives as poet solely by reason of his lyrics. And within the realm of the lyric he confined himself to the narrowest range of ideas. Nature he employed merely as ornament or as symbol or to fill in the background; and nowhere in his poems does he deal with the life about him, except in so far as he writes of friends and kindred. His most constant theme-if we exclude the poet himself, for few writers have so constantly reflected themselves in their work-is either the death of a beautiful woman and the grief occasioned thereby, or the realm of shades-the spirit-world-a subject to which he was strongly attracted, especially in his middle years. Hence, although most European critics have accorded him first place among American poets, most American critics have hesitated to accept their verdict…": This text was taken from a volume book and it states that although Edgar Allan Poe was a great poet and writer, he constricted himself in a narrow range of ideas being that of death and lost love even though he scarcely wrote of his life, friends, and kindred. I totally agree with this critical review because in the last sentences, it stated that most European critics put him on top of American poets, American critics did not because of his themes in which Poe had written in. They were mostly of death, torture, gore, sadness, and love. They thought Edgar Allan Poe was to far-fetched and only stayed in that realm of writing. It is true that Poe had only stayed in his world of writing and did not bother to explore in different genres but his own. His twisted life had caused him to do so and the misfortunate events that happened in his life affected him greatly. Being abandoned and having to deal with the death of his loved one twice greatly put him in some type of depression coma because throughout his life, many bad things happened. He had drinking, gambling, and never managed to stay in a job permanently.

10"My whole existence has been the merest Romance," Poe wrote, the year before his death, "in the sense of the most utter unworldliness." This is Byronic bunk. Poe's life was tragic, but he was about as unworldly as a bale of cotton. Poe's world was Andrew Jackson's America, a world of banking collapse, financial panic, and grinding depression that had a particularly devastating effect on the publishing industry, where Poe sought a perch. His biography really is a series of unfortunate events. But two of those events were transatlantic financial crises: the Panic of 1819 and the Panic of 1837, the pit and the pendulum of the antebellum economy. Poe died at the end of a decade known, in Europe, as "the Hungry Forties," and he wasn't the only American to fall face down in the gutter during a seven-year-long depression brought on by a credit collapse. He did not live out of time. He lived in hard times, dark times, up-and-down times. Indigence cast a shadow over everything he attempted. Poverty was his raven, tapping at the door, and it was Poe, not the bird, who uttered, helplessly, another rhyme for "Nevermore." "I send you an original tale," Poe once began a letter, and, at its end, added one line more: "P.S. I am poor." This review is biographical because it basically explains Poe's hardships in the publishing industry in the start of his writing career and comparing it to Andrew Jackson and what he had to face when all banks collapsed and the depression started. His financial problems had affected him greatly. Although he was well-known, it was hard to get published due to the people who did think he works were great. Going from one publishing house to the next, Poe tried many style to get published and he even lied that when he was an editor for magazine, he raised the number of subscribers which was not true from many who researched his life.

Edgar Allan Poe was very well known for his use of themes in his poems, novels, and short stories such as gore, mystery, romanticism, and of course, tragedy. These themes were obviously reflected in his life which was presented in his works as well.

The theme "love" was in his poem "Annabel Lee". He became a part of the American Romantic movement in writing because of those poems and profoundly moved and touched many American hearts. He was deeply in love with Virginia Clemm and personally wrote "Annabel Lee" for her. It was also a musical poem and readers can see the emotions in the verses and it was very well received by the public and categorized it as part of the theme, love. As readers analyze and read all his works, Edgar Allan Poe has only used the theme of love in such cases that a man is usually mourning over a death of his loved one and goes into a state of depression. He not only uses death in love but shows the tragedy and sadness in the story's plot shown in these verses:

(Annabel Lee Text) [11] "…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 my Annabel Lee..."

Another theme shown in his works are gore and tragedy. Because of Edgar Allan Poe's grief-stricken life and his mental problems, he became a very troubled man who wrote a lot about gore and gloominess. As a young child, he was abandoned by his father David Poe and lost his only mother Elizabeth Poe at an early age in his childhood. When he grew up, his own foster father resented him and abandoned. These life changing events caused him to become the person he was. Such examples are "The Raven" and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". He uses death such as mutilation and murders as a source of horror and thrill, such as in this quote: [12] "Upon the face were many severe scratches, and, upon the throat, dark bruises, and deep indentations of finger nails, as if the deceased had been throttled to death." This provides readers a way to picture or imagine the actual scene. Although it is very gruesome, it attracts a variety of readers and this is what made him prominent.

Macabre use of writing style was what made Edgar Allan Poe famous. I remember when I first read his short story which was called "Tell Tale Heart." It was complex, hard to understand, but in the end, I understood. It was a dark scary story which gave me thrills in the back of my spine. Not only did Edgar Allan Poe become a revolutionary writer that influenced other such as [13] George Bernard Shaw, Charles Baudelaire, and Jules Verne, he influenced me as well.

As a young student just fresh in high school, I was not exposed to such works as Edgar Allan Poe's. Many books and poems that surrounded me did not have such a huge impact because Poe's works helped me understand the meaning of love while many others did make me feel it. Love is eternal, I will remember that. One of the few things I had learned is that two people deep in love cannot be separated, even after death; it will still continue to live on because love is precious, sweet, and can change lives.

In the literary world, his short stories such as "Murder in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter" made him the pioneer and one of the first to ever make the detective genre more prominent. In his time, not a lot of writers wrote about mystery or anything including a detective. When other writers read his works, they quickly became captivated and intrigued by it and in present day time, the world now has stories, poems, and movies because of Edgar Allan Poe.