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Edgar Allan Poe, a dark romanticism writer, known for his dark works, isn't too far off from Harlem Renaissance writer, Richard Wright's work. In many of Poe's writing he emphasizes the struggle and tragedy of human existence, he himself felt. While in Richard Wright's writings he portrays to what he perceives as reality. Due to the time Wright was growing up in, as a black man in the Southern part of the United States, Wright wrote about the struggles and tragedies he was subjugated with as a black man, being discriminated upon by the dominant white racism. Although Poe takes a different approach from Wright in terms of writing, both writers portray their work as dark and violent, showing the tragedies brought about by human relations.
Although both Richard Wright and Edgar Allan Poe depict their stories and work to be dark and violent, they both take completely different approaches to such. Richard Wright's "Back Boy" focused more on the external torment and tragedy he was faced with as a young black boy in the South caused by White racism. Many of Edgar Allan Poe's, on the other hand, depicts his dark stories through a heavier emphasis on the internal torment his character dealt with after a painful external conflict. Wright's response to the external anguish he was faced with was to deal with his conflicts head on while the character in Poe's "The Raven" is drowned in his own grief, taking no action to his conflict.
Although it is known that Edgar Allan Poe and Richard Wright were both deprived of a solid father figure the details show they were both different cases. Edgar Allan Poe's relationship with his father was cut short after his death when Poe was 3. With no recollection of his parents Poe was adopted by John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan. Edgar and John would constantly fight, but still kept good relations towards one another. Eventually Poe ran away after a big dispute, but once enrolled into military school John supported him financially. Their relationship would soon deteriorate after John's disappointment of the Edgar's constant need for money due to debt. Richard Wright, on the other hand, tells us in "Black Boy" that his father was indifferent and barely communicated with Richard, and left the family at an early age. The difference between both father figures is that Poe at least had a chance to have a semi-healthy relationship with his father, but due to his short comings, his father disowned him. While Richard's father gave him no chance at all for a connection.
In Richard Wright's essay, "I Choose Exile", he explains his reasoning for leaving America to France. He tells us he feels restricted and constantly discriminated in America. Whereas in France there was less racial discrimination and he felt more free as a person and writer. Although Richard Wright's self-exile to France is more extreme this is comparable to Edgar Allan Poe's escape from his father before he enlists himself into the military. Edgar Allan Poe feels similar when he leaves his father, in the sense that he feels restricted and rejected as a son.
Both Edgar Allan Poe's and Richard Wright's death is still a mystery to this day. Edgar Allan Poe would spend his last moments of life drowned in misery. Due to Poe's inner confliction he had a bad alcohol issue, on top of his low tolerance for alcohol; it was inevitable for a bad ending. Poe was found on the streets on October 3rd and was taken to the hospital where he died 4 days afterwards. The cause of his death is still unknown, but it is believed that it was an alcohol-related problem or a planned suicide. Richard Wright's death was written off as a heart attack at the age of 65. Previous to this, there had been no history of heart trouble or anything hinting to the sort. This caused rumors to surface such as an attempted murder. Due to McCarthyism, Wright was concerned about his life after investigations from the government.
Throughout Richard Wright's life he has had two wives. His first wife was in 1939, Dhima Rose Meadman, which led to a quick divorce. In 1941, Wright married Ellen Poplar and ended up having two children with her. Richard's second relationship was more successful and he was able to die happily with Ellen. As opposed to Edgar Allan Poe, where he had many problems with relationships. It began with his first relationship with Sarah Elmira Royster. Due to his situation with his father and school they lost contact and in two years time married another man. She came back into his life after her husband died. They planned to wed in 1849, but later that year Poe was found dead. Another serious relationship Poe had was with Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, his cousin. They were married when she was the age of the 13 and he was at the age of 27 in 1836. Their marriage was cut short in January 1842 when she contracted tuberculosis and died 5 years later. These unstable relationships have inspired Poe to continue writing his grueling dark writing.
Both Edgar Allan Poe and Richard Wright, being esteemed writers, did not get a full education. Richard Wright was unable to receive a sturdy full education due to the constant financial aid he was in as a youth. He was constantly moving around the South to different families and school, taking hiatuses in between for work, to support his family. He excelled in elementary school and junior school, graduating as valedictorian of his class. Although he had much success in his studies he did not receive any further education after 9th grade, which already was a feat many in the South did not accomplish. Compared to Wright, Poe had finished high school and moved onto college. He entered the University of Virginia with good marks, but due to his constant debt he was forced to drop out. After leaving the army he tried getting an education in West Point military school where he was unable to graduate from due to insufficient funding from his father and more debt. Although both writers weren't able to get a full education, they are both heralded as great writers.
Many of Richard Wright's writings have been put off as a great portrayal of the reality in America and some became best sellers in his time. While he received praise, many criticized his works, calling them disgusting and full of unrealistic violence and hatred. Many put it off as an over-exaggeration of racial tension in the south and wanted many of his writings to be banned. Though fame was able to reach Wright, very little positive attention was paid towards Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was able to publish some of his works into magazines during his lifetime, which was barely able to feed him. Many criticized him as a deranged writer and accused him of plagiarism many times. Although both writers were heavily criticized in their times, they have made a great impact on American literature.
Both Edgar Allan Poe and Richard Wright have been deeply inspired by their hectic life. Edgar Allan Poe has been tormented by the problems of depression, loneliness, and dealing with the loss of women in his life. These factors have led Poe to write grueling stories that sometimes can be connected directly to his personal life. Some suggest that Poe's "Anabelle Lee" was inspired by one of the women in his life. The poem showed how the narrator was in love with a woman and even after death kept his love, which can be correlated to his dead wife, Virginia. While Poe vaguely lets the reader know whether or not his works can be applied to him, Wright portrays his life how it is. Richard Wright's "Black Boy" was a direct autobiography of the hardships he experienced in the South and how it affected him as a writer. Whether its Wright's indirect hatred or Poe's Gloom, both writer's life experiences have helped them greatly achieve their writing style and overall attitude.
Richard Wright rejected the strong Christian teachings bound to him in his youth by his aunt and grandmother. It was perhaps the rough background he was brought up in and the overly strict rules his family set for him due to religion; that he disliked the religion they forced onto him. Religion even stopped him from getting a job to work on Saturdays at one point. His grandmother saw Saturdays as a holy day and if he were to work on those days, it would be very disrespectful, and would refuse for him to work on those days. These conflicts have led Wright to deject Christianity. As for Edgar Allan Poe, we cannot truly assume his religion. Many believe that he was an atheist, but he was converted as a Catholic by his adoptive parents. In his writings he also referred to biblical literature, which can help prove the theory he was a possible Christian. Although he knew of Biblical texts, it is not known whether or not he embodied the religion