One of the greatest authors of the nineteenth century was Edgar Allen Poe. He was the second child of David and Elizabeth Poe, growing up was difficult due to the fact both of his parents were struggling actors. Both Edgar Poe's "older siblings were given up, and by his third birthday his mother died orphaning himself and his two other siblings" (Reuben). Love, Beauty, and Death were inspiring themes of Poe's ingenious writing, mainly because of his difficult and miserable childhood he felt drawn by these themes. After reading a passage of his writing one can reveal his dark ideas and thoughts that were provoked by his childhood. Through troubled past experiences of poverty, loss of love and alcoholism contributed to his philosophies and themes such as true love never lasts and the corruption of money which he incorporated into his writings.
The harsh childhood had impacted Edgar Allen Poe's dark and weary writing style. He was born to parents David Poe Jr. and Elizabeth Poe who were at this time struggling actors in Boston. Only eight months after Edgar was born his father abandoned the poverty stricken family. Edgar Allen Poe was only three years old when his mother died causing him to be split from the rest of his family because he along with his sister and older brother were all orphaned away to different families. Edgar Allen Poe was still young when his family was split up causing traces of his child hood to be reflected in his writing as dark and weary. An example of this can be found in his poem entitled "A Dream Within A Dream" in this poem Edgar says "I hold within my hand/Grains of the golden sand-/How few! Yet how they creep/ through my fingers to the deep/ While I weep-while I weep! /O God! Can I not grasp (A Dream Within A Dream 768).Â This short and sweet poem uses metaphors to show that he lost everything. He says he holds in his hands the few grains of sand which represent his family; he said how few because he had a small family and few things he loved. His loved ones are all slipping though his hands and he cannot stop his family from falling apart and cannot bring them back together either. This showed that no matter how hard he tries to keep his family together they will never last forever. This theme of lost love is again brought up in other writing when his wife Virginia passes away. Edgar wishes he can do something to help but he cannot, so he has to face the facts of death.
Edgar Allen Poe was very intelligent, but he had difficulty with gambling, drinking, and debt that would cause him to lose his second father. During the winter of "February 1826 at seventeen years old Edgar attended the University of Virginia" (Binns 21).Â The university had only been open for a year at the time, but many students spent their time "drinking and gambling. College life was full of fights, riots and violence" (Binns 21) which Edgar Allen took an active role in participating on these events at the university. Even though Edgar Allen was every intelligent, he had a problem when it came to drinking and gambling. Friends and family tried to help him quit these two addictions, however; their efforts were futile. After his first year of college Edgar Allen left two thousand dollars in unpaid debt, eventually wrote to John Allen Poe and asked him for money, but he refused to pay if he continued to cat in the manner he did. He drew from this experience and wrote his short story Never Bet the Devil Your Head. In this short story of Toby Dimmit who is always making bets is notorious for saying phrases such as "I'll bet the Devil my Head"( Never Bet the Devil Your Head 489). At the end of the story he bets his head to the devil and ends up losing and dies a horrible death, no one paid for his funeral so his body was used for dog meat. This is significant because this story symbolizes what he is going through at this time in his life, he like the main character who has a gambling problem, when their friends try to help them both do not listen. And at the end he is fed to dogs because no one paid for his funeral this Â represents how Edgar Allan Poe could have felt when he Asked His Step Father for money but he refused to lend him money. Edgar was trying to make a direct correlation between his life and Toby Dimmit, and the affect that the drugs, alcohol, and gambling were having on his life.
After Edgar Allan Poe dropped out of school he joined the army because he had no money, it was in the army where he first started to write and what would later become his most famous writing. Edgar Allan always loved to write but now he was using it to get some money on the side. He did very well in the military and was soon ranked as a sergeant major. Later in "1829, Mrs. Allan died and John Allan tried to be friendly towards Edgar and signed Edgar's application to West Point" ("A short biography of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)"). While he waited to be accepted by WestPoint "Edgar lived with his grandmother and his aunt, Mrs. Clemm. Also living there was his brother, Henry, and young cousin, Virginia" ("A short biography of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)"). This was the first time he had been with his true family since he had been orphaned. When he did get to West Point Military Academy, he only stayed for a year because he could not afford it. So he went back to his grandmothers, where he fell in love with his little cousin named Virginia. His family had a problem with him marrying her because she was only 13 and he was much older and very poor. Edgar Allan Poe drew from this and published the short story Eleonor. It was a short story that reflects on how he fell in love with his cousin Virginia. The story is about a boy who lives with his younger cousin Eleonora and her mother in a secluded valley, it goes in to show how the two cousins fall in love. In the story the main character states "Hand In hand about this valley, for fifteen years, roamed I with Eleonora before Love entered Within our hearts" (Eleonor 514). This is a metaphor that shows how he truly felt about his cousin in real life and how deeply in love with her he truly was. A short time after he had written this story Edgar Allen Poe eventually married Virginia and without the consent of many of his family members. He was a good husband to her and did all he could to make her happy. They had little money for luxury so they spent a lot of time with each other and allowing their love grow and prosper, showing that money could not get in the way of true love.
Edgar Allen was a simple man and he only cared about very few things, he had always been in a pursuit to become successful.Â The most important thing to Edgar Allen besides his career was his wife Virginia, so when she died in 1847- only after ten years of marriage- Poe was completely devastated.Â In this poem For Annie Edgar Allen Poe describes death in vivid detail. He talks about his last minutes as his beloved Annie caresses his dying body. He said "When the light was extinguished/She covered me warm/And she prayed to the angels/To keep me from harm-/To the queen of the angels/To shield me from harm" (For Annie 764). This can be interpreted as to what Edgar might have done when he found out his wife had died. Poe was never the same after the death of his wife he sought the comfort of alcohol once again. In one of his poems Poe saidÂ Â ""Over the mountains/Of the Moon, /Down the Valley of the Shadow/Ride, boldly ride,"/The shade replied - /"If you seek for Eldorado" (Eldorado 767). In the poem he is trying to find Eldorado which can be seen as a safe haven, but he cannot reach it, and he thinks the only way to reach it is through death itself. He again is drawn to reveal his reoccurring themes of death, love and lost love.
Edgar Allen Poe produced some of his best works when he was down on his luck. Though he was troubled by his past experiences of abuse, alcoholism, poverty and lost love he was able to create some of the best writings of his time. The hard time where he suffered, in poverty and the harmful addicts of alcohol are shown in his dark writing style. He writes of lost love, misery and death. He died due to an over dose in alcohol two years after his wife died. It is perhaps because his very own life was full of so many of miserable things that the only way he could reflect on his life and let out his emotions was in his dark romantic writing.