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The Edgar Allan Poe Story Of Isolation

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Published: Tue, 25 Apr 2017

When someone close dies, it can be very devastating to the emotional state of a person. But how each person deals with death is different. Some use it as an excuse when things go bad or their life takes a wrong turn. Others use it to motivate and influence their life in a positive direction. The one single event of death influenced one writer in particular. Popular writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe had many different influences as he had a troubled life. One of the biggest influences throughout his poetry is the death of his parents. The lonely tone of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Alone” portrays his isolation as a child because of his parents’ deaths.

First to understand Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry and the reasons behind it, it is important to understand where he came from. Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston Massachusetts. His mother and father, David and Elizabeth Poe, were actors and this caused them to travel all over the place (EAP: Authors and Artists para 4). Not long after Poe was born his father left the family and was later found to have died in 1810.

With only his mother left to watch over him Poe accompanied his mother to many of her performances. Until 1811 when due to tuberculosis Poe’s mother died (EAP: Authors and Artists para 5). Edgar Allan Poe was later adopted by John and Frances Allan (EAP: Authors and Artists para 6). Poe had and up and down relationship with his father, who would discipline him sometimes and show him love others (EAP: Wikipedia para 6). Edgar Allan Poe was given the best education possible when he was child (EAP: Authors and Artists para 7). Poe succeeded in many ways. He did extremely well in schools and athletics. Biographer Suzanne LeVert said, “His athletic exploits became legendary” (EAP: Authors and Artists para 8).

In 1836 Poe married his twelve year old cousin. Poe’s writings began to get attention in the 1830’s and 1840’s (Contemporary Authors Online para 3). Poe became a very gifted writer and poet throughout his life. This made it all the more sad to see that he died in 1849 at the age of 40 in an apparent alcohol related death (Edgar Allan Poe: Wikipedia para 19). Although it appears it was alcohol related there are other theories on the reason Poe died because he was not even wearing his own clothes when he was found which led to suspicion that he might have died because of cooping, or being forcing to vote(Edgar Allan Poe: Wikipedia para 19).

Poe was a very important writer and poet. First of all he was a very gifted poet and writer and that alone makes him important. But to go along with this Poe revolutionized the detective story. His detective, Dupin, was the model for the well known detective stories of Sherlock Holmes (EAP: Authors and Artists para 3). Poe was also a very well known literary critic (Edgar Allan Poe: Wikipedia para 26). Poe has been said to be one of the most important influences on the Symbolist movement in Europe because of his poetry (EAP: Authors and Artists para 3). Edgar Allan Poe as a result has definitely left a mark on modern literature.

Edgar Allan Poe writes about unique ideas. Edgar Allan Poe wrote bizarre and fantastic stories and poems (EAP: Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism 491). Many of his stories were horror stories. Being horror stories most of his works have a dark or gloomy mood. Having written mostly horror stories displays Poe’s thoughts. Since most of his thoughts have to do with horror, the way that both his parents died while he was young plays a part in creating these thoughts. A traumatic event like that can cause those kinds of thoughts. Also Poe liked to,

“[Place] the reader inside the tortured minds and lives of people confronting the supernatural” (EAP: Authors and Artists para 2). This way of writing caused Poe to be a unique writer. Also with being a unique writer he felt isolated from his peers. His unique personality was stemmed from his parents’ death. Therefore his parents’ death which caused his unique personality in turn caused him to be isolated from his peers and even caused him to write his poem “Alone”. Being a very bright man Poe created amazing tales and poems. Many of the poems and stories can be seen as a reflection upon his own life.

Most of Edgar Allan Poe’s poems can be seen as a direct reflection on his life experiences, which greatly influenced the talented writer. One of the biggest factors in his writing is the death of his parents. While Poe was only two years old his mother died. While he was one year old his father died shortly after leaving him. These are huge influences especially for such a young child. People have enough trouble dealing with death, particularly of their family, but at the age of two with both of his parents dead, Poe had learn to deal with it. The tragic event of both of his parents dying before he was even three years old is enough to leave a mark on anybody for the rest of his or her life. The effect of this mark is that he became isolated from his peers and in turn wrote some of his poetry about it, like his poem “Alone”. Also he probably felt disconnected from the world at times. This can be seen in his writing, and writing style. The dark gloomy moods of many of his poems can show that he is dark or gloom because he feels disconnected. Poe used his influence to write brilliant and fascinating stories. Inside of his writing if looked at close enough this event can be seen in many of the stories and poems of one of the greatest writers of all time.

The effect of Poe’s parents’ death on him may be great but what makes it more important is when his parents, specifically his mother, died. Only being three years old he saw his mother’s dead body. Biographer Mankowitz had this to say on the matter, “The small fairy- like figure of his mother […] illuminated by candles, an ultimate dream- lady deep in her mysterious sleep, remained one of the most haunting images of Poe’s childhood”(EAP: Authors and Artists para 5). From what Manokwitz has said, it can be determined that the death of his mother had an effect on him. The death of his mother being “one of the most haunting images of Poe’s childhood” shows just how much it affected Poe at an early age. Then he was isolated from his peers, which is shown in his poem “Alone”, in which he implies that he was alone as a child. An image like seeing a dead mother just won’t disappear. This image could have stayed with Poe for the rest of his life because some events stick in people’s minds forever. Poe seeing his dead mother is the kind of memory that is hard to shake because seeing death is scary. People fear death, so when they see death they don’t forget it. This is the same with a person who witnesses a murder; they will not forget it because it has to do with death. The same principle applies here to Poe when he saw his mother. Therefore it could have easily stuck in his mind for the rest of his life. Therefore it probably was transferred purposely into his poetry, specifically the poem “Alone”. This specific poem deals with his isolation as a child through a lonely tone. This can be attributed to the death of his parents and because of it, he probably felt disconnected from the world and alone. His poem, “Alone”, written in 1829 and released after his death is one of the best examples of the affect that the death of both of his parents had on him (Poems by Edgar Allan Poe: Wikipedia para 5).

Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Alone” is a very interesting poem that is reflective of his isolation as a child because of the death of his parents. The poem is about an isolated child. The child can be seen as Poe’s younger self. It says, “From childhood’s hour I have not been/

As others were” (Poe lines 1-2). Since Poe said “From childhood’s hour” it can be concluded that he means from an early age, which is when his parents died. When his parents died is the most crucial part of Edgar Allan Poe’s life because this is when his isolation starts, which is also indicated in the poem. Then he goes on to say “I have not been/ as others were” (Poe lines 1-2). This can reflect upon his isolation. At this time he was different. His parents were dead since he was very young and he felt different because of it. He became isolated. Poe continues on to say, “I have not seen/As others saw–I could not bring/My passions from a common spring” (Poe lines 2-3). This reiterates his point that he was a different child. He was not like other children because of his parents’ death which does not happen to most children at such a young age.

Later in his poem “Alone” Poe writes more about his isolation and the reason why he was isolated. In the poem he says this, “And all I lov’d – I lov’d alone” (Poe line 8). This can relate to a few different things. First of all he says everything that he loved he loved alone. That can mean that he was isolated because he liked different things. Also it means that the thing or someone he loved did not love him back. This could be a reference to his foster parents with whom he had an up and down relationship with, or it more likely means he was isolated because he was different from other people that didn’t like him even though he liked them. This rejection can cause isolation. This therefore shows how isolation affected him. He felt so isolated in life that he felt no one loved him back no matter how much love he showed them. After this line, a change occurs.

Poe says in the next lines, “Then-in my childhood-in the dawn/ Of a most stormy life” (Poe lines 9-10). This is a change in his life because he says “Then”, which is a transition word which can be seen as a symbol. This means this time period was a transition time for him. Also it means that a change occurred inside of Poe. The fact that “then” is italicized also puts emphasis on this change meaning it must have been a very important part of Poe’s early life. This change can be symbolic of a single event but it also means that at one point in his life he changed his mind set. Before he feels isolated but after he decides that there is good in life, despite his isolation. Poe goes on to talk about nature in lines 13 through 20. One instance of Poe’s use of nature is when he talks about the mysteries of nature. He says, “The mystery which binds me still-/From the torrent, or the fountain-“(Poe lines 12-13). Instead of seeing the dark side of everything he sees good things in nature. Therefore his entire mood shifts from the transition line. This could be symbolic of Poe coping with his parents’ death. After being isolated his whole childhood, not seeing life from an optimistic point of view, he tries to put his past behind him. Then at the end of the poem Poe says this, “Of a Demon in my view-“(Poe line 22). This shows that even though he tried to put the past behind him he couldn’t. His “demons” still were in him. The fact that it is the last line implies that he is still having trouble dealing with his isolated childhood, which is a direct effect of his parents’ deaths while he was very young.

Two lines before the last line he says, “And the cloud that took the form” (Poe line 20). The cloud he says takes the form of a demon in his view. This shows that he can’t get away or forget the image of his dead mother. He sees his past problems everywhere. Seeing them in the clouds is symbolic of the fact that we always see are past in our everyday life, and there is no escaping that. Therefore Poe felt isolated and also felt that there was no escaping his past, all because his parents’ died when he was a young, impressionable child.

Right after the change Poe says, “Of a most stormy life” (Poe line 10). This is symbolic of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. He had a troubled life highlighted by drinking problems, death all around him, and tough relationships with his foster parents. This means that out of those factors, of which the death of his parents is one, led to a tough life. Therefore the message that Poe tries to get across from this poem is how he was isolated as a child. This can be connected to the death of his mother because this happened while he was a child and also it is known that this was a traumatic experience during Poe’s childhood.

The tone of this poem is very lonely. This tone portrays his isolation as a child. Throughout the poem he writes lines that show he was different from everyone else, like in the first two lines, “From childhood’s hour I have not been/ As others were” (Poe lines 1-2). These two beginning lines set up the tone of the entire poem. He starts right off that bat talking about how he was isolated. This causes the reader to sense an underlying tone of him being alone and lonely often as a child because he felt isolated from everyone else. The reason he was isolated was because of his parents’ deaths when he was a child. He felt lonely without parents, so this was a dark time for Poe and he tried to show that by writing this poem and writing it with a very lonely tone to get his point across. That point being that he felt isolated as a child because of his parents’ deaths. Also the tone is dark and lonely at the end when he says, “And the cloud that took form/ of a demon in my view” (Poe lines 20, 22). The tone is dark and lonely because he is saying that everywhere he goes he remembers his past. He always remembers his childhood in which he was different from everyone else. He will always remember his mother’s tragic death. Since he will always remember it gives a gloomy tone in that he is saying there is no escaping the past. This makes the tone also seem lonely because it is a lonely feeling to know that the past is never gone no matter how much the person wants to forget it and that a person is stuck to live in their past.

In conclusion the lonely tone of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Alone” portrays his isolation as a child because of his parents’ deaths. The death of Edgar Allan Poe’s parents was the major influence in the way Poe writes. This is seen in the poem “Alone” because of the tone and the many symbols that refer back to Poe’s life. The event that caused his isolation as a child was the death of his parents. Therefore because his parents died Poe led an isolated life that he wrote about, specifically in the poem, “Alone”. While Poe led a stormy and troubled life because of his childhood isolation, he expressed his feelings on the subject in some of the greatest works of art in history.

Appendix A

Alone

by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were–I have not seen

As others saw–I could not bring

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 lov’d–I lov’d alone–

Then–in my childhood–in the dawn

Of a most stormy life–was drawn

From ev’ry depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still–

From the torrent, or the fountain–

From the red cliff of the mountain–

From the sun that ’round me roll’d

In its autumn tint of gold–

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass’d me flying by–

From the thunder, and the storm–

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view–


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