Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe For some class on some date with some professor The Influence of Family and Friends on Poe Over the course of Poes forty year stay on Earth, he was exposed early to several key people who would have a profound impact on his writings. Though this idea in and of itself is not uncommon in literature, for Poe it went far beyond being merely influenced. Beginning at age 3 when he lost his parents, Poe was subjected to a difficult life that would later play heavily in his works. Between his foster father (John Allan), his first love (Sarah Elmis Royster) and his young first wife (Virginia Cleem), Poes contacts largely dictated his works. How was it that such an obviously brilliant individual like Poe allowed himself to be mentally manipulated by these people? To answer this question, it is necessary to take a step back and first get a little background. Edgar Allen Poe was born on January 19, 1809 to two struggling actors, David and Elizabeth Poe. When his father died at the age of 36, Edgar was left alone with his pregnant mother. He traveled with his mother and sister from theater to theater, often sleeping backstage.

When his mother died of tuberculosis on December 11, 1811 at the young age of 24, Edgar and his sister, Rosalie, were orphaned. Edgar was only two years old. His sister was sent to live with a Mrs. Mackenzie when she was one, Edgar went to live with John and Frances Allen. Edgar’s older brother William, was already living with their grandfather, David Poe, Sr., because at the time of his birth, David and Elizabeth could not afford to care for him. Edgar moved to Richmond, Virginia with the Allans, where he had many luxuries that he had never had before.

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He had his own bedroom in the apartment above John Allen’s store, Ellis & Allen, and even servants to help him wash before bed and put away his clothes. Growing up, Edgar never got along with his foster father, often arguing with him, and rarely showing any affection. John Allen once even described his son as “miserable, sulky, and ill-tempered”. There was also the matter of Edgar’s alcoholism, which brought shame upon his foster family and friends. Even his beloved first fiancee Sarah Elmira Royster, eventually refused to see him, because of his drinking habits. One night after a particularly bitter argument with Mr.

Allen, he decided to leave his home and go to Boston. Boston was only the short term answer and soon Poe was disillusioned with the city. After an unpleasant month in Boston, Edgar was once again on the road. After having a few poems published and withdrawing from a military academy he eventually wound up in Baltimore, Maryland, penniless. He soon found that his relatives there were as poor as he was. Even so, they welcomed him into their homes and hearts. He stayed for a while in the home of his aunt, Maria Clemm.

Also living with Mrs. Clemm were her two children, Henry, 13, and Virginia; Poe’s cousin and future wife. In addition, his paralyzed grandmother and his dying brother William, 24 also resided there. He tried unsuccessfully to get a job at several newspapers, before seeing a contest for the best short story in the local paper. Being rather poor, Poe proceeded writing short stories in attempt to win the $100 winners prize.

Even though he did not win the $100 for his efforts, Poe did have some of the stories published in the years to come, but he never had anything to show for it , because the newspaper did not give him credit for writing the stories. Poe was offered a job back in Richmond, and he had to leave Baltimore(and worse, Virginia, with whom he had fallen in love) to take the job. He rapidly fell into depression while in Richmond over the absence of his beloved Virginia and was driven once again to drinking. . Poe’s drinking had gotten out of hand and he was fired.

He went back to Baltimore on the spot and asked for Virginia’s hand in marriage. They got married a year later. Soon after he was wed, he was re-offered the job in Richmond, but only if he promised to never drink again. He promised to never let another sip of liquor pass his lips, and went to Richmond, this time taking Virginia and his aunt Maria. This would prove to be the high point of Poes life.

Not due to any success or recognition, but more importantly he was happy if only for a brief time. In the years to come there would be both better and worse times in Edgar’s life. After moving from the city his life totally fell apart, he had to shut down his newspaper because of bad reviews, his wife was growing increasingly ill, and he was sick as well. He eventually broke his vow and went back to drinking, which only caused problems. Several times he was found wandering drunk in the streets of New York where he had recently relocated with his wife and mother-in-law after taking an editing job at the Broadway Journal. Virginia did not take to life in the city, however, and asked Edgar to move to the country. Eager to please his beloved wife, who was stricken with tuberculosis, he agreed. Virginia’s long struggle finally ended on January 29, 1847 at the age of 24, the very age as Edgar’s mother when she died. After her death Poe was inconsolable, once again thrown into the depths of depression and despair.

If there were any positives about Virginias death, it would be that Poe was once again inspired to write. His post-Virginia material made up in pure genius what it lost in good mood. These works can be distinguished as dark and morbid, traits not unlike his earlier work. They did however change subject matter even as they retained mood. In the “Oval Portrait” for example, Poe writes of a man obsessed with creating the ideal portrait of his new wife.

The piece is finally created at the cost of the young models life. The parallels to Poes own life are fairly obvious. He, like the painter, sacrificed everything for his art only to realize later that the price was too high. The first poem that he wrote after her death was Ulalume, a poem recalling a lover’s visit to his loved one’s grave. Poe writes: Then my heart it grew ashen and sober As the leaves that were crisped and sere- As the leaves that were withering and sere- And I cried- “It was surely October On this very night of last year That I journeyed- I journeyed down here- That I brought a dread burden down here- On this night of all nights in the year, Ah, what demon has tempted me here? Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber- This misty mid region of Weir- : Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber, This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.” The tone of this poem perfectly reflects how forlorn Poe was at this point in his life.

His mastery of setting the mood is unequaled in all literature. Another aspect that puts Poe above the rest is his technique that compliments his style. A writing style that was entirely unique. His uniqueness can again be attributed to the people who passed through his life. All of Poe’s other writings reflect his life, be it sad or happy.

As aforementioned, Poe had problems with his foster dad. As a result, Poe often portrayed men as bad people in his short stories. In the “Cask of Amontillado”, the protagonist is an apparently insane man who walls up his foe is his underground vaults. “Hop-Frog” has a sinister king burned alive by his abused midget. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is another deranged man who slaughters an old man in his sleep and the list goes on.

The very best example of this would have to be “The Black Cat”. The classic tale of man who comes home in a drunken daze. He is angered by his cat and in attempt to kill the animal with an ax, the main character buries the axes head into his wife, killing her. For the remainder of the story he is tormented by his failure to kill the cat. That, coupled with the loss of his wife, devour his mind until he is a rambling mess. It is fairly clear where the inspirations come from in that story, as well as many of his others.

The situations change, but the end result is always the man being portrayed in a poorly in his short stories (This isnt necessarily true in Poes poetry, which tends to feature more topics on loss and grief). This portrayals can be largely attributed to the daily struggle Poe had with John Allan. For Poe to create some mythical land where his relationships with males are tolerable, would have been untrue to himself as a writer. He is effect …

Edgar Allan Poe

.. ar left for the University he was engaged to Elmira. The affair, however, was not made known to the adults of either household. In February, 1826, Edgar A. Poe matriculated at the University of Virginia.

He was then only a little more than seventeen, but his manhood may be said to have begun. His position at the University was a precarious one. As the son of a wealthy man he had a great deal of credit and Poe himself was prone to live up to the reputation. On the other hand his foster-father appears even at this time to have been so alienated from his ward that he provided him with considerably less than the amount necessary to pay his way. The young student made a rather brilliant record in his studies but also fell in with a somewhat fast set of youths. In order to maintain his position he began to play heavily; lost, and used his credit with local shopkeepers recklessly.

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It is at this time also that we first hear of his drinking. The effects of a very little alcohol on Poe’s constitution were devastating. He appears to have been a brilliant, but rather eccentric and decidedly nervous youth. Another cause of strain at this period was the unhappy progress of his love affair. Mr. and Mrs. Royster were evidently aware of the fact that young Poe was no longer regarded as an heir by his foster-father.

They had, of course, soon learned of his love affair with their daughter and now brought pressure to break off the match. Poe’s letters to his sweetheart were intercepted; Elmira was forbidden to write; the attentions of an eligible young bachelor, A. Barrett Shelton, were pressed upon her, and she was finally sent away for a while into safe keeping. In the meantime Mr. Allan was informed of the financial difficulties of his ward whose indebtedness is said to have totalled $2500. His anger became extreme, and upon the return of Poe to Richmond to spend the Christmas holidays of 1826, he was advised by his guardian that he could not return to the University.

The opening weeks of 1827 were spent in Richmond in the most strained relation between young Poe and Mr. Allan. Poe’s career at the University had no doubt been very unsatisfactory. On the other hand Mr. Allan’s anger was implacable and extreme. He refused to pay any of his ward’s debts of honor, or any other debts, thereby reducing the proud spirit of the youngster whom he had raised as his son to despair.

The young Poe was pressed by warrants. His foster-father used the opportunity to insist upon his reading law and abandoning all literary ambitions. On this rock apparently they finally split. A violent quarrel took place between them in March, 1827, at the conclusion of which the young poet dashed into the street and went to an inn whence he wrote demanding his trunk, personal belongings and clothes. Several letters passed between the two without a reconciliation being effected.

Their mutual grievances were rehearsed and Poe finally concluded, despite his utter destitution, to work his way North to Boston, then the literary capital of the United States. Mr. Allan it appears tried to interfere, but his wife and her sister seem to have supplied Poe secretly with a small sum of money by means of one of the slaves before the young man set out on his travels. Under the assumed name of Henri Le Rennet he left Richmond with one companion, Ebenezer Burling, and reached Norfolk, Va. Here Burling left him while Poe went by ship to Boston where he arrived almost penniless some time in April, 1827.

He did not, as has so often been asserted, even by himself, go abroad. The dates of his known whereabouts taken from letters and documents at this time definitely preclude even the possibility of a European trip. In Boston there is some obscure evidence that Poe attempted to support himself by writing for a newspaper. It is certain, however, that while in Boston during the spring and summer of 1827 he made friends with a young printer, one Calvin F. S. Thomas then newly embarked in the trade, and prevailed on him to print a volume of verse, Tamerlane and Other Poems. The printer does not appear to have known Poe by any but an assumed name.

The title page of the little volume proclaimed the work to be By A Bostonian. The bulk of it, probably due to Poe’s inability to recompense the printer, was apparently destroyed or suffered to lie in neglect. Only a few copies of it got into circulation and only two obscure notices appeared. Poe himself seems to have secured scarcely some for personal use. In the meantime the author of this unknown but now famous little volume was reduced to the greatest extremity.

Totally without means and too proud or unable to appeal to Richmond, he finally as a desperate measure enlisted in the United States Army on May 26, 1827, under the assumed name of Edgar A. Perry. He was assigned to Battery H of the First U. S. Artillery and spent the summer of 1827 in the barracks of Fort Independence, Boston Harbor.

At the end of October his regiment was ordered to Fort Moultrie, Charleston, S. C. The ensuing two and a half years form a curious interlude in the life of a poet. Poe spent the time between November, 1827, and December, 1829, doing garrison duty as an enlisted man at Ft. Moultrie, S. C.

The fort was located on Sullivan’s Island at the mouth of the harbor. The young soldier had a good deal of spare time on his hands which was evidently spent in wandering along the beaches, writing poetry, and reading. His military duties were light and wholly clerical, as he had soon been noticed by his officers better fitted for office work than for practice at the great-guns. Of this period, and of his doings and imaginings, the best record is the Gold Bug, written many years later, but replete with exact local color and scenes. Poe’s duties evidently brought him into close contact with his officers. He was steady, sober, and intelligent; and promotion ensued.

We soon find him listed as an artificer, the first step out of the ranks. He himself, however, felt that his life was being wasted and some time in 1828 correspondence was resumed with his foster-father in Richmond, the purport of which was a request for reconciliation and a return to civil life. Although Poe’s letters were touching, appealing, and penitent, his guardian was obstinate and the youth remained at his post until December, 1828, when his regiment was ordered to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Seeing that his guardian would not consent to having him return home, he now conceived the idea of entering West Point. Some of the officers of his regiment, a surgeon in particular, became interested, and influence was brought to bear on John Allan.

On January 1, 1829, Poe, still serving under the name of Perry, was promoted to Sergeant-Major of his regiment, the highest rank open to an enlisted man. His letters home became more insistent and to them were now added the prayers of Mrs. Allan, who was dying. She desired to see her dear boy before she expired. Strange as it may seem, John Allan remained firm until the very last.

He finally sent for his foster-son, then only a few miles away from Richmond, but it was too late. Mrs. Allan died before Poe arrived home, and despite her dying request not to be buried until her foster-son returned, her husband proceeded with the funeral. When Poe arrived at the house a few hours later all that he loved most was in the ground. His agony at the grave is said to have been extreme.

Mrs. Allan had extracted a promise from her husband nevertheless, not to abandon Poe. A partial reconciliation now took place and Mr. Allan consented to help Poe in his plan to enter West Point. Letters were written to the Colonel of his regiment, a substitute was secured, and the young poet found himself discharged from the army on April 15, 1829. He returned for a short period to Richmond. Poe remained only a short time at home.

He secured, largely through his own solicitation, a number of letters of influence to the War Department. Armed with these, and a very cold letter from his guardian who averred, Frankly, sir, do I declare that he is no relation to me whatever – he set out about May 7th for Washington where he presented his credentials, including a number of recommendations of his officers couched in the highest terms, to the Secretary of War, Mr. Eaton. A long delay of almost a year occurred, during which his appointment to West Point was in doubt. During most of this period, May, 1829, to the end of that year, he resided in Baltimore.

His foster-father supplied him from time to time with small sums just sufficient to keep him alive, and remained cold and suspicious of his good intentions as to West Point. In the meantime young Poe, after being robbed by a cousin at a hotel, sought shelter with his Aunt Maria Clemm, the sister of his father. In the household of this good woman, who was from the first his guardian angel, Poe found his grandmother, Mrs. David Poe, Sr., then an aged and paralyzed woman, his brother Henry, and his first cousin Virginia Clemm, a little girl about seven years old. She later became the poet’s wife. During this stay in Baltimore Poe exerted himself to further his literary name.

Shortly after his arrival we find him calling on William Wirt, just retired from active political life in Washington, author of Letters of a British Spy, and a man of considerable literary reputation. Poe left with Wirt the manuscript of Al Aaraaf and received from him a letter of advice rather than recommendation. The incident, however, shows that he had then on hand the manuscript for a second volume of poems. These consisted of several which had appeared in his first volume, much revised, and some new ones. He now went to Philadelphia and left the manuscript with Carey, Lea and Carey, a then famous publishing firm, who demanded a guarantee before they would print it. Poe wrote to his guardian asking him to support the little volume to the extent of $100, but received an angry denial and strict censure for contemplating such an action. By July 28th he bad, however, apparently arranged for publication of the volume in Baltimore and wrote to Carey, Lea and Carey withdrawing the manuscript. Through Baltimore friends and relatives he was enabled to reach the ear of John Neal, then an influential Boston editor, and the forthcoming work received some helpful notices in the September and December issues of the Yankee for 1829.

The book itself, entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, was published by Hatch and Dunning in Baltimore in December, 1829. Somewhat mollified by this success and the notice it attracted, but much more so by the assurance that his foster-son was about to receive his long delayed appointment to the Military Academy, Mr. Allan permitted Edgar to return to Richmond where fie stayed from January to May, 1830, at the big mansion. His life in Baltimore had been a poverty-haunted one, and the return to his former mode of existence was undoubtfully a welcome one to Poe. Mr.

Allan, however, had his own private reasons for desiring to have his ward out of Richmond as soon as possible. He had resumed intimate relations with a former companion after the death of his wife and was now expecting an unwelcome addition to his natural children. Quarrels with Poe were renewed. After a peculiarly bitter one Poe wrote a letter to a former acquaintance in the army, a sergeant to whom he owed a small sum of money. In this he permitted himself to make an unfortunate statement about his guardian. The letter was later used by the man to collect from Mr.

Allan the amount due him and was the final cause of Poe’s being cast off. The appointment to the Military Academy was received at the end of March. The examinations for entrance were held at West Point at the end of June, and in May Poe bade farewell to his guardian and left for the Military Academy, visiting his Baltimore relatives on the way. On July 1, 1830, he took the oath and was admitted as cadet at West Point. Poe’ remained at the United States Military Academy from June 25, 1830, to February 19, 1831. There can be no doubt that the military career was distasteful to him and that be had been forced into it by his guardian in whose fortune he might still hope to share.

Mr. Allan, however, regarded his duties as fulfilled, with Edgar provided for at the public charge, and was glad to have him away from Richmond. On the day that Poe entered West Point, his guardian was presented with a pair of natural twins for whom he later on arranged in his will. This did not prevent his marrying a second time, nevertheless, and the new relation made him more than ever inimical to his foster son. Edgar Poe continued to perform his duties creditably at the Military Academy when all hope of any help in the future from Mr.

Allan was shattered by a letter from Richmond which disowned him. The soldier had presented to his guardian the letter written by Poe a year before, and the rage of Mr. Allan was extreme. Realizing that all hope of a competence from Richmond was now at an end, Poe decided to take things in to his own hands and leave the army forever. As he could not obtain Mr. Allan’s consent to resign he went on strike and neglected to attend formations, classes, or church.

He was court martialled and dismissed for being disobedient. While at the Military Academy he had arranged with Elam Bliss, a New York publisher, to bring out a third volume of poems to which the student body at the Academy had subscribed. In February, 1831, he went to New York. He was penniless, illy clad, and nearly died of a cold complicated by internal ear trouble, after reaching the city. Forced to eat humble pie he again appealed to his guardian, but in vain.

He remained in New York long enough to see his third volume off the press. It was entitled Poems, Second Edition, and contained a preface addressed to Dear B., a person unknown, in which some of the young author’s critical opinions, largely ‘taken from Coleridge, were first set forth. After attempting abortively to obtain letters of introduction to Lafayette from Col. Thayer, the Superintendent at West Point, in order to join the Polish patriots then revolting against Russia, Poe left New York and journeyed by way of Philadelphia to Baltimore. He arrived in the latter city some time about the end of March, 1831, and again took up his residence at Mechanics Row, Milk Street, with his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia.

His brother Henry was then in ill health, given over to drink, and dying. The next four years were spent in Baltimore under conditions of extreme poverty. Poe was still obscure and his doings for much of the time are very vague. A few facts, however, can be certainly glimpsed. During most of the Baltimore period Poe must have followed the life of a recluse.

He now began to turn his attention to prose and was able to place a few stories with a Philadelphia publication. His brother Henry died in August, 1831. Edgar continued to live with the Clemms. The household was poverty stricken, he himself was not in very good health part of the time. What the family lived on is not clear.

Attempts were made to interest Mr. Allan once more in his behalf but in vain. No relief came from Richmond except upon one occasion when on account of a debt contracted by his brother Henry, Edgar was in danger of being imprisoned. Mr. Allan sent a belated response which was the last that Poe ever received f Biographies.