GOTHIC ELEMENTS IN EDGAR Allen Poe’s Writings Edgar Allan Poe was perhaps one of the most widely read and influential writers in Americas narrative history. He was born in Boston in 1809 to a family of traveling actors. His name at birth was simply Edgar Poe, but after the early death of both of his parents, he was taken in by the Allans. Thus he obtained the adopted name of Allan which he used as a middle name. From June 1815 until July 1820 Edgar was in England with the Allans, and from February until December 1826 he studied at the University of Virginia.
Nevertheless, he met his first and last love, Elmira Royster, while he was studying. He asked her to marry him twice, and even though he was accepted both times he never married her. His stay at the University of Virginia was cut short by his wild lifestyle, which involved a great amount of gambling. However, his life was not one of total happiness. Edgar Allan Poe was an epileptic, manic-depressive, and a neurophiliac. Perhaps his life of sorrow is what made him the great writer which everyone knows him as He is a figure who appears once an epoch, before passing into myth. Edgar Allan Poe can be called a gothic writer by his unique use of medieval settings, murky atmospheres, and mysterious and violent incidents. Poe was a very talented writer with a vigorous imagination. Along with his immense writing ability and intense imagination; Poe had a seemingly boundless vocabulary.
He mostly wrote poems and tales of dark and terror-causing subjects. Poe wrote many poems, and to the English language The Raven is one of the most recognized. He also published one novel along with the stories which he contributed to his many journals. Poe wrote sixty-eight tales during his lifetime, but only a few are known by everyone. Edgar Allan Poes writings still hold their uniqueness in our literature through their possessions of shady surroundings and somewhat weird characters and events. In many of his poems Edgar Allan Poe placed the characters or events in somewhat medieval settings.
His use of unique places stands out particularly in his world famous The Raven and also in Ulalume. In The Raven the poet is grieving the death of his lover Lenore in a chamber. Throughout the poem the narrator questions a raven which has flown into his chamber if he will ever see his lost love again. After every question that he asks, the bird simply replies nevermore. In Ulalume the poet is in a spirit-haunted woodland. Ulalume is the name of the poets long dead love. In the poem the poet visits the tomb of his dead lover, yet he cannot figure out what demon made him come back to the gravesite. Poe also used medieval settings in some of his tales.
The events in the tales happen all in the same placea remote, inaccessible surroundingbut the place each time is newly and splendidly decorated. The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado are two excellent examples of his use of giving his tales unique settings. In The Fall of the House of Usher the mansion appears to have a dull and mystic vapor when looked at through water. In the tale the fungi covered front of the mansion and the names of the characters give the story its unusual setting. In The Cask of Amontillado Montresor encaves Fortunado in a crypt to slowly die.
After becoming drunk by Montresors wine, Fortunado finds himself in one of the tombs that hold Montresors ancestors. He awakens just in time to see the last of the bricks go in place to encase him in the cellar. Edgar also used a gloomy atmosphere in a majority of his poems and tales. The City in the Sea, Dream-Land, and A Paean are just of few of his poems that possess his one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In The City in the Sea Death reins in the town.
The town itself is actually founded by Death. In Dream-Land the land is made of lonely lakes and swamps. The land in the poem is ruled by a phantom called Night. In A Paean the girls friends are pleased that she died. The entire poem reflects on the secret pleasure of the characters about the death of the rich and beautiful young girl.
Poe used the same type of atmosphere in most of his tales; especially in The Premature Burial and The Fall of the House of Usher. In The Premature Burial the author mentions several accounts of people being buried alive. The entire tale is supposed to reveal the terror which goes along with being buried before death. The House of Usher looks out upon a black and lurid tarn and is surrounded by decaying vegetation. The tale shows how the sickness of Lady Usher plays on Roderick Ushers nerves and leads him to dying from fright when he realizes he has buried his sister prematurely.
Along with his use of medieval settings and gloomy atmospheres, Edgar Allan Poe also used accounts of violent actions throughout his works. The Black Cat and Annabel Lee serve as good examples of his use of barbaric actions. In The Black Cat the narrator tries to kill a cat with an axe but his wife intervenes. He then buries the axe in her head. In Annabel Lee the girl is taken and killed and buried in a tomb by the sea.
The narrator mourns the loss of his beloved Annabel Lee throughout the entire poem. Perhaps the most known use of Poes use of violent actions comes from his tales. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, William Wilson, and The Tell-Tale Heart stand out as good examples of the use of savage actions. William Wilson is a story about the life and crime of the narrator which takes the name of the tale. He tries to seduce the wife of a host who is throwing a party and is caught by the host. This time, however, he drags the offender into an antechamber and kills him with his sword. Even though the character only commits one crime, it leads him to suicide.
In The Murders in the Rue Morgue a woman and her daughter have been murdered, and the narrator is attempting to find the bodies, when he finds a clue. But a large amount of soot was lying in the fireplace, and they soon found the corpse of the daughter thrust up the chimney, head downward. He also finds the body of the mother in an alley close to the house with the head cut off. In The Tell-Tale Heart the narrator is driven mad the eye of his landlord. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him.
In his devious plan to kill the old man, the narrator chops the body of the man into small parts and conceals them under the steps inside the gentleman’s house. Edgar Allen Poes unique writing ability earned him the fame he sought after all of his life. However, this fame did not come until after he was well into his grave. Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday.
This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was known, personally or by reputation, in all this country: he had readers in England, and in several of the states of continental Europe: but he had few or no friends. Many people wondered what Poe died from, but the same idea was shared by everyone: Poes death is almost a suicide-a suicide a long time in preparation. Poe was known to have a drinking problem as a result of his manic-depressive character. Alcoholism probably led him to his suicide, but no one knows the exact cause of his passing. Many people ask what caused the horror that made Poe what everyone knows him by.
There are several ideas that explain the problem. Poe faced the death of several close people in his early years of life. Some believe that the loss of his parents, foster-parents, and friends started the gloomy shadow that would forever follow him. His life became stricken with suicide attempts, delirium, and failing romantic entanglements after the death of his wife Virginia. Poe faced long periods of bankruptcy and little or no fame. Others believe that his lack of money and popularity caused the problem. Perhaps his manic-depressiveness caused him to drink so much. Whatever the cause of his death may be, it led to birth of one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century.
Edgar Allan Poes use of ancient settings, sorrowful atmospheres, and odd and brutal actions have made him the greatest of gothic writers.