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Edgar Allan Poe Essay Research Paper Whitman

Edgar Allan Poe Essay, Research Paper

Whitman, Dickinson, Crane, Frost, Cummings, and Longfellow. All

examples of prominent and reputable men and women of the past who had one

thing in common: a love for poetry. They wrote on the dignity of man,

nature, war, politics, theology and of nursery rhymes. Yet there was one

poet who was prominent but not reputable or well liked. He was known as

Edgar Allan Poe. Due to his drinking, reviewers have made him sound like

the town drunk who staggers around writing stories of death and horror.

“With the aid of his psychological stories, critics have proclaimed him

necrophilic, dipsomanic, paranoid, impotent, neurotic, oversexed, a

habitual taker of drugs, until all that is left in the public eye is an

unstable creature sitting gloomily in a dim room, the raven over the

door, the bottle on the table, the opium in the pipe, scribbling mad

verses” (Bittner http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/poe/alumnews/poe-all.html).

Poe was criticized by many because his life was marred by infrequent but

intense drinking bouts that gave him a bad reputation and although he

was said to be a “habitual taker of drugs” and insane, he was none of

these and in fact virtually created the detective story and perfected the

psychological thriller – a testament to his brilliance and sanity.

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is, if not the first of its kind, the

first work of fiction in which a crime is solved by extensive analysis.

Poe attributes the popularity of this story to being “something in a

new key . . . people think they are more ingenious than they are–on

account of their method and air of method. In the ‘Murders in the Rue

Morgue,’ for instance, where is the ingenuity of unraveling a web which you

yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of

unraveling?”(Poe http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/poe/alumnews/poe-all.html). Poe

expressed the detective in the story, C. Auguste Dupin, as being abstract;

wandering around at night and having a sort of sleepy quality to his

voice and eyes but Dupin used this to his advantage because his opponents

would underestimate him. Overall, however, Dupin’s success resulted

from close inquiry and diligent observation as well as thoughtful

insights. This portrayal of a detective not only pays tribute to the brilliance

of Edgar Allan Poe, but it obliterates all of the rumors surrounding

his life and writings.

“The Tell-Tale Heart,” a dramatic monologue, is marked yet again by the

narrator telling his story to show the reader how smart he is. An

aspect of the story that is especially brilliant is the hallucinative

“tell-tale” heartbeats which drive the speaker, who has murdered an elderly

man, to confess his crime. Also effective are the other, remarkable,

elements such as the old man’s deformed “evil eye” and the “groan of

mortal terror” the narrator hears coming from the old man: “I knew the sound

well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has

welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the

terrors that distracted me.” Subsequently the wording that Poe integrates

into this story is not wording used by the insane but diction thought

of by extremely sound mind.

Ever since Poe’s short stories first began to appear in the 1830s

readers have been intrigued by the nature of the man or the mind that

produced them. Was he as demonic or demented as the characters of his horror

tales, and as logical or intuitive as the heroes of his detective and

mystery stories? Contrary to popular legend, Poe was neither an

alcoholic nor a drug addict, though he did struggle during much of his adult

life against a inclination to drink during times of grief or despair. Poe

had many a reason that could excuse his alcoholic tendencies

considering so many people that were close to him died of consumption or

tuberculosis. It would seem as if his mind went through cycles of destruction

having a “really good day” and then seemingly out of nowhere doing

something stupid (i.e.: trying to sell magazine advertisements to the


Many people criticized Edgar Allan Poe since his life was marked with

periodic drinking stretches that impressed a bad reputation upon himself

and while being labeled as a druggie and lunatic, he was none of these

and in fact set many a precedent concerning fictional thrillers and

detective stories, “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the

breath of life into it?” (Doyle http://www.astin-poe.com/poe.html).

Poe, while not well liked in his time, is a phenomenal person who is

one of the most recognized poets and writers ever to touch pen to paper.

?How did he(Poe) live there(America), this finest of fine artists, this

born aristocrat of letters? Alas! he did not live there: he died there,

and was duly explained away as a drunkard and a failure… He was the

greatest journalistic critic of his time… His poetry is exquisitely

refined… In his stories of mystery and imagination Poe created a world

record for the English language: perhaps for all languages…

unparalleled and unapproached… Poe constantly and inevitably produced magic

where his greatest contemporaries produced only beauty… There is really

nothing to be said about it; we others simply take off our hats and let

Mr. Poe go first? (Shaw http://www.astin-poe.com/quotes.html).

“By wine some vow Poe’s wit inspired to be,

And say that they can prove his verses show it;

More likely, I should fancy, it was tea,

For clearly it is t turns Poe to poet”