EDGAR ALLAN POE Essay, Research Paper
Many authors have made great contributions to the world of literature. Mark TwainIntroduced Americans to life on the Mississippi. Thomas Hardy wrote on his pessimistic views ofthe Victorian Age. Another author that influenced literature is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is known asthe father of the American short stories and father of the detective story. To understand the literaryContributions of Edgar Allan Poe, one must look at his early life, his literary life, and a summary oftwo of his famous works. “Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston” (Inglis 505) “on January 19, 1809” (Asselineau409). He was born to a southern family that were in a traveling company of actors (Inglis 505).His father, David Poe, was from a Baltimore family. He was an actor by profession and a heavydrinker. Soon after Edgar Allan Poe was born, he left his family. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth ArnoldPoe, was a widow at the age of eighteen. Two years after his birth, she died of tuberculosis(Asselineau 409). When his mother died, Poe was adopted by John Allan (Perry XI) at the urgingof Mr. Allan’s wife. In 1815, John Allan moved his family to England. While there, Poe was sentto private schools (Asselineau 410). In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia. There he studied Spanish,French, Italian, and Latin. He had an excellent scholastic record. He got into difficulties almost atonce. Mr. Allan did not provide him with the money to pay for his fees and other necessities. Poewas confused and homesick. He learned to play cards and started drinking. Soon he was in debtin excess of two thousand dollars. Poe discovered that he could not depend upon Allan forfinancial support. His foster father refused to pay his debts, and Poe had to withdraw from theUniversity (Asselineau 410). In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier. He did this under thename of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor for over ayear. Poe adapted very well to military discipline and quickly rose to the rank of regimentalsergeant major. After a while, he got tired of the same daily routine involved in military life. Poewrote regularly to Mr. Allan. He met with Mr. Allan after the death of Mrs. Allan in February of1829. With Allan’s support, he received his discharge and enlisted in West Point on July 1, l830(Asselineau 410). While at West Point, Mr. Allan, who had remarried, continued in not providingPoe with enough money. Poe decided to have himself kicked out of school. Cutting classes anddisregarding orders were his solutions. He was court-martialed for neglect of duties in January,1831, and left West Point the following month (Asselineau 411). “Poe was great in three different fields , and in each one he made a reputation that wouldgive any man a high place in literary history. Poe wrote great short stories, famous not only in hisown country, but all over the world (Robinson V).” “Hawthorne, Irving, Balzac, Bierce, Crane,Hemingway and other writers have given us memorable short stories; but none has produced sogreat a number of famous and unforgettable examples, so many tales that continue, despitechanging standards to be read and reprinted again and again throughout the world (Targ VII).”"Poe was the father of the modern short story, and the modern detective story (Targ VII).” “Withthe possible exception of Guy de Maupassant, no other writer is so universally known andesteemed for so large of a corpus of excellent tales as in Edgar Allan Poe (Targ VII).” In 1831, Poe succeeded in publishing a new edition of his poems entitled, Poems. Poewas now in great difficulty. He went to New York, but could find no job there. Eventually hetook refuge with his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, in Baltimore. There he decided to seek employment andmake his living by writing. Failing to get attention with his poems, he decided to start writing shortstories. Poe competed in a contest for the best short story in 1831. The prize was offered byPhil-Saturday Courier. Because he did not win the prize, Poe started on an ambitious project. Hedecided to plan a series of tales told by members of a literary group. He found no publisher forhis stories, and entered the contest again in June of 1835. This time he sent one poem and sixstories (Asselineau 411). His story, “Ms. Found in a Bottle,” won , and he received one hundreddollars for it (Targ IX). Through the influence of one of the judges, John P. Kennedy, Poebecame employed as an editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, published in Richmond(Asselineau 411). Under Poe’s editorship, the Messenger ’s circulation rose from 500 to 3500.While in Richmond, Poe married his cousin, Virginia, who was not quite fourteen years old. Poewas fired from the Messenger in January of 1837. Poe then went to New York, where he was unsuccessful. In the summer of 1838, hemoved to Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, he worked as the editor of both Burton’sGentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine (Asselineau 412). Even though he won a onehundred dollar prize for “The Gold Bug” (Robinson VI), he moved to New York. Poe found ajob in New York as an assistant editor for the Evening Mirror. This was where “The Raven” firstappeared on January 29, 1845. “The poem immediately caught the imagination of the public andwas reprinted all over the country and even abroad in all kinds of newspapers and magazines, butPoe pocketed only a few dollars for his poems (Asselineau 413).” The year of 1845 was a luckyyear for Poe. He published a collection of his Tales and an edition of his poems named TheRaven and Other Poems . He also became the editor of the weekly Broadway Journal. Poebroke down when Virginia died in January of 1848 ( Asselineau 413). In 1849, Poe died inBaltimore (Targ IX). “Instead of really living, he took refuge from the physical world in the privateworld of his dreams-in other words-in the world of his tales (Asselineau 413).” In the “Masque of the Red Death”, Poe uses his imagination throughout the story (Rogers43). A plague has devastated the entire country. It takes only half an hour tofor the course of thedisease to run. At first one feels sharp pains and dizziness. Then one starts bleeding at the pores.The disease results in death. Prince Prospero has ordered one thousand lords and ladies to thedeep seclusion of one of his abbeys. The building was built by the Prince and is filled with hisexotic ornaments. It is sealed from the outside world by a huge wall with iron gates. Inside thebuilding are dancers, musicians, and everything they need in order to stay secluded until the plagueruns its course. After six months of seclusion, the Prince decides to hold a masked ball. The ballis held in a suite with seven rooms. Each room is decorated in a single color. The last room isdecorated in red. Within this room stands a huge clock that strikes the hour with a heavy clang.The rooms are very crowded for the ball. At the stroke of midnight, a guest is seen in a costumeof the red death itself and This frightens the other guests. The Prince is angered at what hebelieves to be a practical joke. He orders the stranger seized and hanged from the battlements.Prince Prospero follows the stranger into the red chamber. It is there that Prince Prospero fallsdead at the feet of the stranger. The others capture the unknown person in the costume. To theirhorror they find there is no living form in the costume. One by one they die until no one elseremains. Death is king of all (Rogers 41). “The horror abysmal darkness, and absolute helplessness befalling the victims aredescribed with vivid accuracy in tales such as ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ ‘The Cask ofAmontillado,’ and ‘The Premature Burial’ (Perry XI-XII).” In “The Fall of the House of Usher,”the narrator visits his insane friend, Roderick Usher. Usher’s house is huge and gloomy (Rogers20). His twin sister, Madeline, gets sick and dies. The narrator and Usher place her in a tomb inthe basement of Usher’s house. What they do not realize is that she is still barely alive. Usherkeeps on hearing sounds over the next couple of days. The seventh day after Madeline’s death, abad storm appears. The narrator and Usher open the door of the narrator’s room and Madelinefalls on Usher . They both die. The narrator then leaves the house. As he rides away, the housecollapses to the floor (Rogers 21).