Essay, Research Paper
Edgar Allan Poe was an author who wrote dark and sinister stories and poems and whose motives in writing such works were closely related to his life. Edgar Allan Poe has captured the attention of many of his readers, but what is not said is that his life affected his works. His dark and sinister works link the innermost side of Poe to that of his pieces. One of his most famous poems is “The Raven.” Woodberry stated in his 1st volume of The Life of Edgar Allan Poe that, ” ‘The Raven’ and ‘Ulalume’ are in his poetry, the richest of his imaginative work.” The poem gives many insights to Poe’s life. The poem is about a man in a room all by himself. “Leave my loneliness unbroken!” (Poe) He is then visited by a raven, which says nothing, but “Nevermore.” It brings out the thoughts and feelings of the lonely man. This lonely man (the name of the man was never mentioned), is like a mirror image of Poe.
During the time that Poe was rewriting “The Raven” (the original was written ten years before), life was really hard for him.
“He had been for ten years a writer of untiring industry, and in that time had produced an amount of work large in quantity and excellent in quality, much of it belonging in the very highest rank of imaginative prose; but his books had never sold, and the income from his tales and other papers in the magazines when he was not attached to a magazine had never suffice to keep the wolf from the door.” (Woodberry 2: 72)
Hard times fell on Poe like raindrops falling onto the ground. The money needed to sustain his day to day needs proved insufficient. He had written many works in ten years and. Although his works were abundant, money wasn’t. In Short, Poe had a hard time selling his works and was poorly paid. “‘A host of small troubles growing from the one trouble of poverty .’” (Woodberry 2: 103)
“‘You speak of “estimate of my life,” — and, from what I have already said, you will see that I have none to give.’” (Woodberry 2: 93) His regard for himself was small. In direct contrast was his regard for his works. “‘I have been too deeply conscious of the mutability and evanescence of temporal things to give any continuous effort to anything — to be consistent in anything. My life has been whim — impulse — passion — a longing for solitude — a scorn of all things present, in an earnest desire for the future.’” (Woodberry 2: 93) This passion, and desire for the future fueled Poe to write more.
Many of Poe’s feelings are portrayed by the guy in the poem. “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted — nevermore!” (Poe) “My soul” can be seen as his heart or his passion for writing. ” Shall be lifted—nevermore!” implies that something (established writers) is keeping Poe from becoming one with his soul (his heart or passion) and making the world realize the unity. His hard time establishing himself in the literary world and his efforts of establishment brought harsh criticism and scorn when it came to his works. He fought back with this:
“‘I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy— nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary—and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain—that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future—that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves—nor are we with our posterity.’” (Woodbery 2: 91)
His outlook of humanity showed in his works. His opinion of himself is shown by “I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity.” His opinion of making vain efforts to establish himself as a writer is quite clear. The people who chose not to print his works got this response, “Man is now only more active nor more wise .” The pursuit of recognition was beginning to be in vain for Poe. This can account for his need for solitude to rest his troubled soul and ease his mind. Solitude is what brought out more ideas, calmed him down, and brought back a glimmer of hope. “‘There are epochs when any kind of mental exercise is torture, and when nothing yields me pleasure but solitary communion with the “mountains and the woods,” I have thus rambled and dreamed away whole months, and awake, at last, to a sort of mania for composition.’” (Woodbridge 2: 90)
Poe’s life was intricately woven into the works that he wrote. Knowing how his life was during the time he wrote his pieces, changes the perspective and gives further insight to the symbolism within his work. This change of perspective creates a kind of conduit into his heart and makes the reader understand the motives behind Edgar Allan Poe’s works.
Poe, Edgar A. “The Raven.” 1845. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1986.
Woodberry, George E. The Life of Edgar Allan Poe. 1vols. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1965.
Woodberry, George E. The Life of Edgar Allan Poe. 2vols. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1965.