Psychology of the one and only POE

It is suggested that before you read the following post, you read “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Purloined Letter” 

Edgar Poe was born to David and Elizabeth Poe in 1809. Tragically, she dies in 1811 when Edgar was only 2. She had previously left her husband, taking her 3 children with her. When she passed the children were split up; Henry went to go live with the grandparents, while Edgar and Rosalie each went to live with well todo families. Edgar was taken in by Mr. and Mrs. John Allan, a successful merchant. He received an education and even lived in England for 5 years. After returning to the United States, he attended University of Virginia in 1826 at the age of 17. Although excelling in school, he began to drink heavily and left school a year later. With no skills and no job prospects, Poe moved to Boston and joined the army. He obtained the rank of sergeant major. When Mrs. Allan died, Mr. Allan attempted to make amend with Edgar, and signed his application for West Point. He was accepted, but eventually had to leave because Mr. Allan would not send him money. Although, it is also believed that a young Poe might have deliberately disobeyed rules so that he would be discharged. 

Poe then moved to New York, where some of his poetry was published. Mr. Allan died in 1834 with no mention of Edgar in his will. Poe eventually got a job as an editor of a newspaper, because he had won a writing competition. He moved Mrs. Clemm and Virginia to live with him, and then married Virginia, who was his cousin. He was 27 she was 13. For the next several years Poe experienced moderate writing success, but was constantly out of a job and not making much money. In 1847 Virginia passed away. For the next two years, he was deeply depressed before passing away himself on October 7, 1849. The explanation of his death was never concretely proven, but it is commonly believed he died of complications to alcoholism. 

I believe symbolism referring to Poe’s life can be found within the short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Within the story the unnamed narrator, who could be Poe observes the state of the Usher estate/home, how it contains a foreboding aura about it, some places are decaying and others are disintegrating all together. Perhaps, this could be a metaphor for Poe’s life in general. How his relationships, and career/professional standing was withering beneath him. 

In addition, I found that the “The Purloined Letter” held the same mysterious tone as the circumstances around Poe’s death. Although, he probably died due to alcoholism. The imaginative side of me wonders if something twisty and turn happened instead. I would like to believe there was a similar conspiracy concerning his death, as to what took place in the second short story. Perhaps, Poe was writing a letter to a friend of how someone was out to get him, how he might end up dead…and before he could send the letter he mysteriously died. Oh I bet this is how the script to “The Raven” was inspired…. 

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1 Response to Psychology of the one and only POE

  1. Deon Mangan says:

    I read quite a bit of Poe back in JH and HS. I don’t remember reading Fall of the House of Usher, though. Good insights.

    One thing I remember reading about Poe, is that he got involved with drugs, cocaine, I think. They said that his really bizarre fantasies of blood and death were from drug induced nightmares. This seemed similar to the writing of Stephen King and his struggle with drugs.

    Love, Mom

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