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Influencing Poe Essay

1441 words - 6 pages

Poe went through many hardships throughout his life, including alcoholism, being taken into a new home within three years of his birth (Poe’s Life), deaths in his family, his foster father refusing to give him money for college, having to burn his furniture to keep warm (Poe’s Life), and having manic-depression. Fortunately, he was able to put his dark past to good use. All of the terrible things that happened around him influenced his morbid, haunting literature with some of the most bizarre characters in any stories ever written. Even the rough times of others around him inspired Poe to write stories about them. If the tragedies in his life never happened, he never would’ve started writing ...view middle of the document...

” Poe married his cousin Virginia, whom he was so devoted to that he wrote her a Valentine poem (Poe’s Life), when she was just fourteen and just twelve years later she also died of tuberculosis, which may have been connected to the wife’s death in “The Raven”. Many young women die in Poe’s stories, one of the most famous being “Annabel Lee”. The similarities between the two include Annabel marrying young, being struck with illness, and the man not only loving her, but worshipping her. Another story is “The Black Cat”, where the beloved wife died due to the husband himself killing her. “Uplifting an axe, forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed in my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demonical, I withdrew my arm from her grasp, and I buried the axe in her brain.” There are so many parallels between the deaths around him and his stories, that they can’t be coincidental, they must’ve influenced Poe.
Many speculate that Poe died of alcoholism. After all, he was notorious for his drinking sprees (Birch). Alcoholism was especially prominent in “The Black Cat” where the narrator was an alcoholic. The narrator in the story took out a cat’s eye while drunk and he also killed his wife while drunk. “Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character— through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance—had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others.” This shows that the narrator saw his drinking as a problem. This may be a reflection of how he felt about his own disease. When Poe’s own wife became ill due to tuberculosis, he started drinking more often. He may have thought he should’ve stopped drinking in order to care for her to the best of his ability and used it in his own work to express his ideas about alcoholism.
Poe has been influenced by the people around him when he writes. One example is “The Fall of the House of Usher” where a twin brother entombed his twin sister alive. Some speculate that these twins were James Campbell Usher and Agnes Pye Usher, who were children of Poe’s friend, who also grew up as neurotics (Sucur). Inspiration for “The Masque of the Red Death” has been speculated to come from not only tuberculosis, but the Cholera Epidemic of 1832 as well. The epidemic killed thousands across Europe and North America (McNamara). There were cases reported in Baltimore, where Poe would’ve been (McNamara). It is speculated that Poe used this particular disease as inspiration because it broke out during a masquerade in Paris. “On March 29th, the night of mi-careme, a masked ball was in progress, the chabut in full swing. Suddenly, the gayest of the...

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