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Edgar Allan Poe: The Gothic Master! PowerPoint Presentation
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Edgar Allan Poe: The Gothic Master!

Edgar Allan Poe: The Gothic Master!

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Edgar Allan Poe: The Gothic Master!

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  1. Edgar Allan Poe: The Gothic Master! Mr. Feraco American Literature 29 November 2007

  2. No Great Artist Goes Unpunished • Poe’s family history was troubled • David Poe drank heavily, and abandoned Elizabeth Arnold (Edgar’s mother) shortly after his son’s birth in 1809 • Elizabeth died in Richmond, VA while Edgar was only three years old • The now-orphaned Edgar was cared for by John and Frances Allan • Poe uses their last name as his middle name

  3. Father Issues • Frances was kind to Edgar, but John never accepted him as a son • John was extremely critical of Poe’s desire to become a writer • Edgar entered the University of Virginia at the age of seventeen • He studied well, but wanted more money than John was willing to give him

  4. Deep in Debt and Running Away • Edgar turned to gambling as an alternate source of income, but the habit left him with large debts • John pulled Edgar out of school once he found out (rather than help his ward pay his lenders) • Edgar responded by running away, and ended up in Boston on his own – now an “orphan” by choice

  5. Lost in Boston • Poe’s writing dreams took a hit after the publication of his first poetry collection, “Tamerlane,” in 1827 • The work sold poorly • Edgar joined the military after failing to find other work • He did well enough for himself in the military (promoted to sergeant major) • However, Poe didn’t enjoy his new lifestyle, and decided to ask John Allan for help

  6. A Dying Wish • Frances begged John to help Edgar on her deathbed, and her husband relented • With John’s assistance, Edgar entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in late 1829 • It would be the last time Allan ever helped his foster son • Edgar probably went to the Academy in order to please John • However, John remarried in 1830 with a woman young enough to bear children (thus ensuring Poe would not be his heir), and Edgar left the Academy

  7. Glimmers of Success within the Darkness • Poe was able to publish “El Aaraaf,” his second collection of poems, while waiting to enter West Point • This collection was more successful than “Tamerlane,” and earned Poe his first real praise as a poet • The book’s success helped provide a foundation for Poe to continue his work

  8. A Very Strange Marriage • Poe moved to Baltimore, where his aunt, Maria Poe Clemm, took him in • He married Maria’s daughter, Virginia, in 1835 – despite the fact that Virginia was thirteen years old! • Not only was Virginia much younger than Poe – exactly half his age – but her health was poor, and she required a great deal of care

  9. Writing to Survive • Poe worked as an editor at various magazines in order to support Virginia and Maria • He continued writing whenever he could, finishing a novel and a number of short stories and poems – including “The Fall of the House of Usher”

  10. Darkness on a Page • Poe’s prose is often tense, simultaneously breathless, strangled, and claustrophobic - despite the presence of ornate descriptions and elaborate sentence constructions • Most of his narrators are terrified or distraught • Many of his characters suffer from illnesses of the body and mind, or carry terrible, haunting secrets – and characters often go insane or die! • Poe’s eerie settings, tragic stories, and obsession with loss, death, guilt, and grief often shocked and frightened his readers

  11. Peering into the mind’s dark corners • However, Poe’s psychological thrillers weren’t meant to be exploitative • Instead, the author wanted to move beyond the sunny world of the optimists and the ordered world of the rationalists in order to explore a greater truth • He aimed to do this by pulling back the “curtain” that separates the ordinary from the supernatural, revealing the “truth” in the darkness that lies within the human mind

  12. Drowning in a bottle • Poe’s writing flourished even as the writer suffered • The author produced a large number of original pieces despite a crippling drinking problem • Although a few sips of alcohol left him staggering, Poe drank constantly in order to escape a disturbing, tormented world

  13. Never Enough • Despite the fact that he wrote fairly often, Poe’s work never left him with enough money to support Virginia or Maria comfortably • Even “The Raven,” arguably the author’s most famous work, didn’t provide him with the money he needed

  14. The beginning of the End • Poe’s life fell apart when Virginia, his now-25-year-old wife, died of tuberculosis in 1847 • He grew more and more unstable, eventually developing a brain lesion that signaled his impending death • Desperate, Poe continued to seek romance, looking for someone to finally “adopt” him • It’s sad to realize that Poe spent his entire life searching so hard for stability – financial, familial, emotional – only to never find it

  15. The ugly End • Poe disappeared in Virginia in 1849 while on his way to meet with a woman he hoped to marry • He was found in a tavern a week later, soaking wet and delirious • Poe died four days later, regaining consciousness just long enough to pray, “Lord help my poor soul.”

  16. The Legacy of a tortured soul • Poe’s influence on other writers has been tremendous, and continues to this day • See Stephen King for a contemporary example • Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to create Sherlock Holmes after reading Poe’s works • Fyodor Dostoevsky, a famous Russian writer, was driven to examine the criminal mind – producing such landmarks as “Crime and Punishment” • Poe is the forefather of the detective story, with short stories such as “The Purloined Letter” providing others with a narrative framework for their own stories

  17. In conclusion • Poe, our most famous explorer of death, produced a body of work that will extend his legacy for centuries after his unfortunate death • He has experienced far more success in death than in life…and, in a strange way, that almost seems appropriate.