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Edgar Allan Poe

January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849. Edgar Allan Poe. Poetic Principle. Reasons to study poetry: 1. To learn creativity 2. To make yourself more well-rounded 3. To better understand yourself through understanding others. 4. Aesthetics (beauty) 5. History. Life.

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Edgar Allan Poe

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  1. January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe

  2. Poetic Principle • Reasons to study poetry: • 1. To learn creativity • 2. To make yourself more well-rounded • 3. To better understand yourself through understanding others. • 4. Aesthetics (beauty) • 5. History

  3. Life • Born Edgar Poe in Boston, Mass. • Orphaned young; mother died shortly after father abandoned family • Taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, VA, but never formally adopted • Attended University of VA for one semester • Enlisted in the army, failed as a cadet at West Point, parted ways with the Allans

  4. 1827 – a collection of poems published, Tamerlane and Other Poems • Switched focus to prose, literary criticism • 1835 – married VirginaClemm, his 13-year-old cousin • January 1845 – published “The Raven” • 1847 – Virginia died from Tuberculosis • Was planning to produce own journal, The Penn, but died before production • Cause of death is unknown; speculations: alcoholism, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and heart disease

  5. Poe says poetry is the “rhythmical creation of beauty.” Beauty is the province of the poem. It is an immortal instinct that we have to reach for beauty. • Poe always lived in search of something within reach.

  6. Four techniques to obtain music and beauty: • 1. Onomatopoeia • 2. Alliteration • 3. Strong rhythms and uncoventional metrical patterns • 4. Repetition – dramatic effect, emphasis; helps create atmosphere

  7. Themes • 1. an air of resignation to despair • 2. romantic love – women are idealized • Famous works • “The Raven” • “Annabel Lee” • “Lenore” • “To Helen” • “A Dream Within a Dream”

  8. The Creator of the Modern Short Story • Main body of work: 1832-1849 • Disdained longer forms • 1. physical and emotional health not good • 2. financial condition – had to make money and short stories the best way

  9. Short story rules • 1. must be short enough to read in one sitting • 2. must create one single effect • 3. must not contain one word not adding to effect

  10. Three types • 1. humorous • Satire • Exaggeration • Bordering on ridiculous • Purple Prose: take a simple situation and pile on one absurdity after another

  11. 2. Detective • Poe is the “father of the detective story” • Elements • Based on analysis and deduction • Solution found in a step-by-step analysis of the crime • Reader’s interest centered on how crime is committed • Monsieur AugusteDupin is Poe’s little French detective in those short stories. He is the literary father of Sherlock Holmes

  12. 3. Horror • Mainly achieved through mood and atmosphere. Primary to plot • Accumulations of horrors piled one after another, rushing to a climax • Reader held in suspense until the last possible second • Poe was obsessed with being entombed alive and also with being forgotten

  13. Famous works • The Fall of the House of Usher • The Tell-Tale Heart • The Purloined Letter • The Cask of Amontillado • The Pit and the Pendulum

  14. The Fall of the House of Usher • Poe was editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in Philadelphia when “Usher” was published on September 18, 1839. • Five months earlier: “The Haunted Palace” published in the Baltimore Museum. • “By ‘The Haunted Palace’ I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms – a disordered brain. A gifted mind becomes haunted by evil things and memories.” • Poe feared going insane and had many bad things to haunt his life

  15. Main characters: Madeline and Roderick Usher, the Narrator, the House • Conflict: • Man v. Man • Man v. himself (fear) • Man v. the elements • Point of View: 1st person (narrator)

  16. Setting: House of Usher • actual location never given • Gloomy setting increases Usher’s depression, but also is an extension of his emotional state • Theme: Vulnerability of the Human Mind • Climax: revelation: put her in the tomb alive • Falling action: Narrator flees • Resolution: House and family dies

  17. Romantic Elements • Fascinations with antique • Mysterious • Exotic • Supernatural • Focus on Self

  18. Gothic Elements • House – bleak and remote • Thunderstorm • Tarn (lake) and misty vapors • Strangeness of people in the house… physical and psychological torment • Supernatural element often present • ZIGZAG – story of division and fragmentation: house and inhabitants

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