One of the greatest and most mysterious authors in history is Edgar Allan Poe. He was born in Boston in 1809. A great deal of information is known about him but yet very few are verifiable. Poe has a reputation of giving false information to the media. The place and date of which he is born is controversial. Poe has been known to say that he was born in Baltimore in 1811 and 1813. He has led a very interesting life. He is the most written about American author. His life is full of problems and tragedies, and yet, like his stories, is very complex, mysterious, and sometimes even horrifying.
Poe was orphaned at a very young age. His mother died at the young age of twenty-one and his father disappeared from his life soon after, Poe was only two. He was given to the care of John and Francis Allen in Baltimore.
Poe was a bright and very intelligent young boy who impressed his teachers and made John Allen a proud foster father. He went to school in Richmond where he received praises from his master. His parents spoiled him and this is what supposedly ruined him. His parents allowed him to carry extravagant amounts of money, which enabled him to get into all manner of mischief, according to his masters.
John Allan took his family and moved to Great Britain to set up business in 1815. The Allan family stayed in Britain for five years where Poe did not excel in school but his performance did not drop either. The stay in Britain was a complete failure, not surprisingly considering the lack of happiness in the family, in almost every way. Francis became very sick and never fully recovered. John and his family had moved back to Virginia where Poe applied for the University of Virginia. University of Virginia admitted Poe in 1826 where he studied French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin. He had an excellent scholastic record but he faced financial problems, and accumulated a gambling debt of over $2000. John Allan would not pay for Poe's gambling debts or his school either. The months at the university marked the beginning of the long feud between Poe and his foster father. The battles were between money and behavior. Poe was spending money extravagantly, and John Allan was trying to teach him a mean lesson. The lesson might have been too hard or too mean. It broke the relationship between the two. Poe could not stay at the University of Virginia, left the house March 1827, and moved to Boston.
Poe had trouble finding a living in Boston and, therefore, enlisted into the Army under the name of Edgar Allan Perry. He was immediately assigned to an artillery unit in Boston Harbor. Six months later, he was reassigned and moved to Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor where he met and made friends with Colonel William Drayton. Poe adapted surprisingly very well to military discipline, and quickly rose in the ranks with the help of Colonel Drayton. Poe attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major while in the army.
Poe did not enjoy military life, despite his promotion, and was horrified of his five years enlistment term. He, again, asked for the help of John Allan in obtaining a discharge. John Allan turned him down and told him that he was better off in the military. In 1829, his foster mother, Frances Allan, died. John started showing affection toward his foster son, perhaps as his wife's last wish on her deathbed. John Allan sent money to Poe, and he returned home a day late for his foster mother's funeral service. Furthermore, John Allan agreed to support his discharge and enlistment into the United States Military Academy at West Point. Poe received his discharged from the Army and entered West Point in 1830.
Poe was a very good cadet at West Point. He impressed other cadets with his ability to make up rhymes poetry and his mysterious ways. His days at West Point were short, however. John Allan would not send money for his intuition and board at West Point. John Allan assumed that his financial duties with Poe had ended when Poe entered West Point. He refused to pay any expenses at West Point and Poe had to resign. It was the University of Virginia all over again. He deliberately skipped class and neglected his duties. Poe left West Point before his court-martial.
All Poe had ever wanted was a father figure and a loving parent. He asked for this from John Allan but, to Poe, the love was never given. After West Point, Poe attempted to get on friendly terms with John Allan one more time when he was sick and wanted to obtain money, but, again, John Allen refused. John Allan died less than a year later.
Poe needed love and understanding at this time. Maria Clemm, an aunt, and her daughter Virginia fulfilled his wish. Poe called Maria "my Muddy" (mother) and Virginia "Sissy." Poe regarded Maria as his own mother and later married his thirteen-year-old cousin as his wife. Poe did not desire a real wife, to whom he would make love and to whom have children, but rather an ideal image of womanhood. It is not clear whether Virginia ever loved Poe. There is no doubt that she adored him but she never understood what it ever was to be a wife. She may have, and probably did, acted under the command of Virginia or Poe without complaint or comment.
Like all matters in his life, Poe's marriage with Virginia ended in tragedy. On January 30, 1847, Virginia Poe dies of tuberculosis. Everything in his life has now become a tragedy. Every woman he had ever loved has died. He found comfort in only alcohol. It was safe to say that Poe was an alcoholic. He had made promises to stay away from alcohol, but like his father, David Poe, and his oldest brother, Henry Poe, he was not able to. There is record that when Poe was drunk, he would do and say unusual, and usually things. Once he paraded around a friend's house naked in front the friend's mother. He sent his deep regrets to his friend the day after.
Poe's writings and works are as strange as he is. His work reflected almost directly at his eerie personality as in his poem Annabel Lee, dedicated to his dead wife, Virginia. Poe has regarded himself as a poet throughout his life. He has written poetry ever since he was a teenager. As a teenager, he wrote "Temerlane" and "Al Aaraaf" which were remarkable for his age. These poems contained deep thoughts and amazing imagery not possessed by teenage poets during that period of time. His poetry most often reflected loneliness and fear. In "The Raven", he wrote of a lonely man mourning the lost of his beloved "Lenore" and is haunted by creepy raven who symbolizes Lenore's ghost. The thumpish rhymes to this poem give it a somewhat nightmarish affect by showing the narrators fear and pain. The thumpish rhymes symbolizes the beating heart of narrator, giving the reader a creepy feeling, like when they can hear their own heartbeat when they feel fear.
Poe also wrote many short stories. He did not take these short stories seriously because they were stories written for money. His horror stories are the most famous and the most read. Poe's horror stories are different from other authors of his time. His horror stories do not create suspense and does not frighten the reader but give the reader a "chill to the bone." He shows the pain of both the victim and the torturer as in "The Cask of Amontillado." The murderers in his story always have strange motives and there own perverseness causes them to go mad. In the story "The Tell-Tale Heart", the servant murdered his master because his masters eye annoyed him. He murdered his master though he loved him. He then his imagination takes play and he constantly hears the heart beat of the master. Poe also wrote humor stories, stories of reality, and detective stories. Critics accused his humor stories as of lack of humor, his reality stories were claimed too realistic, and his detective stories were said to be too hard to understand.
Poe's works are still read and are still very famous today. His work has inspired many playwrights, filmmakers, and composers. His stories and poems are memorized and learned by students in every generation. "The Raven" is, by no doubt, what made Poe famous.
Poe's life alone is a mystery that is unsolved even today. Concrete facts about his life are unknown. Poe's mysterious life adds to the "chill" of his works and makes everything all the more mysterious. Some people say that Poe had psychological mental problems, but others have praised him as a genius of human fear and confusion. Poe died on October 7, 1849 as mysterious as how he lived.