"The Life of Edgar Allen Poe" Assignment: Read an extended bibliography. Then write an essay in which you explor how the author's works are a reflection of his/her life.

Essay by Kmb1166High School, 12th gradeA+, May 2004

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"We struggle in vain." Poe's simple words from The Imp of the Perverse provide a perfect characterization of his life. Depressing and difficult, Edgar Allen Poe's life is evident in nearly all of his works. He suffered the loss of many loved ones as a child. While it was not diagnosable at the time, Poe quite possibly carried a psychological disorder such as bipolar or manic depression. His mental state, when coupled with the many deaths of loved ones and lack of an appropriate parent-figure, drove him to feelings of extreme social isolation, periods of fear and paranoia, and depression. His short stories and poems, likewise, all have an unusually dark and gloomy outlook. Poe's struggles with isolation, death, alcoholism, and depression are reflected in nearly all of his short stories.

The descriptions of extreme social isolation in Poe's works are direct manifestations of his early childhood. For example, in The Raven, the narrator becomes insane after conversing with a raven about his "lost Lenore" and consequent realization that he is alone.

Likewise, Poe experienced many feelings of isolation when his mother died and he was forced to leave his sister to live with his foster parents in England. The sudden break-up of his entire family seemed to come crashing down upon his existence all at once. A strong sense of isolation can also be seen in The Cask of the Amontillado, in which a lonely Fortunato is left to die in a tomb after being tricked by his love's father. Just as Poe began to settle into his new foster parents' home, his foster mother died due to a drowning incident. Poe was apt to feel as though he were abandoned in the world with nobody that he could relate to and, likewise, many of his characters experience...