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The American Romantic Movement

Edgar Allan Poe
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The Dark Romanticist
 

Poe's Connection with Romanticism

During his time and still today, Edgar Allan Poe was known for his dark and emotional writings. This alone connected Poe with romanticism’s emotional aspect. Also, Poe leans towards magical and mysterious writings at times which further his connection to romanticism for those specific reasons but also writing in that way differed some of his work as imaginary, unordinary, and unrealistic. These are also traits of romanticism. Examples of Poe’s use of mysterious writing are the tactic of using vagueness and lack of detail especially concerning time and space. By doing this, Poe keeps the readers guessing and asking questions which keeps them reading.

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Biographical Information 
On January 19th, 1809 a baby named Edgar Poe was born in Boston. He started to endure harsh troubles very soon and early in his life with the death of his father in 1810 and mother in 1811 (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart). Many troubles like these would define Poe throughout his life in his emotions, social life, habits, and work. After both his parents died, Poe was unofficially adopted by a Richmond merchant named John Allan. When this happened Poe took his guardian’s name, Allan, for himself and went by the name we all know him by today as Edgar Allan Poe. From 1815 to 1820 Poe was brought up in England were he attended the Manor School at Stoke Newington. In 1826 he attended the University of Virginia where he was soon expelled that same year for not paying his gambling debts. After hearing of this, John Allan disowned him (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart). Without knowing a whole lot about what to do with his life after this and kind of stumbling around, Poe joined the army in 1827.After three years in the army Poe was accepted into West Point in 1830 but was dishonorably discharged the next year for intentional neglect of his duties. With few places to go, In 1833 Poe ended up living with an aunt on his father’s side in Baltimore (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart). While he was there Poe discovered a talent of his that would give him a way to make a living but by being able to work for himself. This way he wouldn’t have to struggle with a boss or meet other’s expectations as much as other jobs which had already proved to be hard for him to keep in the past. He found this talent by winning $50 in a writing contest in Baltimore in which he wrote a short story called “MS Found in a Bottle”. With this success Poe started writing and working for assorted magazines like the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond (1835-1837), Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine in Philadelphia (1839-1840), and Graham’s Magazine (1842-1843) (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart). In 1836 when Poe was 27, he made a choice to marry his 13 year old cousin Virginia Clemm. This choice shows the kind of dark and peculiar person that Poe was. In 1842 Clemm burst as blood vessel in her head which left her as a vegetable for the next five years until her death of Tuberculosis. After her death Poe fell into his struggle with drugs and mainly alcohol even more along with a suicide attempt in 1848. In 1849 he wrote one of his most known poems called “Annabel Lee” about her (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart).  That same year in August, Poe joined a group called the Sons of Temperance which was somewhat like a modern day Alcoholics Anonymous group. While Poe joined this group for the obvious reason that he had an alcohol addiction, he also joined it because it was a common thing for writers at the time to write about or give propaganda in their literature for groups like this that they were members of ( Moss, Wilson). However Poe never made this happen. On October 7th, 1849 at the age of 40, Poe died from an alcohol induced coma. While it seemed like Poe was leaving alcohol behind with the steps he made in the later part of his life, he slipped up and had a drink at a party and then disappeared for 3 days until he was found in a delirious condition in a Baltimore gutter (Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart). Edgar Allan Poe never lead a normal life really, and this is obvious and portrayed through his writing. He was a very dark and depressed man which connected him to the Romanticism movement of his time and also made him an interesting and catching author.
 
Analysis of "Annabel Lee"

The poem, “Annabel Lee” that Poe wrote after his wife died which expressed his thoughts and emotions on her death, reflected many of his writing styles that also connect to romanticism. First off the poem is written with words and a voice that is medieval-like which makes it sound like somewhat of a fairy tale. For instance, the introduction setting is a kingdom by the sea. This gives the poem a mysterious and magical sense which Poe and romanticism are known for. This sense is also accompanied by the romantic idea of isolation in nature and being uninfluenced by society. This is represented by the line “And this maiden she lived with no other thought, than to love and be loved by me” (Alone, Annabel Lee). And repeated in the line “She was a child and I was a child” (Alone, Annabel Lee). This connects with romanticism’s ideas of nature because Poe shows they are uninfluenced by nature by saying that they have no other thought than to love each other. They are also uninfluenced by society when Poe refers to them as innocent and unlearned to the tricks and schemes of society by calling them children. The romantic ideas magic and faith are referred to again when the winged seraphs of heaven are mentioned, meaning the highest collection of angels in heaven. By using the winged seraphs of heaven in his poem, Poe also refers to his strongest and undying love for his wife. He does this by saying that his love was so strong that even the seraphs and heaven were jealous of him and his wife in the line “The angels not half so happy in heaven, went envying her and me” (Alone, Annabel Lee). He continues to say that because of their jealousy that they killed his wife in order to end his happiness and their jealousy.  In the 5th and 6th stanzas Poe uses romantic and poetic metaphors and superlatives that describe his love for her even after her death and how he thinks of her at almost every moment of the day. In the last couplet of the poem, Poe starts with a poetic description of his wife’s state; “In her sepulchre there by the sea”, but then he translates his poetic diction into plain terms with “In her tomb by the sea” (Alone, Annabel Lee). Repetition is used here not only to augment her state of being but also for Poe to translate the poetic diction of the first line to simpler terms in the second line. When doing this Poe clarifies it for the reader because with the diction and poetic and mysterious sense that pretty much just stems from the word sepulchre makes the idea seem more far off and just an unreal thought. This is because sepulchre is more of an unknown word which has a mysterious connotation to it. However in the second line sepulchre is broken down to tomb which has a very real and concrete connotation to all of us. This brings the idea right in front of the reader and brings all the movement and curiosity that the rest of the poem gives to an immediate halt. This not only applies to the reader, but also to Poe himself with which the poem depicts emotions that are there but because it’s in a poetic form it gives them a far off sense that detaches them from Poe. However, with this one line all of his emotions come back to him and his depression is a reality and the poem immediately stops.

 

 

List of Writings

The Tell-Tale Heart (short story)

The Cask of Amontillado (short story)

The Gold-Bug (short story)

The Domain of Arnheim (short story)

Morgue (short story)

The Oblong Box (short story)

The Masque of the Red (short story)

The Murders in the Rue (short story)

The Raven (poem)

Alone (poem)

Annabel Lee (poem)

Eldorado (poem)

Lenore (poem)

The Bells (poem)

To Helen (poem)

Ulalume (poem)

 

References
 

Alone, Annabel Lee. Poe, Edgar Allan. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/sg/poe/works/poetry/alone.html

Edgar Allan Poe/ The Tell-Tale Heart. Retrieved March 3, 2006, from http://www.online-literature.com/poe/44/

Moss, Joyce. , Wilson, George. (1997). “The Cask of Amontillado”. Literature and its Times, 2 (1800-1880s), 81-86

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Gold-Bug and Other Tales. Dover Publications Inc. 1991, New York. 1-14, 108-116

Romanticism. Wikpedia, Retreived March 3, 2006, from http://classiclit.about.com/od/poeedgarallan/a/aa_eapoeligeia.htm

(Poems referred to in paper follow)