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How Edger Allen Poe's Fears and Obsessions Shaped His Writing

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Edger Allen Poe was a very fearful man. He had many fears and obsessions. Although, I think that the three that influenced and shaped his writing the most were the fear and obsession of the death of beautiful women, his obsession with alcohol, and the fear of insanity. These three fears and obsessions seemed to influence and shape many of his writings. Many of his poems were about dead or dying beautiful women. Also, a lot of his stories narrators were either alcoholics or eventually became completely insane.

The First obsession or fear I will discuss is Poe's fear and obsession with the death of beautiful women. Most of the woman he loved died. His mother, wife, foster mother, aunt and a woman he once fell in love with all died. One of his literary works that was influenced and shaped by this fear and obsession was the ever famous The Raven. One quote from The Raven that shows this fear is “Sorrow for the lost Lenore- the rare and radiant maiden…” The narrator seems to still think of Lenore as beautiful even though she is dead. Another quote is “And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before…” In Poe's day purple was the common color for women to be wearing when they were buried. The narrator might be using the curtains as a metaphor for the dress Lenore wore at her funeral. The final quote is “Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore…” In this quote the narrator once again I saying the dead Lenore is still rare and radiant. As you can see, The Raven was very shaped and influenced by Poe’s fear and obsession of the death of beautiful women.

The next fear or obsession I will discuss is Poe’s fear of insanity. Poe was very fearful of losing his sanity. The funny thing is that a lot of his narrators of his stories were insane or became insane. He too was a little off his rocker also if you know what I mean. There are quotes in the story The Tell Tale Heart that prove this point. One of them is “I heard all things in heaven and in earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad?” The narrator is clearly as mad as a hatter. Although, the narrator does not want to admit that he is insane. He says he can hear things in heaven, earth and hell. This clearly shows that he is very insane. “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He never gave me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vultures…I made up my mind to take the man’s life ridding myself of the eye forever!” is another quote. This quote shows that the narrator is crazy enough to take an innocent man’s life just so the narrator can rid himself of the fear of an eye. The final, quote is “Villains! I shrieked “disassemble no more! I admit to the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his terrible heart!” After, carefully planning, investigating, killing and lastly hiding the old man the narrator/ killer freaks out. He freaks out because he thinks the police can hear the old man’s heart. Then, he shows them where the body is. As you can see, this story was shaped and influenced by Poe’s fear of insanity.

The final fear or obsession I will discuss is Poe’s obsession with alcohol. Poe’s obsession with alcohol nearly lead to his death, but it also led to shaping and influencing a great tale many know as The Black Cat. In this story there are quotes that support my thinking. One of them is “during which my general temperament and character-through the instrumentality of the fiend intemperance…” In this quote the fiend intemperance may be referring to amounts of alcohol. Another quote is “One night, returning home much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town…” When the narrator says intoxicating he may be referring to being drunk. The final quote is “But my disease grew upon me for what disease is alcohol!” Here the narrator is referring to alcohol as a disease. These quotes show that the story The Black Cat was shaped and influenced by Poe’s obsession of alcohol.

Fear and obsession or the death of beautiful women, obsession of alcohol and fear of insanity helped shape and influence the literary arts of Edger Allen Poe. Edger Allen Poe was a very fearful man. He had many fears and obsessions. The three that I discussed seemed to influence and shape a lot of his writing. Many of his poems were about dead or dying beautiful women. Finally, a lot of his stories narrators were either alcoholics or eventually became completely insane.



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