Many authors have made great contributions to the world ofliterature.
Mark Twain introduced Americans to life on theMississippi. Thomas Hardy wrote on his pessimistic views of theVictorian Age. Another author that influenced literature is EdgarAllan Poe. Poe is known as the father of the American short story andfather of the detective story. To understand the literarycontributions of Edgar Allan Poe, one must look at his early life,his literary life, and a summary of two of his famous works. “Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston” (Inglis 505) “on January19, 1809” (Asselineau 409).Order now
He was born to a southern family thatwere in a traveling company of actors (Inglis 505). His father, DavidPoe, was from a Baltimore family. He was an actor by profession and aheavy drinker. Soon after Edgar Allan Poe was born, he left hisfamily. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was a widow at the age ofeighteen.
Two years after his birth, she died of tuberculosis(Asselineau 409). When his mother died, Poe was adopted by John Allan(Perry XI) at the urging of Mr. Allan’s wife. In 1815, John Allanmoved his family to England.
While there, Poe was sent to privateschools (Asselineau 410). In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia. There he studied Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin. He had anexcellent scholastic record. He got into difficulties almost at once.
Mr. Allan did not provide him with the money to pay for his fees andother necessities. Poe was confused and homesick. He learned to playcards and started drinking. Soon he was in debt in excess of twothousand dollars.
Poe discovered that he could not depend upon Allanfor financial support. His foster father refused to pay his debts,and Poe had to withdraw from the University (Asselineau 410). In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier. He did this under the name of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed onSullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor for over a year.
Poe adaptedvery well to military discipline and quickly rose to the rank ofregimental sergeant major. After a while, he got tired of the samedaily routine involved in military life. Poe wrote regularly to Mr. Allan. He met with Mr. Allan after the death of Mrs.
Allan inFebruary of 1829. With Allan’s support, he received his discharge andenlisted in West Point on July 1, l830 (Asselineau 410). While atWest Point, Mr. Allan, who had remarried, continued in not providingPoe with enough money.
Poe decided to have himself kicked out ofschool. Cutting classes and disregarding orders were his solutions. He was court-martialed for neglect of duties in January, 1831, andleft West Point the following month (Asselineau 411). “Poe was great in three different fields , and in each one hemade a reputation that would give any man a high place in literaryhistory.
Poe wrote great short stories, famous not only in hisown country, but all over the world (Robinson V). ” “Hawthorne,Irving, Balzac, Bierce, Crane, Hemingway and other writers have givenus memorable short stories; but none has produced so great a numberof famous and unforgettable examples, so many tales that continue,despite changing standards to be read and reprinted again and againthroughout the world (Targ VII). ” “Poe was the father of the modernshort story, and the modern detective story (Targ VII). ” “Withthe possible exception of Guy de Maupassant, no other writer is souniversally known and esteemed for so large of a corpus of excellenttales as in Edgar Allan Poe (Targ VII).
“In 1831, Poe succeeded in publishing a new edition of hispoems entitled, Poems. Poe was now in great difficulty. He went toNew York, but could find no job there. Eventually he took refuge withhis aunt, Mrs.
Clemm, in Baltimore. There he decided to seekemployment and make his living by writing. Failing to get attentionwith his poems, he decided to start writing short stories. Poecompeted in a contest for the best short story in 1831. The prize wasoffered by Phil-Saturday Courier. Because he did not win the prize,Poe started on an ambitious project.
He decided to plan a series oftales told by members of a literary group. He found no publisher forhis stories, and entered the contest again in June of 1835. This timehe sent one poem and six stories (Asselineau 411). His story, “Ms.
Found in a Bottle,” won , and he received one hundred dollars for it(Targ IX). Through the influence of one of the judges, John P. Kennedy, Poe became employed as an editor of the Southern LiteraryMessenger, published in Richmond (Asselineau 411). Under Poe’seditorship, the Messenger ‘s circulation rose from 500 to 3500. While in Richmond, Poe married his cousin, Virginia, who was not quitefourteen years old. Poe was fired from the Messenger in January of1837.
Poe then went to New York, where he was unsuccessful. In thesummer of 1838, he moved to Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, heworked as the editor of both Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine andGraham’s Magazine (Asselineau 412). Even though he won a onehundred dollar prize for “The Gold Bug” (Robinson VI), he moved toNew York.
Poe found a job in New York as an assistant editor for theEvening Mirror. This was where “The Raven” first appeared on January29, 1845. “The poem immediately caught the imagination of the publicand was reprinted all over the country and even abroad in all kindsof newspapers and magazines, but Poe pocketed only a few dollars forhis poems (Asselineau 413). ” The year of 1845 was a lucky year forPoe.
He published a collection of his Tales and an edition of hispoems named The Raven and Other Poems . He also became the editor ofthe weekly Broadway Journal. Poe broke down when Virginia died inJanuary of 1848 ( Asselineau 413). In 1849, Poe died in Baltimore(Targ IX).
“Instead of really living, he took refuge from thephysical world in the private world of his dreams-in other words-inthe world of his tales (Asselineau 413). “In the “Masque of the Red Death”, Poe uses his imaginationthroughout the story (Rogers 43). A plague has devastated the entirecountry. It takes only half an hour tofor the course of the diseaseto run. At first one feels sharp pains and dizziness. Then onestarts bleeding at the pores.
The disease results in death. PrinceProspero has ordered one thousand lords and ladies to the deepseclusion of one of his abbeys. The building was built by the Princeand is filled with his exotic ornaments. It is sealed from theoutside world by a huge wall with iron gates.
Inside the building aredancers, musicians, and everything they need in order to staysecluded until the plague runs its course. After six months ofseclusion, the Prince decides to hold a masked ball. The ball is heldin a suite with seven rooms. Each room is decorated in a singlecolor. The last room is decorated in red. Within this room stands ahuge clock that strikes the hour with a heavy clang.
The rooms arevery crowded for the ball. At the stroke of midnight, a guest is seenin a costume of the red death itself and This frightens the otherguests. The Prince is angered at what he believes to be a practicaljoke. He orders the stranger seized and hanged from the battlements. Prince Prospero follows the stranger into the red chamber. It isthere that Prince Prospero falls dead at the feet of the stranger.
The others capture the unknown person in the costume. To their horrorthey find there is no living form in the costume. One by one they dieuntil no one else remains. Death is king of all (Rogers 41). “The horror abysmal darkness, and absolute helplessnessbefalling the victims are described with vivid accuracy in tales suchas ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ ‘The Cask of Amontillado,’ and’The Premature Burial’ (Perry XI-XII).
” In “The Fall of the House ofUsher,” the narrator visits his insane friend, Roderick Usher. Usher’s house is huge and gloomy (Rogers 20). His twin sister,Madeline, gets sick and dies. The narrator and Usher place her in atomb in the basement of Usher’s house. What they do not realize isthat she is still barely alive.
Usher keeps on hearing sounds overthe next couple of days. The seventh day after Madeline’s death, abad storm appears. The narrator and Usher open the door of thenarrator’s room and Madeline falls on Usher . They both die.
Thenarrator then leaves the house. As he rides away, the house collapsesto the floor (Rogers 21).