Edgar Allan Poe Essay

Edgar Allan Poe Essay

The concept of death lurks in everyone’s life and mind whether we want it to or not. Edgar Allan Poe, author of many poems and short stories, had a life that was full of death like no other. Throughout his poems “Annabel Lee”, “Ulalume” and his short story “The Oval Portrait”, he distinguishes the reality that his life was full of death and loneliness due to the loss of the women around him. Caused by tuberculosis, he lost the women in his life that meant the most to him. Because of this, he had a vast respect for the women figure. In his poems and short stories, it is believed to be that he is taking his revenge out on the men in his life that did not exist. The women in his life, however, seem to play a significant role as if they were a goddess to him. He uses the people that he lost or that might not have been there at all as characters in disguise within each piece of literature that he wrote.

Setting was always a main element in Poe’s writing that he seemed to establish well. In the poem “Annabel Lee”, he describes the setting as being, “…a kingdom by the sea…” Later on into the poem, he starts to describe what is around the sea, such as “…the moon beams…the stars never rise…all the night-tide…” This is significant to the poem because it allows the reader to get in tune of how much he thinks about and misses his lost love Virginia. “The Oval Portrait” seems to have a different setting as this poem, yet displays the same message. This short story is based in an apartment illustrated as “…one of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished apartments…in a remote turret of the building…decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique…wall were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial trophies…” This setting will become noteworthy to the ending because it explains why what happened did in fact happen. The poem “Ulalume” has a setting that is completely different from these two pieces of writing. This is so because in the beginning, it portrays the environment as being “…skies were ashen and sober…the leaves they were crisped and sere…it was night in the lonesome October…misty mid region of Weir…the dank tarn of Auber…ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir…” This particular setting is key because it goes in-depth of Poe’s life. Not only is the “Ulalume” setting important, but the setting in the other two pieces of writing is essential because it connects certain figures to different literary elements.

Symbolism is another element that is portrayed well throughout these three selected Poe literatures. In “Annabel Lee”, one of the most important symbols is the wind. This is so because it is portrayed in a few different ways. One, it is described as being the fevers, chills and the cold of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was a central problem in Poe’s life not only when he was a child, but while an adult as well. And second, it is described as being the power of death. “[T]hat the wind came out of the cloud…chilling and killing my Annabel Lee…” is a quote that shows how important the symbol wind is to Poe. The second most valuable symbol is the sea. The sea is an important symbol because it allows the reader to interpret what they believe it means. In “The Oval Portrait”, the most significant symbol would be the painting. The painting symbolizes death. This is so because as he was looking at the painting and being fascinated with it, he forgot what was most important in life. So much time went by as he was attracted to the painting, his wife died. The last line of this short story is symbolic in itself because it doesn’t literally define how much time went by, but it says enough to let the reader know that it was a while before he put his mind on what matters. Symbolism is a major element that can be incorporated into a piece of literature. However, what really keeps a piece moving is the use of imagery throughout the work.

Imagery is an insightful way to get information out about a particular object without being plain or boring. This literary element is used throughout each of the three pieces of writing very well. With the use of imagery in the poem “Ulalume”, the reader learns more about the lost character of Ulalume than without it. “..Wings until they trailed in the dust…” describes Ulalume as being an angel. Finding out that Ulalume is an angel is important because when people become angels, in a personal way, it says that they mean something to you. Poe uses imagery greatly when he says in stanza eight of the poem “Annabel Lee”, “…on the door of this legend tomb…Ulalume…the vault of thy lost Ulalume!” This is significant to the outcome of the poem because it tells us that throughout the poem, Poe was traveling to his lost love’s tomb. In the poem “Annabel Lee”, Poe uses substantial imagery to explain his relationship of his past wife and Annabel Lee. Annabel Lee was considered as Poe’s childhood sweetheart Elmira, but most people think of Annabel Lee as Poe’s wife and cousin Virginia <-her last name. Knowing that Poe lost many critical characters in his life is important when you thoroughly scrutinize the short story “The Oval Portrait”. It is important because if you do not know that piece of knowledge, you will not completely understand the ending of the story. “It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood.” This is an important line because it covers two aspects of Poe’s life. For one, it symbolizes that when he married Virginia that she was still just a young girl going into womanhood. And second, it uses imagery to portray the message that all of the women in Poe’s life that were important to him died earlier than they were meant to.

Throughout Poe’s literature, he exposes the true feelings of what he thinks about losing the loved ones that he lost when they were too young to die. Whether it is through the setting, symbolism or imagery, he ends up revealing a message that is important to everyone. The message is to take every chance and opportunity to its farthest length. In the poem “Annabel Lee”, this message is used before the poem was even intended on being written. He did not let the fact of him and Virginia being cousins effect the reality that he loved her and he was going to marry her. In the short story “The Oval Portrait”, this message is reversed. This is so because the character let himself be too involved with the painting while what really mattered was withering away.