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Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry, Death, and the Monster Within

Edgar Allan Poe is known as a pioneer in psychological horror. His poetry and writings explore

the darkness of the human psyche and the monster within. Although he wrote in many other genres during his lifetime, his horror-based writings are his most famous. His horror short stories and poetry are beautifully dark and thought-provoking. As you read his writing, you can’t help but look inside yourself and wonder if that monster is in you, too.

His death was mysterious and unexplainable, yet apropos to his legacy. Today, there are over 26 published theories regarding Edgar Allan Poe’s disappearance and then sudden passing. It’s known that from September 27 th to October 2 nd of 1849, he was nowhere to be found, and that his health was vulnerable after suffering from cholera. When Edgar appeared again on October 3rd , he was delirious and appeared to be drunk in a tavern. He was then taken to Washington University Hospital. He was at times perfectly clear and at others uncontrollably screaming about seemingly nothing over the course of four days.

He died on October 7 th , 1849. His death was ruled as “phrenitis,” or inflammation of the brain, which was an explanation that was often used when the cause of death was unable to be determined. Prior to his death, Edgar Allan Poe had a very difficult life. His childhood was tumultuous with a father who abandoned him, his mother, and his siblings as a baby and a mother who passed when Edgar was just two years old on December 8 th , 1811. Even when he was taken in by a couple in Richmond, Edgar was never adopted and experienced constant tension with his foster

father, John Allan.

Edgar had issues with depression and alcoholism throughout his life, and he even gambled into a $2,000 debt after an attempt to pay for his college tuition at the University of Virginia. When Edgar’s young wife, Virginia Clemm Poe died at the age of just 24 in 1847, he was devastated and never quite recovered. With all his short stories and poetry about the “monster within,” you can’t help but wonder if he wrote based on his own experience and turmoil. It’s clear if you look at his biography that he was a man in unimaginable emotional pain. According to the National Library of Medicine, Edgar Allan Poe possibly even had bipolar disorder. But as a poet, writer, and author he was able to turn his pain and mental health issues into spectacular works of writing that still live on today.

In celebration of this All Hallows Eve, I highly recommend you go and read this prolific writer’s famous horror short stories and poetry, such as “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” As you read his writings, think about the man behind the words and your very own monster within!


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