Edgar Allen Poe is an American writer, editor, and critic born in the year 1809. Poe is well known for his Poems and stories with dark themes and motifs. His works were misunderstood in his time, but since his death, he has garnered quite a following due to his unique choice of subject matter and genre. In his lifetime he endured many hardships. Poe lived in a time where men were expected to be tough leaders, not to be emotional, due to this he had no real way to express his troubles normally.
Poe used his writing to express his inner emotions, he hoped that someone who read his work would understand him.
Poe used symbolism frequently, this was because he wished not to overtly share how he was feeling, for fear of criticism that he was “not masculine” so he substituted the truth with analogies, causing the line between reality and fiction to blur, and making many of his stories seem supernatural unless one were to understand what he really means.
An example of this is in his work “The Raven” where the narrator encounters “a stately raven” not the least obeisance made he.” This raven is symbolism for death, at the time of writing this piece Poe’s wife Virginia was slowly dying of tuberculosis, during the encounter Poe pleads with the raven for any way to help his dying wife, but the raven says nothing but the word “nevermore.” This is reflective of the fact that death comes uninvited and unexpectedly, and that despite Poe’s best efforts, he could not alleviate Virginia of her condition, and she was condemned to death.
Poe’s use of allusion is another aspect that favors this idea. The blurring of fantasy and reality in Poes pieces can be confusing to many, however, the use of allusions to other literature prove that Poes stories take place in the real world. In his work “The Raven” Poe mentions “Pallas” Plutonian shore” nepenthe” Seraphim” Gilead” Aidenn.” These allusions anchor this story in reality, given that the literature in the story matches that of the real world, it is a sort of hint that what he is writing is real, or at least what he perceives as real. Poe was a very learned person, he wanted others who had faced similar struggles as him to read his work and understand how he felt, only others interested in a wide range of literature would be able to understand the meaning behind his words.
In his work, Poe often gives hints about his personal life. It seems he is including personal information in order to open the eyes of some astute readers, those who look into the meaning of his writings, along with the events of his life can clearly see a connection. A great example of this is in Poe’s “Annabel Lee” where he writes “The angels” Went envying her and me.” In this piece, Poe mentions the death of his wife at the hands of angels, this is a direct parallel to how his wife was essentially marked for death by a higher power when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Poe, by doing this, is leaving a connection between his actual hardships and the hardships of the characters in his writing, in doing this he has made it possible for others who have also faced similar hardships to connect to him.
Poe attempts to hide the true meaning of his writing via symbolism and allusion, but he truly longed for others to understand him. He made it difficult to decipher his meaning in most of his works but left connections for intelligent readers to make the connection. Overall Poe’s purpose in writing is to be understood.