The heart of Darkness by Edgar Poe

Authors from the early time have big influences on modern day writers. Edgar Allan Poe set the bar on how fantasy, science fiction, horror stories, and detective fiction should be told. “His works have influenced writers as diverse as Stéphane Mallarmé, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, and Joyce Carol Oates. His tales, in particular, have had an impact on three major mystery forms”. Before Edgar Allan Poe became so influential on writers, he overcame a lot of struggles that affected his later life.

His early life shaped him into the writer he became.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, in 1806. At the time, he was born to travel stage actors who were David Poe, Jr, and Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe. Poe was not the only child; he had more siblings. Having a large family at the time, they were poor and not making enough money. In those times people didn’t care about stage actors. Things got hard after Poe father left the family.

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When his father decided to abandon his family, Poe was about nine months. His dad was a strong alcoholic at the time, coming home drinking heavily. Poe mom became a struggling single parent mom, trying to afford for all of her children. Later on, Poe mom comes down with a sickness she cannot beat. Later on, she will pass away from the sickness she got. After the pass of his mother, his family was separated to live with different families. Everyone got accepted by other families; no siblings were together.

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Poe got picked up by the names of John and Frances Allan. Those two were now his foster parents moving him to London. This was when educated started to take a role early in his life.

After moving to London with his foster parents, Poe attended his first school; which was the school of the Dubourg sisters in Chelsea. He had enrolled in April of 1816. He would attend that school for two years and then leave. It was the start of him continuously changing schools. Poe attended multiple schools not seeming to settle in his scenery. After leaving Dubourg, he would attend two more boarding schools. In both boarding schools, “he excelled in language studies at both institutions.” While changing from school to school, his foster mother “Frances Allan” was sick with a dangerous illness. Later on, she would pass away with the illness she had. This would be the first of multiple deaths he witnesses in his education years. The second death he would witness in his education years is a mother of one of his classmates. Her name was Jane Stanard, and she would die in 1824. Her death affected Poe because of his interest in her.

“He then became very argumentative with John and the family, while they were in debt from the family failing business.” Leading up to the third and final death he would witness in his education years. Poe uncle was the final death, that would happen in 1825. But Poe uncle would leave something for Poe beneficial. That Something would be a large portion of his uncle money. That would end Poe financial problems for now. He would take that money and extend his education by going to college. But before he went to college, he succeeds Italian, Latin, Greek, Spanish, and French. Also performing well in writing verse, and declamation. He then attends college to University Virginia.

Poe went to the of University Virginia in February of 1826. Even though he got a good portion of his uncle fortune, it was still not enough money to afford college. With money being the problem, he couldn’t get books or clothes to put on. With gambling being big at the time, “he considered playing cards for money.” The debt with the school would become bad with Poe. His debt became up to over two thousand in debt just in one year. For a visual look, “the annual living expenses for a student in the 1800s was $350”. Poe didn’t want to pay his debt at all. “So, at the end of the semester he withdrawal and left college.” This would set up his first job in his life.

After leaving college because of debts, Poe then joined the army. Poe was to be enlisted for a solid five years stint. After joining the army, he was sent to Boston Harbor. Where he then started to train with Battery H, which was the First Artillery at Fort Independence. Further on, Battery H was transferred to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. The date Battery H was transferred was on 8 November 1827. But this is when the altercation began to happen between Poe and the army. Poe came into the army with a different name, instead of his government name. The army soon found out his real name and who he was. He then faced trouble, “The regimental colonel tried to effect a reconciliation with Allan.” With the problem being put behind, for now, Poe started to look for something else. He wanted to become an officer. But he would have to enter West Point as a cadet. The reconciliation was mediatory. Later, Poe was discharged because of the wrong identity incident. But that wasn’t the end for Poe. “On the 15 December 1828, the regiment had transferred to Fortress Monroe, Virginia”. In the adjutant’s office is where He worked. He was doing well and started to get acknowledged. Poe got promoted to the highest non-commissioned rank in the army, which was a Sergeant major. But even after getting ranked up, Poe was not getting paid. He would then leave his first and only job. Although all might have seemed bad, all the current events shaped his works and writing style.

Poe published his first poem while in the army, in 1827 called Tamerlane, releasing other poems later. After leaving the army Poe moved to New York in 1831, where publish Elam Bliss give out Poems by Edgar A. Poe. This was also dedicated to the ‘U.S. Corps of Cadets.’ Poe continued to work but, in the summer of 1831, he saw a great opportunity. It was a new line of literary activity. He replied to the advertisement in the “Philadelphia Saturday Courier.” The prize was one hundred dollars for the best original tale. Poe handed them a grip of short fictional narratives. Although Poe didn’t win, the Saturday Courier featured his supernatural tale ‘Metzengerstein.’ At the end of the year, he had released four more tales. Two years later Poe would enter another competition. This competition would be called Saturday Visitor. Poe would add a poem, also included six stories from a collection called ‘Tales of the Folio Club.” Poe story “Coliseum” placed second in poetry after this Poe started to work on horror and terror. Later in his career, he started on “Ligeia,” this was the beginning of terror stories. He continuously worked on terror, so by the end of 1839 he published six new tales. His style and influences started to kick off. Down in his career horror stories ‘The Outsider’ (1921), ‘The Rats in the Walls’ (1923), and ‘Cool Air’ (1926) written by Poe stood out including “Raven.” For all of his work, he was granted an award named after him. “The Edgar Allan Poe awards presented annually by the Mystery Writers of America testify to his lasting influence on the form.” Without Poe early life his style wouldn’t be the same.

Poe early life struggles shaped his life that transformed to his writing style. “His mysterious style of writing was with emotion and drama. Based off the deaths in his life and his love life, Poe’s most impressionable works of fiction are gothic” The dark side of Poe style was clearly understandable from deaths and life choices. But also, his technique was fantastic and didn’t go unnoticed. His short stories really made him popular including with his use of imagery, and tone. All the little things played a big part of him influencing other writers works. Ending it off with an important quote that “his works have influenced writers as diverse as Stéphane Mallarmé, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, and Joyce Carol Oates. His tales, in particular, have had an impact on three major mystery forms: fantasy and science fiction, horror stories, and detective fiction.”

Works Cited

  • Carlson, Eric W. ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ American Short-Story Writers Before 1880, edited by Bobby Ellen Kimbel and William E. Grant, Gale, 1988. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 74.
  • Dameron, J. Lasley, and Robert D. Jacobs. ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ American Literary Critics and Scholars, 1800-1850, edited by John Wilbert Rathbun and Monica M. Grecu, Gale, 1987. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 59.
  • Edited by Zott, M. Lynn, ‘The Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.’ Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 117, Gale, 2003.
  • Fisher, Benjamin Franklin. Poe in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates. University of Iowa Press, 2010.
  • Giammarco, Erica. “Edgar Allan Poe: A Psychological Profile.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 54, no. 1, 2013, pp. 3–6.
  • Kennedy, J. Gerald. ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, edited by Robin W. Winks and Maureen Corrigan, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998.
  • Zimmerman, Brett. Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.
  • KOPLEY, RICHARD. “Book Review: Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy.” Studies in the Novel, vol. 25, no. 4, 1993, pp. 491–493.
  • Lent, John A. ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ American Magazine Journalists, 1741-1850, edited by Sam G. Riley, Gale, 1988. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 73.
  • Thompson, G. R. ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ Antebellum Writers in New York and the South, edited by Joel Myerson, Gale, 1979. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 3.

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The heart of Darkness by Edgar Poe. (2021, Sep 02). Retrieved from

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