The Baltimore In this issue… •
The Tragic Life of Poe
In depth analysis of “The Black Cat”
A closer look at “The Masque of the Red Death”
Unlocking the mystery of “The Oval Portrait”
Understanding “A Dream Within a Dream”
“Alone” Poe’s most personal poem decoded.
Alyssa Keaton Published by IHS English 10 Torres Publishing Company
Spring 2014 - Edition I Volume I
The Life of EAP
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of
Edgar Allan Poe’s Early Life
but Edgar eventually dropped out to pursue a career in writing.
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19th, 1809 in Boston. He was born to Elizabeth Hopkins Poe and David Poe Jr. He had two other siblings: an older brother William, and a younger sister Rosalie. Edgar had a difficult childhood. His father, a once prominent actor, abandoned the family when Edgar was very young. His mother, also a talented actress, supported Edgar and his siblings until she became ill and died of Tuberculosis.
Later in Life
Edgar the Adopted Child
When he was twenty six, Edgar married his then thirteen year old cousin Virginia Clemm. Many of Edgar Allan Poe’s inspirations came from childhood and adulthood traumas. When he was still living with the Allan’s Edgar constantly argued with them over his future. And once he had been married to Virginia for a period of time, she developed Tuberculosis and eventually died sometime in her twenties. His young wife’s death became a major influence in Edgar’s stories and poems.
Edgar was taken in the Allan Family who were acquainted with Edgar’s family and their long history through Edgar’s father. Growing up, Edgar had an interest in reading, writing, and poetry. He even studied different languages and took an interest in cryptography. Once Edgar got older, John Allan, his foster father, sent him to West Point Military Academy,
Death During 1849, Edgar was found on the streets of Baltimore raving and delirious. After being taken in for treatment, Edgar Allan Poe eventually died of a still unknown cause. Yet there are many theories far and wide that try to explain the true cause of Poe’s death.
“The Black Cat” Summary In “The Black Cat”, a man and his wife live a comfortable life with their friendly house cat Pluto. The man loves his little cat dearly and the cat returns the man’s affections. One day the man suddenly becomes hostile to his pet and attempt to stab Pluto’s eye out. Days later, the man, still loathing the cat, decides to hang Pluto and be done with him. After a few days the man starts to miss his cat until one day he finds a stray cat at a local bar. Strangely, this new cat looks just like Pluto. The man decides to take him home and lives happily with the new cat for a while. But then the man’s feelings of hatred and disgust resurface, and the man decides to go after the cat. The man’s wife, seeing his rage, tries to stop him, but ends up dead by his own hand. The man attempts to hide his wife’s body in the walls of their basement and leaves her sealed up for days. Then one day the police come searching for the man’s wife and go down into the basement to look around. Seeing that there is no sign of the wife, they make their way up the base-
ment stairs preparing to leave. But just as they are about to go, a loud screech is heard from inside the basement wall. The wall is torn down, and inside they find the corpse of the man’s wife. On top of her head is the black cat the man tried to kill; alive and calling out for justice.
Personal Evaluation Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” is one of my favorite Poe stories by far. From the first time I read it, I was instantly intrigued by its eerie quality. The story of a tortured man and his relationship with a simple and loving house cat seems like an unusual pairing. Poe crafts these characters in a way that makes the reader feel sympathy and hatred for both. Poe always gives insight into his own character and personality in his stories, and in “The Black Cat” the main character reminds me a bit of Poe himself. To me, the cat could represent his past terrors that he longs to forget over and over again. I always admire Poe’s ability to put a twist on his stories
that always surprises the readers. Often the main character is often faced with terror that has come about from his or her own selfishness or paranoia. The particular terror in this story, the cat, reflects the main character’s own conscience at the end of the story. Poe continues to thrill and excite his readers, and this story in particular will always stand out in my mind. It is a classic example of Poe’s writing style. I will always enjoy reading Poe’s stories and poems and “The Black Cat” will always be an absolute favorite of mine.
“The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, ginnurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame.”
“The Masque of the Red Death” “And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”
Summary In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death”, Prince Prospero hosts a lively house party in his grand castle. Each room in his castle is colored differently: red, blue, violet, purple, white, and lastly black. The black room is the least popular room for guests and features a blood red window and an ominous grandfather clock that chimes every hour. Everyone enjoying the party stops each hour to listen to the chiming and there is an uneasiness over the whole party. Eventually a mysterious gaunt figure dressed in red comes out of the crowd and commands attention. Prince Prospero, outraged that the figure in red has harassed his quests, chases him into the black room. A scream is heard and the guests rush in to find Prospero dead from a knife wound while the clock once again chimes the hour. Soon everyone in the party has fallen dead and the mysterious figure, the Red Death, holds “dominion over all”.
Personal Evaluation Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” is full of imagination and clever imagery. I loved how Prince Prospero, being the eccentric character he is, colors each room including the room destined to put anyone who goes in it to death. The physical representation of Death as a red figure was something that is very unique. It seems like the perfect portrayal. The only thing that bothered me about the story was the way it ended. I understood the significance of the character of “Red Death”, but the significance of the chiming of the clock seems to puzzle me. It must have more significance than just signaling when another death is about to occur. Overall, it was an entertaining read, and I am sure anyone would enjoy the story.
“The Oval Portrait” Summary In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Oval Portrait”, a young man, staying at an inn, discovers a painting with a chilling history. At night the young man, disturbed by a presence in his bedchamber, sees a mysterious painting lying against one wall. His curiosity increases when he finds a book that unlocks the mystery of the painting. The book tells of a dedicated and passionate artist in the prime of his career. Recently married, he decides to capture the image of his beautiful young wife forever. The young painter, busy at work, makes his bride stay still day and night. Once the painter finally finishes his masterpiece, he looks up to see, to his horror that his wife has perished from malnourishment and sadness right before him. His painting is the only source of her beauty left.
“Yet she smiled on
and still on, uncomplainingly,
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Oval Portrait” is a favorite of mine for a few reasons. I love the mystery and romance expressed at the beginning when the portrait is first discovered. When I look at portraits of people, I always wonder what the story is of that person and where they were from. I also often wonder what their life was like when that portrait was done, and this story tells that tale to the readers. We get to know the history of the mysterious portrait and its tragedy. I also love the fact that the artist was very passionate and dedicated to his art, but I do wish he had spent more time with his wife. Overall, it was a very interesting and suspenseful story that left me wondering what was going to be the “shocker” of the story. When the reader finds out that the wife of the painter has died, it’s both shocking and somewhat to be expected in Poe’s writing.
because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him”
“A Dream Within a Dream” “O God! can I not
grasp Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?”
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “Dream within a Dream”, Poe expresses his sorrow at having to let go of the past. It seems a drastic change in his life must have occurred in his life to explain his reluctance. Poe seems unwilling and hesitant about letting go of fond memories he had. He says that everything in his life doesn’t seem real, but that it feels like a distant dream or a fantasy. Poe also expresses the idea that just because moments in our lives become memories, that doesn’t mean those precious moments were any less real then they were at that time.
Personal Evaluation Edgar Allan Poe’s “Dream within a Dream” made me feel that what Poe was expressing about not wanting to let go was true. I think that it is a feeling that everyone experiences. In the poem, Poe says that he wishes he could hold on to those memories with a “tighter clasp”, and it is true that we all have memories that we wish could be with us forever. Poe, in his own way, was able to communicate the sadness and longing that every human has. This poem was definitely a memorable one for me, and I hope it will be for future generations of readers and lovers of Poe’s work.
“Alone” Summary In the poem “Alone”, Poe speaks mainly of himself. He expresses his own childhood emotions and frustrations. He talks about being very different from other children, and not enjoying the same things the other children were. In the poem, it seems he is haunted by some event in the past. It could possibly have been the deaths of his parents, or even being belittled by is foster father when he was a young man. Poe talks about the fact that nobody liked the same things he did or saw the world the same way he saw it. It seems that he is saying that no matter where he is in the world, he is always going to feel alone. This feeling of loneliness could possibly have lingered for a long time in his life even after the experiences were long over with.
Personal Evaluation Edgar Allan Poe’s “Alone” was intriguing from the first read. Knowing Poe’s history, I knew he was speaking from his own experience about loneliness and isolation. I identified with his inability to fit in with others, and it made me feel connected to Poe as a person. I think that when a person can connect personally or emotionally with someone they look up to, it really makes an impact. This poem could be for anyone who has felt they were outsiders compared to the rest of the world. When an idea or feeling, like feeling alone in Poe’s case, once it is put into writing or song or image, has the amazing ability to reach, impact, and connect so many people for generations.
“From the same source I have not taken My sorrow; I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone; And all I loved, I loved alone.”