Symbols in Poe’s Writing

Richard Garcia
Mr. Swift
American Studies
June 3, 1998

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. He was born to a
southern family that were in a Traveling company of actors. His father David poe was
from a Baltimore family. He was an actor by profession and a Heavy drinker. Soon after
Edgar Allan Poe was born, David left his family. Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe,
was a widow at the age of eighteen. Two years after Edgar’s birth Elizabeth died of
tuberculosis. Poe remembered, when he was little, his mother being carried off by men
dressed in black while she was vomiting blood. When his mother died, Poe was adopted
by John Allan (Perry XI) and C. In 1815 John Allan and his family moved to England.
While in England Poe was sent to a private school.
In the spring of 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia. At the University he
had an excellent scholastic record. Almost at once he ran into difficulties. His foster
father did not provide any financial support for school fees and other necessities. Poe
became homesick. At school he began to drink. Soon he was in debt for over two
thousand dollars. Poe discovered that he could not depend on his foster father for any
financial needs. John Allan refused to pay for any of Edgar’s debts, therefore he had to
withdrawal from the University.
In May of 1827, Poe enlisted in the army as a common soldier. Poe enlisted under
the name of Edgar A. Perry. He was stationed on Sullivan’s Island in the Charleston
Harbor for a little over one year. Poe adapted to military life and discipline and rose
quickly to the rank of sergeant major. After a while Poe became tired of the same daily
routine of military life. Poe wrote several letters to his foster father, quite regularly.
After the death of Frances Allan, Poe met with John Allan in February of 1829. On July
first of 1830, Poe enlisted in West Point. While Edgar was at West Point, John Allan,
who had remarried, continued to not support Poe with enough money. Poe decided to
have him self kicked out of school by cutting classes and disregarding orders. HE was
court marshaled for neglect of duties in January of 1831, and left West Point the next
In 1831, Poe published a new edition of poems entitled, Poems. Poe went to New
York, but could not find a job. Eventually he found refuge with his aunt, Mrs. Clemm in
Baltimore. There he decided to seek employment and make a living by writing. With
failure in writing poems, Poe turned to writing short stories. Poe competed in a short
story contest in 1831. Poe did not win the contest so he started on an ambitious project.
Poe decided to plan a series of tales, but he could not find a publisher for these stories.
Poe again entered the contest in June of 1835. He entered one poem and six short stories.
His story, “Ms. Found in a Bottle,” won, and he was rewarded with one hundred dollars.
Poe was employed as an editor in the Southern Literary Messenger, published in
Richmond. While in Richmond, Poe married his cousin, Virginia, who was almost
fourteen years old. Poe was fired in January of 1837, due to alcohol.
Edgar went back to New York, were he was again unsuccessful. In the summer of
1838 Poe moved to Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, he worked as an editor of two
magazines. Poe moved back to New York once again and became and assistant editor for
the Evening Mirror. The very famous poem “The Raven,” first appeared on January 29,
1845. “The Raven” became very popular and was published in all different news papers
and magazines. In 1845 Poe published a collection of his tales and edition of his poems
called The Raven and Other Poems. Poe also became the editor of the weekly Broadway
Journal. Poe fell in Love with Virginia and she died of in January of 1848, her death sent
Poe into deep depression. The following year, 1849. Poe’s stories and poems contain
several symbols. Some symbols are very obvious while other symbols are subtle.
“The Raven” is one of Poe’s greatest poems, which is about a lonely man that
tries to ease his sorrow for this lost love, the man does this by distracting himself with old
books of “forgotten lore.” The man is interrupted by a tapping at his door. when he