The Autobiographical Elements in the Works of
Edgar Allan Poe

"There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the
proportions" (Biography on Poe 8). Edgar Alan Poe endured a very difficult
life and this is evident in his literary style. He was once titled the "master of
the macabre." One of the aspects in his life with which he struggled was
social isolation. He used this as a topic in a number of poems and short
stories. Poe\'s life was also filled with periods of fear and irrationality. He
had a very sensitive side when it came to the female gender, any woman he
was ever close to died at an early age. Another of his major battles, actually
the only one he really lost, was his struggle with alcoholism. Of all these
topics, Poe\'s favorites were the death of a beautiful woman, a feeling which
he knew all too well, and the general topic of death.
During Poe\'s life, he experienced extreme social isolation. These
feelings of separation began when his father died or disappeared around the
time of the birth of Poe\'s sister, Rosalie. The family then moved and he was
separated from his older brother, who was left with relatives in Baltimore.
During those toddler years, Poe found his mother in the last stages of
tuberculosis. Upon her death, he was then separated from his younger sister,
Rosalie. Another major low point in his life was the death of his foster
mother, Mrs. Frances Allan, and his foster father disowning him, all at one
time. The most significant set-back to Edgar Allan Poe was the death of his
cousin/wife Virginia Clemm. This single incident was the cause of almost all
of his feelings of isolation in his in his adulthood. He felt as though anyone
he became close to would die.
Poe wrote about isolation in many of his most popular works. "A Dream
Within a Dream" was not one of his more popular poems, but it discussed the
difficult process of having to say good-bye to a loved one. He also wrote,
"The Raven," in which the narrator went insane talking to a bird about losing
his lost Lenore and realizing he was all alone. A third poem in which Poe
revealed to the reader his feelings of loneliness was, The Cask of
Amontillado. In this story, the main character Fortunato, was left to die in a
tomb after being tricked by his love\'s father. Lastly, the poem, "Silence,"
strongly suggested that he felt alone in the world, and was longing for
companionship.
Suffering through several periods of fear and irrationality during his life,
Poe included those experiences in many of his more famous works. One of
these periods involved experiences in joining the army in order to get away
from his foster father after the death of his foster mother. Another of these
times was his dismissal from the army which was actually on purpose; he
missed all of his drills and was asked to leave immediately. These periods of
fear and irrationality were the cause of his misfortune and poor social status.
He was looked down upon by his peers for these episodes.
" A constant theme of Edgar Allan Poe was madness" ("Short Stories,"
1995, p. 1). Poe expressed this theme throughout almost all of his short
stories and poems. " Many of his stories exhibited abnormal states of mind
and are constructed in terms of a single mad obsession" (Hervey 1). His
insane ways made his work stand out from the normal short story, or poem.
He was able to twist his stories and poems around in a way that almost
seemed real, and was definitely intriguing. An example of this could be found
in the Black Cat. The character took the eyes out of the first cat and then
killed it. After that he proceeded to "accidentally" kill his wife with an ax,
and bury her in a wall. Another example of Poe\'s insanity demonstrated
within his works was located in The Tell Tale Heart, where Edgar stalked a
man and eventually killed him. He then dismembered the body, took out his
heart, and buried the man under the house. He later confessed to the police
because he believed he could hear the heartbeat of the man.
Formed very early in his life, Edgar Allan Poe had quite an attraction to
females. It began when his father left him at the age of two and never
returned, thus he never had a real father role in his life. A second
contribution to his attraction