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The Raven Teaching Unit
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Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, MA, on January 19, 1809. Poe’s parents, both touring actors, died before he was three years old. Subsequently, he was taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy Virginia merchant. Poe studied for five years in England (1815-1820), and enrolled at the University of Virginia, albeit attending for only a year. In 1827, Poe self-published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, an anthology of verse written in the manner of the famed Romantic writer, Lord Byron.
Following a brief attempt at military service (Poe studied at West Point for six-months), he moved to Baltimore, MD, with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia. Poe supported himself and his family by publishing his fiction. In 1835, Poe, his aunt, and his cousin moved to Richmond, VA, where he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. It was at this time that Poe married Virginia, who was not yet 14 years old.
Poe continued to prosper as a writer, critic, and journalist. His success, however, came to a tragic halt in January, 1847, when Virginia died. Poe’s poetry shows the intense emotional toll that Virginia’s death took on him. Two years later, on October 7, 1849, Poe was found unconscious on a Baltimore street. In a brief obituary, the Baltimore Clipper reported that Poe had died of “congestion of the brain,” although the exact cause of his death has never been conclusively proven.
The poems in this anthology can be taught in a number of ways. If one treats the poems in order of presentation, an adequate study can be made of the chronological progression of Poe’s poetry throughout his life. Such an approach will allow students to trace the influence of events in his life, as well as to examine the variations of style that occur within the boundaries Poe set.
The poems can also be treated by their subject matter. Units can easily be developed based on the ideas and feelings of love, loss, death, prayer, anger, and hope. Treated as such, the poems in the book will allow students to grasp the continuity of Poe’s poems. The themes and messages presented can be seen clearly. Additionally, close readings of poems in units may allow for lively discussions on his treatment of a variety of topics.
About this Document
A teaching unit and individual learning packet from Prestwick House. Includes the following: comprehensive chapter-by-chapter study guides for students; questions suitable for essay topics or discussion; vocabulary lists; multiple-choice and essay test with answer key; introductory material from Prestwick House to familiarize both students and teachers with the work.
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