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Was Edgar Allan Poe insane?Was Edgar Allan Poe insane? My class is debating that...

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lover-gurl-312 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 10, 2008 at 5:43 PM via web

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Was Edgar Allan Poe insane?

Was Edgar Allan Poe insane? 

My class is debating that topic, and I don't know what to say.

 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:22 PM (Answer #2)

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Is Stephen King insane? Or any other author of horror and/or gothic fiction? Despite the dark nature of his poems and short stories, we don't have the evidence to say whether he was mentally ill. What we can say from them is that he certainly knew what madness looked like. Could a person who was truly insane describe its effects so well?

Poe knew sadness and grief his whole life. His mother died when he was only a baby, he frequently argued with his foster father, and his beloved wife died of tuberculosis. One morning he was found unconscious on the streets and died not long after. There is evidence that he was an alcoholic and that his death was caused by his drinking. There is even a story that he was a victim of voter fraud. There was a group of people who would take drunk men to various voting precincts, getting them progressively drunker so that they couldn't say they had already voted, and have them vote for a candidate several times. But we have as much proof of that as we have that Poe was insane.

Visit the links below, especially the Poe Museum, for more information.

http://www.enotes.com/annabel-lee/author-biographyhttp://www.poemuseum.org/poes_life/index.html
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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 10, 2008 at 8:11 PM (Answer #3)

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I agree that there is no diagnosis of insanity, but I think a case could be made for bipolar disorder (aka manic depression).  It seems that Poe had periods of enormous creativity followed by bottoming lows.  He also had a habit of writing about the "double self," thus lending credence to the belief that he felt torn between two existences.  

Some of his behavior was quite odd as well.   I recall reading in his biography that when his wife (and 13 year old cousin) died, he had a strict ritual of walking around her grave a certain number of times each night, perhaps indicating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.) 

Of course, it's impossible to diagnose after-the-fact, but many depressives tend to self-medicate with alcohol, perhaps temporarily relieving his pain but ultimately exacerbating his condition.

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soap2009 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 19, 2008 at 2:32 PM (Answer #9)

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Was Edgar Allan Poe insane?

Was Edgar Allan Poe insane? 

My class is debating that topic, and I don't know what to say.

 

  He was... almost insane. His parents both died while he was at a young age... his wife Annabel Lee died, he was a college dropout... there's allot of stuff that contributes to it... but he wasn't really. INSANE insane. He just had a difficult life.

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sriggl1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 9, 2008 at 10:35 AM (Answer #10)

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Is Stephen King insane? Or any other author of horror and/or gothic fiction? Despite the dark nature of his poems and short stories, we don't have the evidence to say whether he was mentally ill. What we can say from them is that he certainly knew what madness looked like. Could a person who was truly insane describe its effects so well?

Poe knew sadness and grief his whole life. His mother died when he was only a baby, he frequently argued with his foster father, and his beloved wife died of tuberculosis. One morning he was found unconscious on the streets and died not long after. There is evidence that he was an alcoholic and that his death was caused by his drinking. There is even a story that he was a victim of voter fraud. There was a group of people who would take drunk men to various voting precincts, getting them progressively drunker so that they couldn't say they had already voted, and have them vote for a candidate several times. But we have as much proof of that as we have that Poe was insane.

Visit the links below, especially the Poe Museum, for more information.

http://www.enotes.com/annabel-lee/author-biographyhttp://www.poemuseum.org/poes_life/index.html


Poe was brilliant- Stephen King not so much.

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kadickinson91 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2008 at 4:35 PM (Answer #11)

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In responce to #9- Annabel Lee was his last poem, not his wife's name. His wife and cousin's name was Virginia, I believe, correct me if I am wrong. I cannot say if Poe was truly insane, but recent studies have proved rabies to be the final cause of his death. Rabies, as you may know, has a stage of insanity, so he may have written many stories well known today, while in his insane state.

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kristenstewartfan | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 3, 2008 at 7:21 PM (Answer #12)

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My class is also debating that topic.
I am writing a five paragraph essay on it right now.
I say he's insane, but talented.
And thank you to all these people who posted, it helped me a lot.
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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM (Answer #13)

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If you read his rather autobiographical poem "Alone," you'll read that he always saw things differently than others did.  He was not moved by the same passions as others, nor did he react as others did.  Poe's life was a series of tragedies, all adding up to some kind of mental disturbance.  We'd be better equipped today to diagnose and treat such things.  It's interesting to think of "what might have been" in such a case. 

Lori Steinbach

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