Edgar Allan Poe – American Literature Research Paper

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Edgar Poe is one of the poets whose work is widely read across the world. He is one of the first American writers who managed to rely completely on writing as a source of livelihood. Edgar Poe was born in Boston in 1809. His father left the family while Edgar was still very young. His mother died of tuberculosis in late 1811. After the death of his mother, Edgar Poe was taken by a rich merchant family. It is from this family that the boy was brought up. The main themes that are evident in his work are the themes of death and love.

Thesis Statement

In his work, Edgar has concentrated in various issues that face people in the society. Some of the main themes that are common in most of his work are love, death and women. This study seeks to analyze these themes based on his different works.

A significant portion of Edgar Poe’s work emphasizes the reflections of death and the questions about life after death. For instance, the theme of death is clearly demonstrated in the poem Eldorado. In this poem, the protagonist is determined to achieve his life goals (Sova 27). However, he is only able to reach these goals in death. Edgar Poe had spent a significant portion of his work on these two themes. His work was to a great extent influenced by his life experiences.

Another work done by Poe that emphasizes on the theme of death is Annabel Lee. In this poem, Edgar Poe depicts the death of a beautiful woman. This poem relates to the narrator, Poe, who fell in love with Annabel Lee when he was a teenager. He says that his love for her made the angels become jealous (Jackson 253). Although she was loved, death did not hesitate to take Annabel Lee. She died before she could fulfill her goals. In this case, the author talks about the kingdom of the sea.

The kingdom of the sea implies the memory of the speaker. It is revealed that though many years passed after Annabel Lee had left, nonetheless, the recollection about her could not fade from the narrator’s memory. This shows how death obstructs people from realizing their goals.

In his poem, Annabel Lee, the narrator describes how death took this young girl, Annabel. He speaks of a chilling wind from the sky that emerged resulting in the death of her wife. The author is very convinced that it is the angels who blew the cloudy sky that caused the death of a loving wife. In line 26, the narrator further emphasizes the strength of the love between him and his departed wife.

In his statement, he says that they experienced the love that had never been experienced by older and wiser people (BookRags par 5). This further reveals the love that existed between the narrator and his wife.

Even after the death of his wife (Annabel), the narrator continues adoring and being attached to his wife. He insists that nothing would stop him from loving her. He says that his love for her was beyond death, so it grew even stronger after her death. The narrator talks about the moon and the stars that acted as the messengers who continued to bring her love for him in the form of a dream. Therefore, he believes that their love would remain connected through dreams.

The poem of Annabel reveals the impact that death has on the living. The people are made to suffer when they are left by their beloved ones. For instance, we can see the narrator spending nights by the tomb side where his wife was buried. In this case, he suffers from psychological torture. This also reveals the destruction of the innocence by death.

In this case, Annabel Lee was killed by the angels, not because of her sins, but because they had a strong relationship with the narrator. The poem indicates that although this scenario had taken place sometime before, the speaker was still in grief. This further features the sufferings that death caused to the bereaved (BookRags 30).

This poem indicates that death did not only affect the people who died, but also the people who were left behind. The people who continue living are affected and injured by death. Death leads to distortion of the memory and reality. For example, the speaker does not attempt to give physical or medical reasons for the death of Annabel Lee. He just attributes Annabel’s death to the chilling wind. This may lead to distortion of reality.

The speaker believes that something like a disease or accident was not enough to separate him from his loving wife. He strongly believes that it was only the supernatural powers that had the authority to do so. The causes of death that the speaker gives reveal the people’s inability to accept death. This can be seen as a psychological weakness (BookRags 20).

In his poems, Edgar Poe concludes differently about death. Death is seen as a foregone conclusion, as the end of a long process of decaying that usually takes a very long time. Some of Edgar Poe’s poems significantly differ from his conclusions about life after death. For instance, both poems, The Raven and Lenore, talk of a deceased female. However, they stick to different opinions of life after death. This reveals the uncertainty among the people on what happens to life after death (Sova 50).

In the poem Lenore, Guy de Vere is more encouraged and hopeful while mourning because he strongly believes that he will see Lenore in Heaven (Poe: Poems by Edgar Allan Pie 2). He believes that when people die, they go to heaven. Therefore, there is a chance of joining the dead in heaven after we die. Contrary to this, in The Raven, there is no hope after death.

The narrator is very desperate and disturbed because he believes that he would never see Lenore once more. On the other hand, Guy de Vere uses biblical words. While mourning, his words were more concerned about the mourners than Lenore. Although it is evident that he had a strong love for Lenore, Guy did not cry; the reason was that he believed in love after death (Poe 6: The Raven).

In the poem The Raven, the narrator is totally affected by the death of his beloved one. In an effort to reduce his sorrow for the lost Lenore, the lonely Guy tries to divert his mind by reading old books.

Unfortunately, he is unable to find a solution to his loneliness. When he is in his chamber reading, he is interrupted by a tap on the door. He stands up and opens the door to be met only by total darkness (Poe 3: The Raven). First, he thinks it is Lenore who has come back, that is why he whispers her name. Unfortunately, he is met by a raven that only increases his sorrow.

The theme of love is also very common in Edgar Poe’s work. Most of the poems he wrote reveal some aspects of love. In most of his poems, the author reveals the nurturing role of a loving woman. His work demonstrates that love belongs to the young and innocent heroines. Even after the death of his beloved woman, many protagonists in Edgars Poe’s works were not disappointed in love. Some of them are obsessed with their beloved ones to the extent of becoming absent minded.

In the poem Annabel Lee, the narrator reveals his love to a young woman called Annabel Lee. He developed a strong love for her while they were still young. He says that even all the creatures were jealous of their love.

Unfortunately, the death comes and takes Annabel Lee. But the narrator does not forget her. For instance, the narrator sleeps next to her grave every day (Sova 25). His love for Annabel is divine and also everlasting to the extent of disturbing the sea creatures. The narrator’s obsession of Annabel Lee is so strong that the heavenly beings decide to inflict death on Annabel Lee.

In the poem, Annabel Lee, lines 5-6 reveal the narrator’s relationship with Annabel. They show how much she was devoted and that she was always there to love and to be loved by him (Sova 26). In the seventh line, the narrator mentions the word child once more. This repetition indicates that the love between Annabel and the narrator was innocent.

Child, in this case, symbolizes innocence. Their love was pure and not corrupted by the adult world. The narrator also uses hyperbole to reveal how strong the relationship between him and her lover was. For instance, he says that the winged seraphs envied them (Sova 27).

The theme of love is also clearly featured in the poem Illume. In this case, the narrator is deeply in love with a young woman. Unfortunately, the young woman is taken by death at the climax of her youth. Due to the deep love, the narrator has developed for her, he becomes obsessed. For instance, he is seen walking across the woods, but his mind is drawn to his departed lover’s grave.

In this poem, the narrator is so deeply in love with the departed woman, so he wishes to be dead so that he will not suffer anymore. The poem Ululume manages to balance life and death. In this poem, death is seen as an evil force. It takes a young woman who is in the prime of her life (BookRags 35).

The Annabel Lee poem portrays a picture of a narrator who is in a tough struggle with other people in society, who are more powerful. These people pose a big challenge or barrier to the speaker and his love for Annabel Lee.

Initially, the speaker indicates that their youthful love was opposed by the adult world. Finally, the opposition comes from the most powerful beings (i.e. the angels) that finally cause the death of his wife. However, the speaker does not quit the struggle. He continues his fight against the powerful forces even after her lover is taken.

Most of Edgar’s work has discussed women in society (BookRags 10). He has written many poems about women who have suffered from the fate of death. Most of them die before they get married. This has revealed the suffering that innocent women have to suffer from the hand of death. For instance, in the poem Annabel Lee, the young lady Annabel is taken by death just as she approaches the climax of her youth. Lee suffered despite the fact that she was innocent.

Edgar has portrayed women as a very important component of a man. In his poems, he has revealed several circumstances where men are obsessed when they lose their loved ones. In his poem The Raven, the narrator is affected by Lenore’s death. He does not want to imagine that Lenore has left because she was very important to him. For instance, even a tap by a raven makes him think that it was Lenore who has come back to him (Poe 6: The Raven).


In conclusion, this discussion has revealed that death, love, and women are the main themes in Edgar Poe’s work. In his work, Edgar has portrayed death as an evil. Death is attributed to the supernatural powers beyond human control. Edgar also emphasized the theme of love and women in his work. He portrays the woman as a very important part of man’s life.

Works Cited

BookRags. “Annabel Lee Themes.” Bookrags, 2011. Web.

Jackson, David. “The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Book).” American Literature 10.2 (1938): 253. Print.

Poe, Edgar Allen. Poems by Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Hayes Barton Press, 2005. Print

Poe, Edgar Allen. The Raven. New York: BompaCrazy.com, 1993. Print

Sova, Dawn. Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print

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