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Edgar Allen Poe: Toward Romantic Maturity, Research Paper Example

Pages: 39

Words: 10770

Research Paper

Poe’s complete works in prose, poetry, and criticism reflect a form of American Romanticism.  Poe’s Romanticism is peculiarly different in many ways from British Romanticism while retaining many important similarities. Almost all of Poe’s most outstanding and enduring works from his early “Sonnet to Science” to his late, self-proclaimed masterpiece Eureka (1848) incorporate substantial romantic elements. While it is true that Poe’s slender output of poetry divulges his link to British Romanticism much more overtly than his fiction, Poe’s literary criticism and prose works do contribute to his standing as an important romantic writer. The ways in which Poe’s work combines what might be considered traditional romantic motifs and concerns with ideas and themes that are less often associated with the Romantic Movement indicates a form of Romanticism that strives for a greater sophistication and maturity than what may be visible for many readers on the surface.

So, for example, Poe’s “The Tale of the Ragged Mountains” (1844) may, as Daniel J. Philippon indicates in  his article “Poe in the Ragged Mountains: Environmental History and Romantic Aesthetics” reveal itself as “deliberately obscure, full of multifarious Romantic-Gothic elements which never quite cohere.”1 At the same time, poems such as “Alone” (1875) or “To Helen” (1831) stand as nearly quintessential Romantic works.  Poe’s special combination of the romantic and the macabre results in a literary style that touches as much on philosophy and phenomenology as on literary technique. It is through an examination of Poe’s romantic themes that the most rewarding and thorough reading of his works can be attained. Therefore, the following discussion will concentrate on those aspects of Romanticism that are evident in Poe’s poetry, fiction, and criticism with a view toward understanding how these themes relate to important ideas regarding nature, society, human nature, education and the American identity.

These insights are important in regard to developing an understanding of Poe’s literary works. These same insights are also useful in developing a vision of American Romanticism as a whole. One of the key frameworks that are provided by a study of Poe as a romantic writer is that which relates to his depiction of nature both in prose and in poetry. It is by studying Poe’s view of nature that eventual insight into his social, political, and philosophical themes is best attained. This is due to the fact that Poe, as a romantic writer, remains indebted to Rousseau’s idea of social contract. As Thomas McFarland mentions in Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau (1995), the basic idea that humanity is inherently “free” in a state of nature is central to Social Contract theory. McFarland writes that “The Social Contract of 1762 had proclaimed at its outset the striking paradox that man is born free, and is everywhere in chains.” 2 The struggle between the individual and collective society stands as an enormously important theme in Poe’s collected literary works.

The conflict between individualism and collective society that is everywhere apparent in Poe’s work is a suitable place to begin an exploration of Poe as a Romantic writer. The theme of “outsider” is not only common in Poe’s work, it is nearly constant. From Auguste Dupin, to Hans Pfall and Hop Frog, Poe’s fiction teems with characters who are ostracized, exiled, or otherwise placed in conflict with collective society. Likewise, Poe’s poetry involves a deep exploration of the themes of isolation and misanthropy. As previously mentioned, Poe’s famous poem, “Alone” stands as a very strong example of Poe’s romanticism. The poem also stands as a simultaneous tribute to nature and to the perseverance of the lonely exile. A glance at the poem’s opening lines confirmed that the theme of outsider is, in fact, the focus of the poem. Closer inspection of the lines shows that the theme outsider is transformed by Poe from a theme of sadness to one of sacred devotion. The transition of theme in the poem is a celebration of nature and the human imagination, two hallmarks of Romanticism.

The opening lines of “Alone” are declarative and simplistically constructed from the point of view of diction and figurative language. The first two line state an explicit theme of ostracization: “From childhood’s hour I have not been / As others were — I have not seen / As others saw — I could not bring / My passions from a common spring.” 3 The directness of the lines expresses the theme in a forthright manner but also hints that there is something less definitive beneath the surface of the lines. This feeling is brought out by the fact that no reason is (yet) given for the speaker of the poem to feel cut off from society. The first use of figurative language in the poem which equates the speaker’s feelings with a “spring” is a reference to nature. As the poem develops, Poe connects the themes of social exile and the exaltation of nature. This is obvious by the imagery in later lines which features “the torrent” and “the red cliff of the mountain” as well as references to sun, wind, thunder and lightning. 4

The way that “Alone” relies on imagery of nature to convey rather than explicitly state the reason for the speaker’s ostracization is another important signature of Romanticism. The inferential explanation through complex or even irrational figurative language that is given in the closing lines “(When the rest of Heaven was blue) / Of a demon in my view” 5 remains just as mysterious to many readers as having had no explanation given in the first place. It is as though Poe is suggesting that the isolation of the speaker is deeply connected to the phenomena of nature but a direct explanation for how this dynamic works is impossible to state. Instead, the reason and meaning of exile must be conveyed through inference, like a secret code. This, of course, imparts to the reader that nature must also be read as a code.

In his study, The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution (1957), John Bayley remarks that Romanticism in often prioritizing feeling over rational sense becomes increasingly steeped in inference rather than in direct communication. He observes that “The Romantic indifference to form ensures that verse, which has always tended to be considered irrational anyway, will now become the accepted receptacle for irrationality.” 6 This observation brings up a key point in understanding the depiction of nature that is present not only in Poe but in Romantic literature as whole. This point is that a form of exaltation exists in nature that appears irrational to a civilized person but which, nonetheless, provides a deeper and more sustaining nourishment for the individual than collective society. Seen in this way, it is possible to at last discern the reason that the narrator of “Alone” stands outside of society: because he (or she) has glimpsed the “higher” rationality of nature and now is unable to accept the lower, less nourishing “truth” of human society.

A similar theme is articulated in another one of Poe’s most enduringly popular poems “Sonnet to Science” (1829). This poem celebrates nature by lamenting the impact of modern society on the natural environment and on what might best be called the “poetic spirit” of the poem’s speaker. The poem contains phrases which characterize science as corrupting, such as  “Vulture, whose wings are dull realities.” 7 The true crime of science throughout the poem is that it attacks both nature and the poet’s imagination of “dream.” The closing lines of the poem boldly state this indictment of science and modern society in the form of a series of rhetorical questions. The last three lines merge nature and the mythic imagination “Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, / The elfin from the green grass, and from me / The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?” 8 What is conspicuous about these lines is that they suggest that science not only corrupts the natural world, but also the mind.

The unity of the imagination and nature is the most fundamental of all the principles of Romanticism. That Poe, in “Sonnet to Science” chooses to portray the rational faculties of the human mind as a threat not only to nature but to the human imagination is very important. It suggests that Poe’s theme in the poem is that nature and not human rationality are the aspects of human experience that should be held sacred and exalted above all other experiences. This theme shows that, for Poe, it was only through encounters with nature that human capacity was fully realized. One of the chief components of human nature was the mythic imagination. Exploring the connection between the natural world and the human imagination is seen, by Poe, to be the most important function of poetry. However, this exploration is not carried out purely through rational means but admits the stuff of dreams, intuition, and emotion.

Bayley writes that Romanticism held as one of its main goals, the exploration of the human imagination. Romantic literature attempts to describe and “map” the emotions and psychological intimations of the human experience. In Bayley’s view, “the great Romantics [tried] to establish a unity of the imagination and to explore and resolve the mind’s qualities.”9 The insistence on “unity” is another attribute of Romanticism that will prove to be highly important in the discussion of Poe and American Romanticism. The unity that the Romantic writers sought in their introspective exploration of the human imagination was already present and identifiable in nature.

That, at least, is the theme that many Romantic writers wanted to express and it is this theme that propels much of Poe’s romantic work, most certainly “Alone” and “Sonnet to Science,” among many others. The easiest way to grasp how this theme operates is to envision that Poe, like many other Romantic writes, held nature to be complete and unified both in function and expression. This is the reason that nature must be read like a code, but it is also the reason that, once understood, its mysteries must be expressed not only through the faculties of reason but through imagination and passion as well. These ideas are obviously evident in the two poems discussed above, but they also form the root principles of important works such as Eureka or The Fall of the House of Usher (1839).

Poe’s unique vision of the connection between the poetic or literary imagination and nature is based in the idea that life experience can be read as a narrative or poem. In other words, the meaningfulness of human experience resides not only in rational understanding but in emotive and intuitive experiences that connect aspects of human consciousness to nature and to preternatural or even supernatural forces.  By combining a vision of nature with an exploration of the “darker” side of the human imagination, Poe articulated a form of Romanticism that stands apart from British Romanticism due to the macabre and sinister tone of much of Poe’s literary output. So, for example, in Poe’s tale, Mesmeric Revelation (1844), the contours of human imagination are explored through the technique of mesmerism, which, in turn, brings about an articulation of a metaphysical vision.

Robert L. Gale, in his study, Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1970) observes that the theme of “Mesmeric Revelation” is, in fact, the intuitive discovery of the Divine nature of the universe. He writes that, in the context of the story, God is expressed as “less a spirit than a quality like truth or beauty. He is matter but unparticled matter, indivisible, one, matter in motion, thought.”10 This vision of metaphysics is in keeping with the romantic ideal of nature and the human psyche as emanations of a higher, divine source. In other words, the romantic conception of divinity is one that upholds a deep, if not inseparable, connection between human imagination and God. Although it would be somewhat simplistic to suggest that romantic ideas about metaphysics suggest that God is “embedded” in the human imagination, it is not too simplistic to suggest that, for Poe, as for other romantic writers, the revelation of God’s existence is embedded in human consciousness.

This sentiment is echoed in the works of other romantic writers such as Coleridge and Shelley. The main thrust of this metaphysical perspective is that the human imagination exists as a vehicle or instrument which acts as a conduit for divine revelation. The mode of revelation can be emotional, intuitive, or rational, but it is always of a revelatory nature. This means that, in the romantic conception, both nature and human consciousness reveal the same Divine imprint. Furthermore, it is not necessary, by this reasoning that the intellect and imagination take cues only from the natural world. It is entirely possible for the revelation of Divine nature to take place wholly within the imagination. This is certainly an underlying theme in “Mesmeric Revelation” where Vankirk, under the influence of hypnosis describes a metaphysical reality that is steeped in a veneer of scientific rationality.

Bayley remarks that for romantic writers such as Coleridge and Shelley, this same basis of perception operates in a fundamental way to not only express a romantic ideal of nature and the human mind, but to express a fundamental principle of literary expression. Bayley observes that Coleridge, for example, willfully distorted the objective perception of nature to fulfill poetic and mystical visions.  He writes that “Coleridge’s detail […] reflects his constant preoccupation with the modes of perception–into both nature and the mind–and with that ordering and synthesizing […] which Kant had postulated as the Imagination’s main function.”11 The idea that the imagination removed from experience of the objective world is still capable of transmitting objective, if metaphysical, ideas about the nature of reality is a central theme of Romanticism. This idea is central to Poe’s “Mesmeric Revelation” just as it central to many of Poe’s literary works, whether in prose or verse form.

One of the consequences of this premise in romantic literature is that modes of perception that diminish or exclude altogether the influence of the objective, material world create a sense of abstraction that works against the visceral impact of a given romantic work. For example, as Bayley observes, that the tendency toward abstraction that is evident in much of romantic literature creates a kind of vacuum of ideas where the initial convictions of the author or poet are simply extended into literary ideas without any intervening support in objective reality. In the case of Shelley, Bayley writes that “conflict is seen entirely in vague mythological terms, with the poet moreover as so earnest a partisan of his own ideals that no alternatives to them seem actual.” 12 This could be considered a form of solipsism. In fact, it is this very principle of abstraction that admits the greatest weaknesses in romantic writing.

This point of weakness brings up an interesting aspect of Poe’s particular mode of Romanticism.  Rather than ignoring the potential for creating a literary “echo chamber” in the way described above, Poe attempted to compensate for this by creating, in many of his literary works  a “scientific” or rational scaffolding.  This tendency in Poe demonstrates that he was aware that “Romantic poetry was in danger of becoming a purely contemplative and exploratory power […] which had lost the art of representing dramatically the conflicts between, say, man as an individual and as a social being, or between his illusions about his environment and the reality about it.”13 For this reason, Poe’s works generally rely on an obvious empirical basis.  More accurately, his works rely on the appearance of empiricism. Such is certainly the case with “Mesmeric Revelation” where the metaphysical assertions contained in the story are balanced by a frame of scientific reference.

Another example of this strain of Romanticism in Poe is his famous prose-poem Eureka which combined fluid poetic allusion with scientific and astronomical science in order to create an all-encompassing vision of the universe. The overall impact of Eureka is difficult to assess due to its being lodged somewhere in between scientific and poetic, or even satirical, writing. If the preceding discussion of Poe’s scientific-Romanticism seems to suggest that Poe constructed a veneer of rationality over the more irrational aspects of human imagination this is because Poe’s perspective toward imaginative insight included the idea that the imagination and nature were not only complimentary or even symbiotic, but actually unified.

This is one of the strongest principles that are evident in in Romanticism. However, the reliance by romantic writers on subjective, rather than empirical observation lends a special nuance to the idea that nature and the human imagination are indistinct. This special nuance involves a degree of narcissism. It involves the projection of personal experiences and insights onto nature and it involves the elevation of subjective fantasies, dreams, and perceptions, to the level of “objective” truth. This process is demonstrated not only by Romantic writers of poetry and prose, but by philosophers, such as Rousseau who attempted to impose their personal vision as an act of nature. McFarland notes that Rousseau’s comments at the end of his philosophical work Confessions (1782) indicate the same strain of romantic projection as is evident in Poe’s Eureka. He reminds us that Rousseau left no room for counter-opinion regarding his assertions about the nature of his personal experiences: “I have told the truth. If anyone knows anything contrary to what I have here recorded, though he prove it a thousand times, his knowledge is a lie and an imposture.”14

This same veneer of rational certainty is evident in much of Poe’s work, from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) to the “Gold Bug” (1843). The use of rational constructs such as cryptology, mesmerism, astronomy, and “ratiocination” by Poe throughout his literary works is best understood as an outgrowth of the tendency on behalf of romantic writers to erase the separation between the self and the objective universe. In fact this refusal to separate individual sensation and experience from the totality of universal experience is one of the most fundamental attributes of Romanticism. This idea must be kept firmly in mind when interpreting Romantic writers. Obviously, Poe’s reliance on the trappings of rationality in his prose works is carried over into his poetic works as well. However, in the case of poetry, the rational or mathematical elements of the works are generally carried out through the underlying features of the poem while the subject or theme of the poem remains steeped in subjective sensation. The way that Poe incorporated rational elements into poetry was to focus on the construction of a poem with the same linear, rational approach that he utilized to code and de-code ciphers.

The most explicit evidence of this is Poe’s celebrated work “The Rationale of Verse” (1848). In this essay, Poe attempts to arrive at a definitive statement on the nature of poetic form. The entire essay is devoted to a mathematical investigation of American prosody. Poe delivers a theory that is as mechanical as it is personal, and arrives at the conclusion that the appropriate prosody for American poetry is a rhythm and diction which is unsuitable for ancient Greek or Roman models. He goes on to assert that poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, by adopting ancient or foreign models for prosody in American poetry wind up writing prose arranged in verses rather than true poetry. The manner in which Poe reaches these conclusions is based entirely on logic and linear reasoning.

This same tactic is used by Poe in another work on poetic theory “The Poetic Principle” (1850). This work purports to go beyond the scope of prosody and to address issues of theme and substance in poetry. Bringing to bear the same relentless logic as he used in “The Rationale of Verse,” Poe reaches some very startling conclusions about the nature and purpose of poetry. Poe writes that the function of poetry is not to educate or to inform; it is to excite an emotional response in the reader. His assertion that  “a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul” 15 forms the fundamental principle of his further conclusions. Everything else that is observed by Poe in “The Poetic Principle” proceeds from this central conviction. Of course, although Poe presents his case in a logical, highly linear way, even the most casual reader of the essay might question his sweeping assertions. The reasoning that is used by Poe in the essay gives the appearance of being rationally considered and logically pursued. However, the many of the conclusions drawn by Poe about the function and nature of poetry are, to say the least, idiosyncratic and perhaps even eccentric. This universalization of personal feelings and convictions is, as mentioned, a hallmark of many Romantic writers and thinkers.

The danger of connecting subjective perceptions and convictions with objective “truth” is that Romantic writers such as Poe are unable to distinguish between personal passions or even obsession and the empirical nature of a given object, process, or experience. So, when Poe writes in “The Poetic Principle” that “a long poem is simply a flat contradiction in terms”16 the average person may take exception with such a sweeping conclusion. In fact, such an assertion would seem to require an enormous amount of evidence to support it in order to be substantiated in the objective world. However, rather than providing this kind of evidence or support, Poe merely uses the assertion that poems should be brief in length as a starting point to diverge into an even larger and more complicated examination of his personal aesthetic convictions.

There is a difference between a manifesto and a measured inquiry into the nature of a given process or subject. Poe’s statements in “The Poetic Principle” are more in keeping with a manifesto than with a treatise on the objective nature of poetry. Poe’s insistence in both style and substance throughout the essay shows that he wanted to avoid the appearance of writing a manifesto while preserving his privilege to rely on subjective emotions and subjective experience  to not only bolster his argument, but to form the entirety of his argument. This means that, far from being an objective or empirical inquiry into the function and form of poetry, “The Poetic Principle” is a manifesto. It is simply a manifesto which uses the appearance of rational method and logical reasoning to arrive at a distinctly personal and distinctly passionate point of view. This “disguised” manifesto is a perfect example of the Poe’s Romantic impulse to raise a personal set of convictions or insights to a level of “scientific” validity. In other words, Poe’s particular form of Romanticism utilizes a reliance on science and analytical objectivity that is distinctly American.

This combination of subjectivity and science is one of the attributes of Poe’s work that helps differentiate his form of Romanticism from the form of Romanticism which is most often associated with British Romanticism. Although as previously mentioned, Poe’s indictment of science in his famous poem “Sonnet to Science” would seem to place him firmly in the bucolic and anti-scientific tradition of British Romanticism, the balance of Poe’s work suggests that, rather than rejecting science altogether, Poe sought to incorporate scientific knowledge, ideas, and vocabulary into his particular form of Romanticism. His example carried through, generations later, to other American Romantics, most notably Hart Crane. Because Crane, like Poe, accepted the idea that nature and the human soul existed in tandem, Crane’s further attempt to incorporate modernity and science into his romantic vision can be seen as a direct continuation of Poe’s Romanticism which both denigrated an embraced science and rationality.

Bayley remarks that one of the central questions of British romanticism was whether or not the emphasis on emotional and imaginative experience practiced by Romantic writers allowed any potential for the poet of the “modern” age to assimilate the realities of science and modern technology. The question is key not only in terms of defining British Romanticism or in distinguishing American Romanticism from other strains, but because it addresses a central theoretical question about the nature of Romanticism itself. That question is whether or not Romanticism was capable of discerning the real world or whether it existed more as a way for poets and writers to cloak the objective world beneath a veneer of prettiness and harmony that was born out of the poet’s desire to distort unpleasant realities.

Bayley observes that the central question of Romanticism in this regard was whether nor not “the phenomena of the modern world [can] only be treated in [an] essentially lightweight way, and turned to favour and to prettiness, or can they be in some way related to a profound and unified vision of human fate?”17 The shortcomings of Romanticism that are implied by this question are simply those aspects of perception and evaluation that are associated with individual, rather than collective, experience. In other words, the adoption by Romantic writers of a vision that seeks to unify emotional and physical experience finds its truest challenge in assimilating the non-emotional world of mechanics and mathematics. The idea that non-emotional realities have as much influence over types and modes of poetic experience cuts straight through to the central ideas and therefore central crisis of Romantic thought.

It is this central question that most helps to define Poe’s mode of Romanticism and to show its impact on American literature as a whole. Poe’s contribution to Romanticism consists not only of his injecting a methodology based on rationality to the compositional theory of Romanticism, but by applying this same system of rationality to the philosophical ideals of Romanticism as a whole.  Poe was not content to allow his work to merely re-state the Romantic convictions that were articulated by British writers, but to state novel idea in the manner of British Romanticism which nevertheless is significantly involved with American culture and the ways in which science and rationality were held to a high social status in American society.

This brings to mind the question of how Poe viewed collective society as a whole. If Poe celebrated the rational and logical aspects of modernity in his poems and tales, he also, as previously demonstrated, willfully embraced the role of exile. This indicates that Poe’s view of human nature was a nuanced and complex as his vision of nature itself. In Poe’s vision of nature, the emotions and the intellect played substantial roles in elevating personal and subjective experience to an understanding of the ways in which nature and imagination communicated Divine information. Nature, like a code, could be read through the imagination and through the rational faculties in order to be understood as emanations of a Divine power.

The interesting thing about Poe’s conception of nature is that appears, at least to modern eyes, to rest on a set of ideals that excludes ideas of morality. That is to say, although Poe celebrates nature and the imagination, he refrains from placing a moral boundary on either. In Poe’s cosmos, the motivation for specific acts or convictions has less to do with ethics and morality than with passion and intuitive conviction. Therefore, a Poe “hero” is more likely than not to exhibit qualities that represent exceptions to the kind of moral and ethical systems that are usually understood to be a part of collective society. While it would be too simplistic to say that Poe celebrates the “outsider” to the exclusion of the socially conventional hero, such a statement can be adequately supported through evidence if it simply modified in a slight fashion. The way to modify the statement to make it resonate more with Poe’s complete literary works is to say that, for Poe, all individuals are, in some respect, outsiders. There is only a degree of self-recognition that acts as a variable.

So, for example, the character of Arthur Gordon Pym appears throughout Poe’s novella The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838) appears to be very different in terms of social conformity than the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart” (1843). A close examination of the two characters reveals more similarities than differences despite the vast contrast in narrative voice. Pym voices his story in a clam, almost bland, voice, while the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart” fumes and fidgets in a highly neurotic manner. On the surface, Pym is a normal person who has undergone abnormal experiences and the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart” is an abnormal person who injects a murderous psychosis into an otherwise banal situation. The opening lines of each of the stories demonstrate this contrast quite clearly. The opening of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym reads: “Upon my return to the United States a few months ago, after the extraordinary series of adventure in the South Sea and elsewhere.”18 The only extraordinary thing about the line or the narrative voice in play is the word “extraordinary” itself.

By contrast, the opening of “The Tell Tale Heart” posits a narrative voice and character that openly defy normalcy: “True! – Nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?”19 The impact of this opening is to telegraph to the reader that the narrator of the story has fallen far outside of the boundaries of rational society. The narrator is obviously insane and has become estranged from usual modes of both perception and ethical or moral sense. The interesting thing about the narrator in addition to the narrator’s obvious insanity is the fact that no real reason is given for his condition. That is, there is nothing moral or immoral about his situation. The narrator of the story seems to be psychotic simply as a matter of course. It is as though Poe is suggesting that there is randomness to the way that insanity and deprivation interact with human affairs.

More accurately, what Poe seems to be describing in the “Tell Tale Heart” is not the aberration of a single character that is in the grip of psychosis, but a description of the universal nature of deprivation and insanity as an integral part of the human condition. That is why Pym, with his pedestrian narrative voice, endures as many deprivations and insanities as the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart” even though he has retained his social persona. For Poe, the nature of human identity resided not only in the persona that was shown to society at large, but in the darkest recesses of the imagination, which included the most abominable and unfathomable aspects of the human mind.  What does this tell us about the way in which Poe viewed human nature? First, it allows us to see that, for Poe, the human psyche, like nature itself, laid claim to a “dark” side.  The same way that nature both revealed and concealed aspects of Divine truth, the human mind both confessed and secreted truths about the root attributes of human nature.

What the comparison between “Pym” and “The Tell Tale Heart” demonstrates is that Poe’s inward glance to the imagination resulted in the literary construction of a symbolic “nature” – one that described the processes of the mind, just as science attempted to describe and understand the outer-world of nature. Polonsky mentions in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe (2002) that the emphasis by English Romantics on the intricacies of the creative process was anchored on the idea that the inner-processes of creativity mirrored the processes of external nature. Polanski writes that  “the English Romantic poets reversed the mimetic model of creativity, and turned their attention from the work of art to the poet’s own creative process, defining art as the communication of the inner processes of the poet’s imagination or soul onto the images of the external world.”20 This presents a complex dynamic in regards to the way in which the Romantic writer tended to view human nature and Poe’s perspective on human nature was certainly steeped in just this kind of model.

The model of nature that was pursued by Poe included the notion that the human imagination and natural processes shared an indelible tie to one-another. Similarly, Poe’s viewpoint on human morality depends on admitting and enduring connection to nature. This perspective is shown quite clearly in Poe’s most famous poem “The Raven” (1845). Obviously, in this poem, several consistent characteristics of Poe protagonists are evident, foremost among them, the incessant move toward melancholy and despair. Just as Roderick Usher from “The Fall of the Hose of Usher” (1839) and Prince Prospero from “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842) embody despair and ruin, the speaker of “The Raven” stands as the quintessential embodiment of human grief. This is shown quite clearly from the opening lines of the poem when the speaker proclaims “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary”21. The alert reader has already guessed that the remainder of the poem will develop as an explanation for the speaker’s sadness and grief.

Of course, that is exactly what is accomplished during the poem, but the explanation for the speaker’s grief and the way that grief is described is both peculiar and extremely important in terms of understanding Poe’s view of human nature. “The Raven” is perhaps Poe’s most enduring and most notable poem; it is also the poem which, above all others, allows for the most complete explication of Poe’s macabre vision of the human condition. To begin to understand Poe’s take on human misery as expressed in the poem, it is necessary to carefully inspect both the story of the poem and the symbolism that is used throughout the poem.

Keeping in mind that the story of the poem actually happens at more than one level, a close reading of the poem’s symbolism and diction helps to reveal Poe’s idea of how the human condition should be understood. Again, for Poe, the consequences of human misery are not based so much in moral or ethical ideas as they are based in an unflinching gaze toward both nature and the human soul. That is to say, in Poe’s conception, the inward gaze always revealed something traumatic and associated with grief. This is because, for Poe, grief was as constant in the human condition as joy or contentment and it was not predicated on morality. This last observation is extremely important because the lack of moral and ethical discrimination in Poe is an important touchstone for understanding his brand of Romanticism. Whereas much of Western literature throughout history offers moralistic poetry and fiction, the idea of ‘poetic justice” in terms of Poe is simply absent. Instead, tragedy and sadness are aspects of human existence that are not only unavoidable, but – to some strange degree – desirable.

That misery and suffering could be in any way desirable is not only an odd literary notion, it is an odd conviction to hold in terms of recognizing human nature. The common conception of morality in fiction and poetry is that tragedy follows a lapse in moral character or a tragic flaw in an otherwise heroic protagonist.  This conception is absent, for the most part, in Poe’s fiction and poetry. Poe’s conception was that the source of poetic emotion was found, not in the portrayal of conflict or inspiration between people and society, but in the emotive impact of specific images and experiences. This means that, for Poe, certain images evoked a more poetic reality than others. For Poe, suffering and misery were not only part of the human condition, but they were emotional realities that formed the very basis of poetic insight and inspiration.  Kent P. Ljungquist writes that Poe’s famous statement that “the death of a beautiful woman is the purest of all poetical themes” was intended to stress “the emotional effect of the literary text on the reader.”22 This is very important to keep firmly in mind as Poe’s vision of human nature is explored.

The reason that Poe prioritized the emotional effect of a poem or story rather than its moral effect or ethical assertion is precisely because, for Poe, the universality of both macabre and tragic experience had little or nothing to do with ethics and morality. Instead, the emotional impact of a poem was intended to be absolutely empty of didactic assertions of moral or ethical consequence. Clearly, Poe saw the human condition as resting as solidly on universal misery and confusion as one social order and moral law.  In the context of “The Raven,” the descent into despair can be seen as simultaneously representing the narrator’s confrontation with his deepest emotions and also showing the narrator’s slow acceptance of the intrinsic reality of nature. The former qualities are shown, of course, by the narrator’s thoughts and actions, whereas the latter quality is shown by the symbol of the raven itself. For example, when the speaker of the poem describes his wonder at the sudden “tapping, tapping” at his chamber door, his chain of thoughts must be understood as a description of looking inwardly at his emotions and outwardly at the physical world of nature at the same time.

When the speaker of the poem describes himself as “Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing / Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” 23 the confusion between the inner and outer worlds is demonstrated quite clearly. The world that the speaker is examining mirrors his inner-emotions almost as though the physical world was merely a manifestation of his inner grief and sorrow. Another important point to make in this regard is that the connection between the inner and outer worlds is reversible: grief and mourning can be said to originate in either the objective or subjective worlds. For Poe, a significant part of human nature is the inevitable capacity to suffer. The fact of suffering is universal and it is not dependent on the moral capacity of the individual. Many readers would probably consider the narrator of “The Raven” to be a sympathetic character and the same can be said of so many of Poe’s protagonists, from Usher to Pym right on through to the narrator of “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1842).

The capacity to feel grief is one of the outstanding qualities of being human in Poe’s work. His poem “Annabel Lee” (1849), for example, elevates the human capacity for suffering and grief to a level of sacred reverence that is generally reserved, by poets, for the articulation of enduring love. Although “Annabel Lee” appears, on the surface, to be a love poem, the true theme of the poem is, as in “The Raven,” the all-encompassing reality of human grief. One significant thing to remember in this connection is that Poe’s expression of melancholy and suffering is intended to occupy the same level of heroic celebration as a poem of ecstasy. It is no stretch to say Poe is not only expressing the innate suffering of being human, he is celebrating the suffering of being human. Obviously, any Judeo Christian conception of the world acknowledges “original sin” and the idea of a ‘fallen” world. Poe’s celebration of human suffering is actually disassociated from morality, so it is a divergence from the common idea of sin and redemption.

If suffering and misery are part of human nature, but are not in any reliant on the specifics of personal character or personal morality, what is the “cause,” according to Poe for this fact of human life? The answer is that Poe regarded the human condition, including aspects of grief and sadness, to be an intrinsic part of the cosmos itself. The grief and suffering that was experienced by an individual in this life was an outgrowth of the natural universe. This is why, in “The Raven,” the emblem of the speaker’s grief is symbolized by a bird, and not by some inanimate object of remembrance such as a portrait, or keepsake. The speaker of “The Raven,” once realizing what the bird’s presence actually means also recognizes that the raven has manifested from nature itself. He screams at the raven to “Get thee back into the tempest”24 which indicates that, for the speaker, the bird and nature are one. The terrible realization that is yet to come in the poem and which is not fully articulated until the poem’s closing lines is that the narrator is, himself, a part of that same tempestuous nature.

The full power of “The Raven” as an expression of human grief comes from the poem’s closing lines. As the speaker of the poem begins to realize that his melancholy and suffering have emanated not from sorrow and loneliness and the loss of “Lenore,” but from the very fabric of nature itself. The narrator remarks that the raven’s eyes “have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming” 25 and closely associated with this vision is his realization that “my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor / Shall be lifted – nevermore!” 26 The words “my soul” can be taken to indicate that the speaker has realized his unbreakable connection to both the tempest (nature) and sorrow (raven).

Similarly, in “Annabel Lee,” the speaker of the poem attributes his sorrow to the death of his lover, and consequently attributes her death to nature. He describes how “A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling / My beautiful Annabel Lee.” 27 The premise of the poem is that nature holds within it a capacity to inflict pain and misery even on those who are undeserving of such a fate. The crime that is suggested in “Annabel Lee” on behalf of the speaker is the crime of immersing in joy and human love to the exclusion of recognizing the true nature of the cosmos. For Poe, the desire to avoid pain constitutes a moral breach. This is a difficult idea to understand because so much of Western literature constitutes a kind of moral instruction where the idea of avoiding tragedy and pain is considered to be the default ambition. In Poe’s world, human nature is not only connected to suffering and pain, it is founded on it.

In the same way that Poe regarded nature and the human imagination to maintain a symbiotic relationship, Poe describes melancholy and suffering as being inextricably bound up in life itself. Human nature, flatly, includes a substantial portion of pain and suffering. There is no avoiding it and the degree to which an individual suffers is not based in any meaningful way on the decisions they make or the kind of behavior they follow in life. As an example of how Poe treats the idea of human suffering as a universal condition, it is useful to examine the character of Auguste Dupin, one of Poe’s most famous and enduring creations. Dupin is one of Poe’s most sympathetic characters in that the reader both identifies with his eccentric individualism and admires his extraordinary capacity for logic and rational thought. However, one of the deeper connections that many readers feel for Dupin is the fact that Dupin, like almost all of Poe’s characters, is afflicted with a malaise or melancholy for which there is no simple explanation. The narrator of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) remarks at an early point in the story that Dupin was “of an illustrious family, but, by a variety of untoward events, had been reduced to such poverty that the energy of his character succumbed beneath it.”29 The implication is that Dupin has been wounded by both poverty and melancholy. The heroic side of Dupin lies in his ability to persevere despite his emotional malaise. However, Poe leaves little doubt as to the mechanism by which Dupin holds on to his fragile sense of self-esteem and self-worth: it is due to his pride in his rational capacities.

The character of Dupin provides a powerful mechanism for understanding Poe’s view of human nature. For Poe, it is humanity’s rational capacities that allow for the coping with the innate deprivations and melancholy of the universe. It is through the delight in comprehending the ways of nature, for good or bad, that human dignity and heroism are even possible. This suggestion would seem to contradict Poe’s assertion, in regard to poetry, that intuitive and emotional experience is much more important and meaningful than experience which rests on rational knowledge. In fact, the contradiction between Poe’s celebration of rationality in his ‘detective” stories and his elevation of emotion and subjective response in his treatise on poetic theory represent a duality. This duality is present throughout Poe’s literary works and must be taken to mean that, according to Poe, duality – or even outright contradiction – was a constant component of human nature.

To recap: Poe’s vision of human nature is closely associated with his vision of nature itself. Poe views both nature and human nature as embodying a kind of innate suffering and misery that is both removed from conceptions of morality and tied strongly to the fabric of life itself. It is impossible, by Poe’s reckoning, for any individual to rise above suffering and misery. It is similarly impossible for any individual to avoid suffering and misery because these experiences are embedded in the universe. This realization is not, however, an articulation of cynicism or negativity. In fact, just as the close of “Annabel Lee” reaffirms the ultimate supremacy of human love, the conviction that is expressed by Poe must be considered triumphant rather than maudlin.  When the speaker of the poem asserts “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side / Of my darling – my darling – my life and my bride”30 this assertion is an affirmation of enduring love despite the unavoidable reality of despair.

Poe’s insistence that despair and melancholy form a core aspect of human experience is the first step toward understanding his truly unique perspective on the question of what comprises human nature. As the previous discussion has demonstrated Poe’s understanding of human nature begins with the supposition that the human imagination occupies a special relationship to nature and to the universe at large. The human imagination is further understood to stand in sympathetic relationship to the function of rationality. The trick in understanding how this all fits together is to see that, for Poe, whether the external or internal worlds are being observed, certain unchangeable realities are present. One of these realities is that life contains as much of a capacity for tragedy as for joy and happiness. In fact, the truly interesting thing about Poe’s conception of human nature is that it is precisely the capacity to feel pain and misery that allows the corresponding capacity for exaltation.

That kind of assertion begs the question as to whether or not the constraints of human society help to facilitate or inhibit this fundamental understanding of human nature.  This is an important question in regard to Poe as a Romantic writer and thinker because it is at this point when Poe’s abstract convictions about nature and the basis of human imagination are put to an empirical test. It is all well and good for Poe to suggest that the faculties of imagination and of human rationality function as “doors” by which the nature of reality can be discerned. It is another thing to place Poe’s conceptions into a working social order. For example, by Poe’s reckoning, the imaginings of a deranged person are as much a meaningful aspect of cosmic experience as the earth-bound convictions of a perfectly sane individual. As previously mentioned, it makes little difference whether the individual begins from the perspective of “Pym” or the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart,” in the final analysis, all people no matter what their personality or disposition will confront madness, deprivation, and despair.

What does these mean in terms of human society? Is it the case that, in Poe’s conception, society exists only as a façade over an essentially “mad” reality? Or, by contrast, does the supernal beauty of solitude and communion with nature as celebrated in “Alone” and “Sonnet to Science” mean that society exists only as an oppressive agent meant to inhibit poetic ecstasy. Furthermore, according to Poe’s articulation of the nature and function of rationality, should society then be invested with a greater depth of purpose and meaning? In answering these question, we come to the heart of Poe’s aesthetic because beneath the veneer of the macabre and beatific lies an essentially straightforward theme. That them is the question of what it means to be a part of a special order and what kind of ‘social contract” is apt to correspond to the truth about human nature and the composition of society as a whole.

Needless to say, Poe’s appraisal of collective society is one where the individual is held in much higher esteem than society itself. This is evident by the way that Poe celebrates eccentricity, madness, and even anti-social behavior in his stories.  To get a feeling for the way that Poe celebrates the social rebel in his fiction, it is useful to consider one of his lesser-known works of fiction, “Hop Frog” (1849). In this story, Poe approaches an idiom that is very close to providing a moral or ethical evaluation. However, it should be pointed out that, although the character of Hop Frog is highly sympathetic, his ultimate act of revenge on the King and court indicates an antisocial agenda as well as a personal agenda of retribution. The court that is represented in the story is best thought of as a microcosm of human society, complete with embodiments of authority and political order. That Hop frog is, himself, a focus of ridicule and derision in collective society is Poe’s way of demonstrating what happens to the individual who stands too obviously outside of the social norm.

In fact, Hop Frog’s entire orientation to collective society is based in his being not accepted by the collective as a whole. He resides at the court as an object of ridicule, his only function is to regale and entertain the King and the King’s court despite the fact that it is obvious throughout the story that Hop Frog is not intelligent, agile, and resourceful, but compassionate and competent. This is a direct contrast to the foolish, incompetent, and ignorant nobles that Hop Frog is meant to serve. The irony goes beyond the simple comparison between the competent and intelligent jester and his incompetent over-lords; the irony of the story finds its truest expression in the fact that the court is utterly empty, excepting Hop Frog’s influence. The irony extends, therefore, to a more all-encompassing dimension in that Poe is suggesting that social conformity is a method for weakening, rather than strengthening, society.

This perspective is demonstrated clearly in the way that Hop Frog is looked at by the King. The King is proud to own Hop Frog because he stands outside of social convention, but this pride in owning Hop Frog merely serves to reinforce the King’s personal sense of worth. Poe describes the dynamic between Hop Frog and the King in the following passage: “His value was trebled in the eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also a dwarf and a cripple”29. The sensitive reader will, obviously, view this tendency on behalf of the king as an admission of the king’s   weakness and prejudice. Therefore, from the beginning of the story, Hop Frog is presented as the embodiment of individuality and he represents the predicament of the “other” in relationship to human society.

A further clue is given in the story that Hop Frog is meant to symbolize the social outsider. At one point during the story, it is divulged that Hop Frog’s origins are ambiguous, but certainly based in a social order other than that which is represented by the king’s court. Poe writes “I am not able to say, with precision, from what country Hop frog originally came. It as from some barbarous region, however, that no person ever heard of — a vast distant from the court of our king.” 30.  This statement shows quite clearly that Poe’s intention in writing the story “Hop Frog” was to make a statement regarding the nobility of individualism. His verdict on human society, expressed in this story, and in other of his literary works, is that society acts as a constraint on the individual and also suffers for acting as a constraint. Poe’s vision of human society is that the outsider is much more clearly able to discern what is meaningful and necessary in life where those who seek social conformity live their lives without self-reflection.

To live without self-reflection is to ignore both the inward glance which Poe associated with poetry, and the outward glance which he associated with science. This is due to the fact, previously discussed at length, that Poe unified the inner and outer worlds of perception in a way that was typical for a Romantic writer. His vision of human society must be considered ironic: in that he viewed human society as the greatest constraint against the individual and therefore against poetic vision or even an objective, rational understanding of the empirical world. The one constant that rings through almost all of Poe’s thought and theories is the idea that subjective experience is as important in coming to an understanding of reality as any kind of empirical experience. For Poe, the way in which organized society served to distract and dissuade the individual from plumbing the depths of the “soul” and the mysteries of nature, was a crime.

With that statement we have arrived in a position where we can finally conclude that Poe, despite initial appearances, does offer a moral paradigm in his literary works. While it is true that the moral paradigm is unusual; it is nevertheless, as central to Poe’s aesthetic as is the idea of unification of expression and technique. Poe’s moral statement is straightforward and consistent throughout his works. His assertion is that the greatest moral crime that is possible is the crime of social conformity. For it is the submission to the social order which presents the greatest threat to individual vision. Obviously, Poe advocates not only individualism but, to some extent, social resistance to conformity. For example, in his famous story “The Gold Bug” (1843), Captain Kidd’s treasure represents riches that were gathered and hidden by pirates who, most obviously, symbolize a stand against organized society. Additionally, Le Grand and Jupiter, as well as the narrator of the story exist in a state of social exile.

Because materiality is something that is highly valued by society, but which is almost useless to those who stand outside of society, Poe offers a wonderful irony at the close of the story when the three individuals who have entered into an exile from society are the very people who are able to locate the riches that society values. The use of cryptography in the story also indicates how Poe felt about the educational system in organized society. By showing Le Grand as a scholar in exile, he seems to be suggesting that the truest education that can be gained is through an encounter, or through repeated encounters, with nature. The orthodox forms of education serve only to indoctrinate individuals into a state of social conformity, which, in turn, weakens society through a lessening of diversity. The loss of diversity makes it impossible for society, as a whole, to emerge stronger than the individuals who comprise it.

If the suggestion that Poe regarded formal education as a waste of time seems extreme, the reader is cautioned to examine the motif of the autodidact that threads its way throughout much of Poe’s literary output. Just as the “renegade” poet is a motif in Poe’s works, so is the renegade scholar. Le Grand is an example of just such a character, as is Dupin. Poe’s poetry also makes reference to the dangers of social conformity, most notably in his poem “The City in the Sea” (1845) where almost all the conventions of society, law,, and education are included in the symbolic motif of a drowned city descending to hell. This poem, frequently read as a “mood” piece is, in actuality, a cry against the constricting nature of society,

Specific line sin the poem make this theme overt and impossible to dismiss. For example, in the opening stanza, Poe writes “Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best / Have gone to their eternal rest.” 31. Again, keeping in mind that Poe’s one constant ethical or moral conviction is that social conformity is a crime; these lines should be read as an indictment against social conformity. After-all the only thing that the disparate people of the poem have in common with one another is that they are residents of the same city, which means, of course, that they are all members of the same collective society. The city is itself portrayed as evil throughout the poem. Lines that describe the emptiness of the city and its ghostliness only serve to reinforce the notion that human society is an end in itself that sacrifices the individual for the perpetuation of social conformity.

The lines “No rays of holy heaven come down / On the long night-time of that town” 32 are meant to suggest that it is the reality of the city itself that has “offended” heaven or shut out the true light of knowledge from the people who dwell in the city. This is, of course, because Poe believed that the light of nature and the light of human imagination were pathways to Divine revelation. The only reality that Poe recognizes as standing between Divine revelation of nature and the Divine revelation of the human imagination is the constraint of collective society. Therefore, far from being a “mood” piece, “The City in the Sea” is actually a political poem, one which is meant to terrify and astound by its absolute indictment of the uselessness of  human society. Poe’s vision of the city results in one of the most famous closing images in American poetry, that of the city being swallowed by hell.

The closing image: “Down, down that town shall settle hence, / Hell, rising from a thousand thrones, / Shall do it reverence” 32 is an indictment not only of society, but of Christianity as well. The irony of the poem’s closing image is that the city existed partially as an outgrowth of religious dogma. This is shown clearly by the reference in the poem the diamond-eyes idols that decorated the city. Poe’s vision of the city as “unholy” is not meant to entice the reader into accepting a particular kind of religious dogma or perspective. Instead, it is an attempt by Poe to show that the dogma and teachings of religion and education that are facets of organized society operate as “self-fulfilling” prophecies. In this case, the worship of “idols” rather than the worship of true aspects of nature and the human soul have drawn the city and its inhabitants into hell. The sense of poetic justice that is conveyed by this image is moralistic and it indicates that the crime of the city was simply the fact of existence.

The preceding discussion of Poe’s work evidences that Poe was, in fact, a Romantic writer of the first order. His incorporation of English Romanticism, coupled with his embracing of the empirical and scientific methods of “modern” America in his literary works resulted in a form of Romanticism that was both decidedly American and decidedly mature in that Poe tried to imbue bot only aesthetics but mathematics, cosmology, philosophy, and literary theory with the basic elements of Romantic vision. These elements, to recap, are: the elevation of nature as a “code” which can be read to discover Divine inspiration and intent; the elevation of the human imagination, in its entire idiosyncratic nuance, to a level of universal perception, and the elevation of human rationality as a method by which the code of nature should be read and understood. Furthermore, Poe portrayed the influence of collective society and social education as barriers to the Romantic imagination. For Poe, Romantic literature was the literature of the human soul, but it was also the most convincing evidence of the soul’s existence, and purpose.

Poe’s ability to simultaneously embrace and reject aspects of American culture allowed him to make a unique statement on the American character identity. What comes through Poe’s literary works is a vision of the American character that celebrates individuality while also embracing what is commonly called “American pragmatism.” Poe viewed the American character as flawed, but redeemable. The method of redemption was Romantic literature and the convictions associated with Romantic thought and ideals. That is to say, for Poe, Romanticism was not merely an aesthetic theory, but an all-encompassing vision of the root nature of reality.

In conclusion, Poe’s contribution to the American character identity can best be understood as a fusing of the Romantic idealism of the English Romantics with the scientific and modernist views that Poe confronted in his own lifetime in American society. Though Poe rejected the idea that society as w hole played a beneficial role in liberating the Romantic voice and vision from the individual imagination and from nature, his literary works remain an active expression of affirmation and an enduring monument to his belief in the eternal validity of the human soul. As such, Poe’s works are an extremely important and distinctly American contribution to Romantic literature as a whole.

Notes

  1. Daniel J. Philippon, “Poe in the Ragged Mountains: Environmental History and Romantic Aesthetics,” The Southern Literary Journal 30, no. 2
  2. Thomas McFarland, Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 76.
  3. Poe, Edgar Allen. Fiction and Poetry Complete and Unabridged. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.,(2006), 47.
  4. Poe, Edgar Allen. Fiction and Poetry Complete and Unabridged. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.,(2006), 48.
  5. Poe, Edgar Allen. Fiction and Poetry Complete and Unabridged. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.,(2006), 48.
  6. Bayley, John. The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution. London: Constable, 1957.
  7. Poe, Edgar Allen. Fiction and Poetry Complete and Unabridged. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc.,(2006), 48.
  8. Ibid.
  9. John Bayley, The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution (London: Constable, 1957), 55.
  10. Robert L. Gale, Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1970), 58.
  11. John Bayley, The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution (London: Constable, 1957), 25.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Thomas McFarland, Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 53.
  15. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, (1967), 499.
  16. Ibid.
  17. John Bayley, The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution (London: Constable, 1957), 6.
  18. Poe, Edgar Allan. The Unabridged Edgar Allen Poe. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 1983, 326.
  19. Poe, Edgar Allan. The Unabridged Edgar Allen Poe. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 1983, 799.
  20. Rachel Polonsky, “The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe,” in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Kevin J. Hayes (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 43.
  21. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 77.
  22. Kent P. Ljungquist, “The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe,” in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Kevin J. Hayes (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 19.
  23. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 77.
  24. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 80.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 89.
  28. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 192.
  29. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 367.
  30. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 368.
  31. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 71.
  32. Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967, 72.

Bibliography

Bayley, John. The Romantic Survival: A Study in Poetic Evolution. London: Constable, 1957.

Gale, Robert L. Plots and Characters in the Fiction and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1970.

Hayes, Kevin J., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

McFarland, Thomas. Romanticism and the Heritage of Rousseau. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Philippon, Daniel J. “Poe in the Ragged Mountains: Environmental History and Romantic Aesthetics.” The Southern Literary Journal 30, no. 2 (1998): 1+.

Poe, Edgar Allen. Fiction and Poetry Complete and Unabridged. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2006.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Unabridged Edgar Allen Poe. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 1983.

Poe, Edgar Allan. (Ed. Galloway, David). Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.

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