Big Heads and Short Tempers: Edgar Allan Poe in Context Essay

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Edgar Allan Poe was the epitome of a tormented genius. He possessed uncontrollable and self-inflicted internal problems. In addition, Poe was plagued by external difficulties—some preventable, some not. Most doctors today would pronounce Poe to be bipolar, chronically depressed, and perhaps even OCD. Most people today, and any day, would declare Poe to be self-obsessed and arrogant, or—at the least—snobbish. His personal life would also be considered less than ideal, though how much he was personally responsible for is still unknown (Hutchisson 19). Art, however, often springs from controversy and instability. In fact, Jacqueline Langwith, editor of Perspective on Disease & Disorders: Mood Disorders, notes that “creativity appears to be …show more content…
However, the most revealing aspect of Poe's psychology comes not from the themes, but from the function words. Function words include pronouns, articles, and conjunctions. Professor Pennebaker of Texas University at Austin found that “Depressed people use the word “I” much more often than emotionally stable people” (Pennebaker). Interestingly, many of Poe's best known works were written in first-person, including “The Cask of Amontillado.” First-person pronouns permeate every paragraph. Every sentence, emotion, and perspective come from the view of the narrator. Fortunato is often referred to as “my friend” rather than by his name. After Fortunato is confined in the catacombs and begins to shout at Montressor, Poe writes “I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of him who clamored. I re-echoed—I aided—I surpassed them in volume and strength. I did this, and the clamorer grew still.” In less than three lines, Poe uses the word “I” six times. Instead of simply saying “I re-echoed, aided, and surpassed them in volume,” he begins every action with the focus on nothing besides himself. However, Poe's use frequent use of first-person helps make his stories unique. Poe's depression influenced his tone in writing “The Cask of Amontillado.” Poe's prideful nature also played into“The Cask of Amontillado.” Interestingly, his pride played itself out in both helpful and hurtful ways. On the one hand, “Poe was nothing if not

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