Death Within Edgar Allan Poe’s Works

Table of Contents


Death has always been the notion of great interest. Different scientists have been studied its nature, but the question of death is not solved yet. Literature is also the field of science which tries to develop and solve the notion of death through the literary works of different authors. The topic of literature has been discussed many times in different times and a lot of authors devoted their works to the problem of death. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the authors who also turned to the notion of death in his works. To the point, most of Poe’s works are devoted to death and disappointment, excluding the detective stories his other works are grave and dark. The most emotively the notion of death is expressed in Poe’s poems, such as “The Raven”, “Lenore”, and “Annabel Lee”.

The poets’ thoughts and experience of life are usually expressed by him/her in his works. Reading “The Raven”, “Lenore”, and “Annabel Lee” it is possible to conclude that his thoughts were about death, about different gloomy things which were the symbols of his inner anxiety and disappointment. To provide the psychoanalysis of the poems of Poe, it is crucial to make up the summary of the poems and to identify their main aims and themes, to insert the description of the poems and the quotes in order to support the ideas.

Poems Summaries

“Lenore” is one of the poems of Edgar Poe, where the main theme is death. The main hero of the poem is Lenore, who could not tell a word or move as the poem begins with her death
Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever! (Poe, p. 116).
Lenore was loved by the narrator but they were not married yet as she “should have been thy bride” (Poe 117). It is sure that Lenore deserves Paradise as
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven –
From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heave (Poe, p. 117).
To underline the main idea, which Poe wanted to show, he used repetitions in the poem, such as “died so young” (Poe 117). The phrase makes to think about life and in particular about life’s fleetingness.

” The Raven” is the other poem where death is the main theme. The whole poem is penetrated with the fear, terror and dark, purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before (Poe, p. 70).

The dark and terrifying pictures are present in the whole poem, reading every line it is as if death is standing behind you and shows its wing. “The Raven’ is like the symbol of death, which nocks in the narrator’s door and comes in as the raven. The repetition of the word “nevermore” in the poem is like the to make himself believe in his intention by convincing the others (Hurley para 1).

“Annabel Lee” is the poem which main these is sorrow, but this sorrow is connected with the death of his child-wife,
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me (Poe, p. 89).

The unknown power took Annabel Lee from him, this power was death as the further description in the poem definitely shows this and that it was angels who envied Annabel Lee and
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee (Poe, p.  90).

It remains a secret who is that unknown loved girl of Edgar Poe who he introduced in the poems “Lenore” and “The Raven”. The scholarly researches show that it could not be his wife as she was alive during the time when the poems were written, and among the nearest friends there was no girl who could be introduced according to the description in the poems (Poe and Barger 648). Some scholars make assumptions that the woman in “The Raven” is his mother, who had died when Poe was three years old (Hayes, p. 194).

Psychological analysis

Providing the psychological analysis of Poe’s works, it must be mentioned that the work of any author is the reflection of his/her thoughts, ideas, anxiety, or other feelings as literature is the best way to express what the soul wants to tell. The darkness and horror of Edgar Poe’s works take place in his works as the personal life of Edgar Poe was not so colorful and happy as it may appear to be. Edgar Poe had to suffer a lot of losses during his life, such as the death of Jane Stith Stanard, his surrogate mother, and Frances Allan, his foster mother who died in 5 years. The death of Henry, Poe’s brother was one more shock that remained in the writer’s consciousness for many years. The personal life of the writer has not been bright as he had to some long relations but they did not finish by wedding as the couple had to part (Hayes 194).

It is not surprising that all mentioned above factors made Edgar Allan Poe the writer of death and darkness, the writer who introduces death in most of his poems and stories. Life made Poe a person who could think that death is a simple and natural event that could happen every day. Seeing the death by himself he knew how was it to lose the native person, the pain was so close and understandable for him that it did not make him hard to write about it, moreover, this theme was the main that fulfilled his heart and it may be supposed that writing the stories, the poet released that pain from his heart which prevents him to live a normal life and to enjoy the next day.

Reading the gloomy and depressive poems by Edgar Poe, the feeling of death lives in the air behind you. The most depressive and fatal lines of such his poems are, “Lenore” “A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young” (Poe 116), and “That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young” (117), “The Raven” “Darkness there, and nothing more” (Poe 70). The last six lines of the poet’s verse “The Raven” are the most depressive and there is thought that comes to mind that there is only death and nothing more

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore! (Poe, p. 75).

The poem “Annabel Lee” is about death but the main theme is sorrow, so there are no horrifying pictures these are just a great regret about a girl who is killed. The very story is the recollections of Poe or a work of his ill imagination, as the very first lines tell us the
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea (Poe, p. 89).

Reading this poem it is impossible to understand whether it is the real recollections of the author, the imagination, or the work of his ill fantasy what it may be like the death of so many native and love people may turn everybody mad. It is in no way my definition that the author was mad, but some lines and ideas in the poem push to some conclusions.

Poe uses a lot of words connected with the devil and angels, but at the same time, his consciousness prompts (to my mind) him that the devil image in all works is not so good to use. Poe understands that it is impossible to write that everything is bad and that death is a terrible thing. To avoid this evilness in death, the poet “sends” all his dead heroes and heroines come to heaven, in most cases the angels take them from the earth, such as in the poem “Lenore”

From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven –
From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven (Poe, p. 118)
and in the “Annabel Lee”
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee (Poe, p. 90)
meaning that the wind with angels took her to the sky.

The angels in the poems by Edgar Poe are like the white spots of the paint on the black wall, as the number of angels is not so numerous in the comparison with the evil and dark images. It may be concluded that the soul of Poe was not so hard-hearted and that his soul, even after such long and severe examination still can think about good things, this means that the person still remains kind and tender even after so many sad and sometimes terrible life situations. The poet’s imagination tries to show him that everything is not so bad as he may think by giving him ideas about angels (Asselineau).

The interconnection of the characters in the two poems shows that the wound had not been healed yet. Lenore is the center of the conversation. Poe devoted her one poem and remembers her in “The Raven”. This means that the poet’s memory is not ready to forget about such a strong and shocking event like the death of a loved person. It is impossible to forget such an event in general, but the pain, which the author had to feel, was so huge and uncontrolled that he could not avoid remembering her one more time and giving her the promise never forget, the promise to remember her till his end and to carry his love to her through the whole life (Hutchisson, p. 168).


In conclusion, considering the psychological condition of Edgar Allan Poe it is impossible to reject that his emotional condition was generated by the life events which occurred in his life and all the emotional sufferings and the death pictures which appeared in his mind arouse in him when he was creating his poems. The exclusive feature is that the writer still hoped for good as even dead the heroes of his poems were taken to the heavens and the angels are the symbols of that hope.

Works Cited

  1. Asselineau, Roger. Edgar Allan Poe. U of Minnesota Press, 2009.
  2. and Poems. Bottletree Books LLC, 2008.
  3. Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  4. Hurley, Amanda Kolson. “Quoth the Parrot, Nevermore?.” The Washington Times.  2004.
  5. Hutchisson, James M. Poe. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2005.
  6. Poe, Edgar Allan and Andrew Barger. Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories Poe, Edgar Allan. The Works of Edgar Allan Poe. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008.

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