April 29, 2013

Edgar Allan Poe Quick Facts

Edgar Allan Poe

A 19th Century American poet , critic, and short-story writer
  • Full Name: Edgar Allan Poe
  • Birth: January 19, 1809
  • Death: October 07, 1849
  • Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Place of Death: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Cause of death: Unknown
  • Buried at: Westminster Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
  • Father: David Poe, Jr. (1784 –1811)
  • Mother: Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe (1787 –1811)
  • Foster Father: John Allan (1779-1834)
  • Foster Mother: Frances Keeling Valentine Allan (1785–1829)
  • Siblings: One elder brother: William Henry Leonard Poe (1807–1831), and one younger sister: Rosalie Poe (1810–1874)
  • Marriage: September 22, 1835
  • Spouse: Virginia Clemm
  • Children: None       
  • Education: University of Virginia, U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Known for:  initiating the modern detective story
  • Criticised for: drug and alcohol abuse
  • Influences: was filled with tragedies that all influenced his craft.
  • Influenced: Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867), Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) and H. P. Lovecraft (1890 – 1937)


“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
 Only this, and nothing more."
Edger Allan Poe, "The Raven"

Major Themes:

  • Death
  • Insanity
  • The subconscious self
  • The double self
  • Curiosity
  • Impermanence and uncertainty
  • Obsession
  • Nature
  • The human imagination
  • Hope and despair
  • Love and hate
  • The power of human resolve

Notable Works:

Poetry Collections
  • Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827)
  • Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829)
  • Lenore (1843)
  • The Raven and Other Poems (1845)
  • Ulalume (1847)
  • Eureka: A Prose Poem (1848)
  • Annabel Lee (1849)
  • Berenice (1835)
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)
  • Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1939)
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1842)
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1842)
  • The Black Cat (1843)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart (1843)
  • The Purloined Letter (1845)
  • The Cask of Amontillado (1846)
  • The Oval Portrait (1850)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1850)

Did You Know?

  • His parents were actors.
  • Both of his parents died of tuberculosis.
  • He was born the same year as Abraham Lincoln.
  • His parents died when he was only 3 years old.
  • At the age of 26 he married his 13 year old cousin Virginia Clemm.
  • During marriage Virginia listed her age as 21 on the marriage certificate.
  • Virginia was the biggest source of Poe’s literary inspiration.
  • Poe usually wrote with cats sitting on his shoulder.
  • Many critics ascribe him as the "Father of the Detective Story".
  • Poe has been called the American Shakespeare.
  • His undoubted masterpiece The Raven is attributed to the death of his wife.
  • He was paid only 9 dollars for The Raven.
  • He attempted suicide in 1848.
  • He died at the age of 40.
  • During death his last words were "Lord, help my poor soul".
  • Poe never had financial success in his lifetime.
  • His poetry collection Tamerlane and Other Poems  was published anonymously at his own expense, but it failed to attract notice.
  • On Nov 1824, Poe wrote his first notable poem “Last night, with many cares & toils oppres'd,/ Weary, I laid me on a couch to rest."
  • On Jul 1838, Poe's first novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, was published.
  • He is buried next to his mother-in-law and his wife.
  • He joined the army under the false name Edgar A. Perry.
  • Poe was found half dead on a street; the cause of his death was unknown it was either too much alcohol, a heart attack, murder, rabies or various diseases.
  • Poe established the detective genre with his  The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841's).
  • Poe assaulted Longfellow in written by calling him a plagiarist.
  • Poe is assumed to have been named after character in William Shakespeare's King Lear, a play in which his parents performed in 1809.
  • By 1843 Poe’s financial condition worsen to such an extent that he had to stand on the street for asking money from people.
  • The Baltimore Ravens football team is named after Poe's poem The Raven.
  • John Allan, his foster father was against Poe’s ambition to become a writer.
  • John Allan was so disappointed with Poe that he excluded him from his will.
  • Majority of his works were inspired by his life.
  • Poe drank excess in numerous occasions in his life.
  • Most of the houses that he lived in are now museums.
  • As he did not receive sufficient money from John Allan to continue his study at University of Virginia, Poe resorted to gambling to cover that expense.
  • After his demise his literary opponent Rufus Griswold sought to violate Poe’s reputation by writing a false biography.
  • On Feb 28, 1829 Poe's foster mother, Frances Allan dies in Richmond.
  • On Aug 1, 1831 Poe's older brother Henry died of either tuberculosis or cholera.
  • Poe hardly used his middle name as he had a bad relationship with his foster father.
  • On January 30, 1847, Virginia Poe died of tuberculosis.
  • On November 1848, Poe proposed to a poet named Sarah Helen Whitman, who agreed on the condition that he should quit drinking. A month later Whitman cancelled the engagement as Poe failed to keep his promise.
  • On August 1849, Engaged Again with his childhood beloved Elmira Royster Shelton.
  • The death of his mother, foster mother and wife provided him inspiration him to write poems and short stories.


 “Edgar Allan Poe.”. Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 5 April 2012
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Poe>.

 “Edgar Allan Poe.” Biography. 1996–2013. A+E Television Networks, LLC. 5 April 2012
< http://www.biography.com/people/edgar-allan-poe-9443160>.

“Edgar Allan Poe Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2013.
Advameg, Inc. 5 April 2012

“5 interesting facts on Edgar Allan Poe.” Raul Gomez. 2013. Raul Gomez. 5 April 2012

“5 Things You Didn't Know About Edgar Allan Poe.” 2012. Mental Floss.
Mental Floss. 5 April 2012
< http://mentalfloss.com/article/26905/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-edgar-allan-poe>.

April 18, 2013

Samuel Taylor Coleridge happens to posses the most vigorous mind amongst the English romantics. During the 19th century he produced some of the most stirring and eloquent verse that no other poets of his generation could able to replicate. His poetry is, indeed, the supreme embodiment of all that is purest and the most ethereal in romantic spirit. One of England’s many magnificent gifts to English literature, this rather unproductive poet wrote poems that have become the priceless assets of romantic literature.

Coleridge as a Romantic Poet


Coleridge’s contribution to romantic poetry reached its apex through his treatment of the supernatural. He is a master poet of the supernatural. He attempts to draw the supernatural in a convincing way, where the reader is compelled to take it for real or natural by willingly suspending disbeliefs. This environment has been created most convincingly in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Element of Mystery

Coleridge’s poetry is noted mostly for its elements of mystery. Coleridge displays painstaking mastery in creating some characters and events that evoke a sense of curiosity or suspense because of an unknown, obscure or enigmatic quality. In his seminal work The Ancient Mariner, Coleridge creates a mysterious character by portraying him as a man of glittering eyes and long grey beard.

Vivid & Convincing Imagery

Coleridge has the most imaginative mind amongst the romantic poets. Coleridge is essentially good at portraying vivid imagery. He has the power to transport the audience in his realm of imagination by convincing the reader to accept no-existent as real. And this is the very quality which enables Coleridge to incorporate convincing/effective elements of mystery. For example, his description of Kubla Khan’s palace forces the reader to believe in its existence:


The major poems of Coleridge have a dreamlike quality. His poems were inspired by reveries. He saw them in his dreams and visualized in the poetry. For instance, Kubla Khan is a superb example of his dream poetry. In this poem he recounts in poetic form what he saw in a vision.


Coleridge had a strong devotion to the spirit of the Middle Ages. Coleridge’s love for the supernatural was engendered by romance and legends of the Middle Ages. Medievalism provides him the opportunity to create the sense of remoteness and a mysterious setting.


Coleridge’s initial attitude towards nature was pantheistic. During this stage, he treated nature as a moral teacher. Later on he changed his attitude towards nature. He believed that it depends on our mood and temperament how we would interpret nature. This mood is reflected in Dejection: An Ode:

"O Lady! We receive but what we give,
And in our life alone doth Nature live
Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud!"

Narrative Skill

Coleridge is a master story teller. This is probably the strongest part of his poetic potentials. He is aware of the fact that a successful story telling involves a griping  suspense or continuous evocation of interest. For example, in Kubla Khan Coleridge is able to retain the reader’s interest when he mentions about the romantic chasm:

"But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!"  


Coleridge always cared for the wellbeing of the humanity. His love for the humanity is revealed through his strong support for the French revolution. He supported the upheaval assuming that it would free the masses from the oppression of the dictators. But subsequently, Coleridge windrowed his support as the revolutionists deviated from their principles. Coleridge showed this dissatisfaction in his French: An Ode. His love for the humanity is seen best in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

April 12, 2013

The Revenge Tragedy is a type of play in which the tragedy is achieved through pursuit and attainment of revenge. This genre was essentially popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. The Revenge Tragedy had its root in antiquity. It stemmed from the works of the Roman dramatist Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC– 65 AD). But the genre ushered in English tragedy by the writings of Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) with The Spanish Tragedy (1589?). Although he was the chief representative of the trend of Revenge Tragedy, the genre was reshaped through the writings of other dramatists such as, William Shakespeare (1564–1616) in Titus Andronicus (c. 1594) and Hamlet (c. 1601); Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) in The Jew of Malta (c. 1592); Cyril Tourneur (1575–1626) in The Revenger's Tragedy (1607); John Marston (1576–1634) in Antonio and Mellida (1600) and Antonio’s Revenge (1601); John Webster (1580–1634) in The White Devil (1612) andThe Duchess of Malfi (1614).

The Spanish Tragedy

Major Characteristics

All Revenge Tragedies typically comprise or hinge round the following tenets:

• A secret murder is committed and the ghost of the murdered person appears before the friend or relative of the avenger asking him to take revenge.
• Revenge is considered as a sacred duty rather than a pursuit engendered by rage or personal injury.
• The characters, usually the central one, fall into either feigned or real madness.
• The avenger’s hesitation delays the revenge.
• The revenge-seeker usually seeks revenge on the verge of insanity.
• Awe arising events/environment: graveyard, torture, suicide, mutilation and gruesome bloodshed.
• Immortality: incest, adultery, rape, etc.
• Rivalry between families.
• A period of disguise, intrigue, or plotting, in which the murderer and the avenger scheme against each other.
• The major role is played by a malevolent servant, usually known as malcontent, who is a Machiavellian villain.
• The protagonist often kills innocent persons.
• A play-within-the-play as a means of exposing or killing the avenger’s target.
• The play usually ends with the success of the revenge but the revenge-seeker dies shortly after that.
• The reader feels sympathy for the avenger.
• Long soliloquies giving insight into the characters' mentality and moral uncertainty.
• The play ends with multiple of deaths.
• Usually the plays are written in five acts, which are roughly as follows:
a. Act I: a ghost appeals for revenge.
b. Act II: the avenger plots for revenge.
c. Act III: the confrontation of the avenger and the victim.
d. Act IV: the vengeance is prevented.
e. Act V: the revenge is completed.

Did You Know?

Although Thomas Kyd was the chief initiator of the Revenge Tragedy, his plays have been criticised as coarse and unrefined in their manifestation of the revenge theme.

The Revenge Tragedy wasn’t even considered a separate literary genre until the early 20th century.

Shakespeare is believed to have modelled his eminent play Hamlet after Thomas Kyd’s now extant play Ur-Hamlet.

Hamlet is considered by many critics as the apex paradigm of the Revenge Tragedy in English literature.

Almost all playwrights of the Elizabethan and the Jacobean era contributed to the development of the Revenge Tragedy.

The Elizabethan playwrights opted to follow Seneca’s Thyestes, Medea, and Agamemnon as models for their Revenge Tragedy.

In the backdrop of the revenge theme, the Elizabethan and the Jacobean playwrights tended to explore the moral, religious, political, and social maladies of the times.

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