Early America was abundant in influential, prudent individuals that shaped the period and foundation of modern American culture and society. Both in crisis and prosperity, the Northern part of the continent produced people with creative minds that cared for the nation. The fruits of their works made the independence of the US possible. Not only state sovereignty was guaranteed, but the originality of literature was established by brilliant writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, whose life from 1840 to 1850 is discussed further.
Edgar Allan Poe is a significant figure in the literature of the United States for several reasons. First of all, he laid the foundations for the specific genres, horror and detective, that were not developed during his lifetime. Next, he introduced the theoretical patterns for writing short stories. Additionally, Poe elevated the state of American publications, making them equivalent to European works (Poetry Foundation, n.d.). Thus, Edgar Allan Poe is one of the first influential American authors who perceived literary craft as art and science.
One of the most important events in the author’s life is the illness and death of his wife. Virginia become deceased with tuberculosis in 1842, after what Poe started drinking excessively (Virginia Clemm Poe, n.d., para. 2). The situation worsened when she died; consequently, the writer struggled with a drinking problem during his life and could not keep his jobs for long. Therefore, the alcohol issue caused by the death of Virginia influenced the financial condition of Poe and his interrelationships with the literary industry.
Next, the series of unsuccessful employment and conflicts with publishers rendered the poet’s life. Poe worked for the Broadway Journal in 1840s, which allowed him to advance his literary critique skills and publish his works (Poetry Foundation, n.d., para. 3). On the other hand, the job was low-pay, and the staff comprised people with different perspectives than the author. In brief, this experience of Poe is noteworthy as it shows the industry’s issues of the time.
Another significant episode from Edgar Allan Poe’s life is the publication of his most popular poem, “The Raven”. Published in the middle of 1840s, it did not prevent the author from financial struggle, the work had gained a national appreciation as well as foreign respect (Young, 2020). Namely, the dark atmosphere of the poem proved the relevance of American literature as distinct and ingenious. Hence, the period of Poe’s creative productivity shifted the industry towards more elaborate writing and marked the emergence of national identity in Early America.
The period of Poe’s life in the 1840s could not be examined without mentioning the post crises state of the American republic. Successively, the panic of 1819 and 1837 devastated the country’s economy, resulting in high rates of population unemployment, starvation, and chaos (Campbell, 2021a; Campbell, 2021b). The economic disasters produced an effect on various spheres; indeed, the literature industry was impacted, too. The episode with Poe’s job in Broadway Journal demonstrates the financial inability of the publishers to guarantee profit to the editors. The little income from such an impressive work as “The Raven” proves the point said above. Moreover, the state’s economy could not yet afford to develop medicine to cure diseases like tuberculosis, which is evident from the death of Poe’s wife. Thereby, the short period of the author’s life illustrates the severe impact of preceding crises on the well-being of the people and the underdevelopment of the working industries.
Considering the previously stated historical background, it is apparent that the central theme of this period of Poe’s life and art is darkness and sorrow. Inability to earn enough money for stable living, to help the loved one overcome illness, to benefit from writing ingeniously: the entirety of these misfortunes defined Poe’s story. Hence, the miserable existing issue unites the episodes endured by Poe in the 1840s.
To conclude, the unsuccessful carrier, loss of a wife, and inadequacy of Poe’s work recognition depict a grim image of Early America. The struggle of the author proves the difficulty of life after the economic disbalances. His writings portray the historical period he endured in an emotional, highly subjective way. Yet, Poe was innovative and genius, building the national identity of American literature.
Campbell, S. (2021a). The Panic of 1819: America’s first Great Depression. The Economic Historian. Web.
Campbell, S. (2021b). Panic of 1837. The Economic Historian. Web.
Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Edgar Allan Poe. Web.
Virginia Clemm Poe. (n.d.). National Park Service. Web.
Young, G. (2020). “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe was published 175 years ago today. The Bowery Boys: New York City History. Web.