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Edgar Allan Poe / Emily Dickinson Essay Sample

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Edgar Allan Poe / Emily Dickinson Essay Sample

Romanticism is the only literary movement exhibits a wide variety of art, literature and intellect in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This movement has been a topic of ample disagreements over its defining ideologies and aesthetics. It can best be described as a large network of sometimes competing philosophies, agendas, and points of interest. In England, Romanticism had its greatest influence from the end of the eighteenth century up through about 1870. Its primary vehicle of expression was in poetry, although novelists adopted many of the same themes. The two writers discussed in this paper will be Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe. Romanticism was an artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century. The romantic period saw an overflowing of emotions, with “lyrical ballads” maintaining that all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling. The romantic period in American literature, which included writers like Washington Irving, Emerson, Thoreau, Emily Dickson, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathanial Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and others.

Romanticism is a movement in the arts that flourished in Europe and America throughout much of the 19th century from the period of the French revolution in 1789. Romantic artists’ glorified nature, idealized the past, and celebrated the divinity of creation. There is a fundamental emphasis on freedom of self-expression, sincerity, spontaneity and originality. The movement rebelled against classicism, and artists turned to sources of inspiration for subject matter and artistic style. Their treatment of subject was emotional rather than reasonable, intuitive rather than analytical. Among other Romantics, the focus on the human being was manifested in a fascination with the eerie and exotic and with the effects of guilt, evil, isolation, and terror on the human psyche. Romanticism was seen as a revival of the essentially modern, spiritual and fantastic culture of the middle Ages. Romantics were involved in emotional directness of personal experience and individual imagination and aspiration.

The romantic period originated in Germany. Writers like words worth and Coleridge are famous romantic writers in England. In American literature, famous writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne created fiction during the romantic period in the United States. Explore the American fiction from the romantic period. When you think of a words worth and Coleridge, and of the other English romantic poets of course that’s because the romantic period originated in Germany and moved to England. But romanticism came to United States as well. It is important to note that the romantic period in America was different than the Coleridge brand. Writers like Walt Whitman were created himself as the American icon. Romanticism as a term derives from “romance” which form the medieval period (1200-1500) and on simply meant a story that was advanturistic and improbable. Romances are distinguished from novel, emphasize the mundane and realistic. The period between 1860 and 1900 for the United States is often called “ the age of realism” because of the many authors who present their novels subject matter in a realistic manner.

The romantic period refers to literary and cultural movements in England, Europe and America roughly from 1770- 1860. Romantic writers saw themselves as revolting against the age reason and its value. Romanticism was a movement in art literature in the eighteen and nineteen centuries in revolt against the neoclassicism of the previous centuries. The German poet Friedrich Schlegel, who is given credit for first using the term romantic to describe literature, defined it as “literature depicting emotional matter in an imaginative form”. This is as accurate a general definition as can be accomplished, although victor Hugo’s phrase “liberalism in literature” is also apt. Imagination, emotion and freedom are certainly the focal points of romanticism. Any list of particular characteristics of the literature of romanticism includes subjectivity and an emphasis on individualism, spontaneity, freedom from rules, solitary life rather that society, the belief that imagination is superior to reason and devotion to beauty love of and worship of nature and fascination with the past. The American scholar A.O. Lovejoy once observed that the word romantic has come to mean so many things that by itself, it means nothing at all.

The variety of its actual and possible meanings and connotations reflect the complexity and multiplicity of European romanticism. In the decline and the fall of the romantic ideal (1948) F.L. lucus counted 11,396 definitions of romanticism. In classic romantic and modern Barzun cites example of synonymous usage for romantic, which shows that it is perhaps the most remarkable examples of a term, which can mean many things according to personal and individual needs. The word romance has a complex and interesting history. In the Middle Ages romance denoted the new vernacular languages derived from Latin in contradistinction to Latin it self which was the language of learning. The Romanticism was a period in which authors left classicism, age of reason, in the old world and started to offered imagination, emotions and a new literature that toward nature, humanity and society to espouse freedom and individualism. The main characteristics or Romanticism movements are: an emphasis on imagination as a key to revealing the innermost depths of the human spirit, the celebration of the beauty and mystery of nature.

When we read Keats Coleridge and words worth, for instance we gradually become aware that many of their sentiments and responses are foreshadowed by what has been described as pre- romantic sensibility. There were two writers of this period that thrived in this period is Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson. Oftentimes authors’ personal lives are reflected in their writing; this could not be truer than the work and life of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809, the same year James Madison was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. Both of Poe’s parents were struggling actors and living from paycheck to paycheck. Poe’s father left the family when Poe was only two years old, leaving his mother to raise him, his older brother and their younger sister. Unfortunately, a few months later that the family would again be devastated, by the loss of their mother – their sole caretaker and provider. Elizabeth Poe died from tuberculosis, forcing young Edgar and his siblings to be split up and live with complete strangers. Fortunately for Poe, he was embraced and supported by a wealthy tobacco salesman named John Allan and his wife Frances Allan. They lived happily in Richmond, Virginia. Poe grew close to his warm foster mother, but never really managed to maintain a healthy relationship with his foster father. Poe was sent to school in England where he would receive a good education. He was a bright young man with a lot of promise. As a young boy, all his spare time was spent writing poetry; mostly influenced by the sadness he endured growing up and being separated from his brother and sister.

Poe started writing at age fifteen and had always dreamed of becoming a successful writer, much to the dismay of his foster father, who insisted on Poe becoming a businessman like himself. Poe was then sent to Richmond University to further his education, but was ultimately forced to leave the university when his foster father refused to continue paying for his education. Once Poe realized he could no longer continue his education at Richmond University, he returned home to his beloved fiancé only to discover she had become committed to another man. Edgar was devastated by the news that his love had left him for another man. Enraged from his loss of love and built up anger towards his foster father, Poe decided to leave once and for all. He decided it was time for him to sit down and finish a complete work of poetry, which is exactly what he did. Emily Dickinson is recognized to be one the most famous and well known poets in American history. Some may even consider her to be the most well known lyrical poet of all time. Almost unknown as a poet in her lifetime, Emily has greatly influenced and helped develop poetry and literature as we know toady.

During her lifetime, with fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems published, she became most influencial after death. Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 to her parents Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson . She was the middle of three siblings. The Dickinsons were a fairly wealthy middle class family, whom lived a comfortable life. Edwards grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, founded Amherst College, and built the homestead, a large mansion on the towns Main Street in 1813. Emily and her family resided for most of the century. In 1833, shortly after Lavinia was born, their grandparents moved to Ohio due to financial problems at the mansion. The Homestead was sold out of the family,although Emily ,her two siblings and her parents still resided there for several years longer as tennants. Growing up Emily was rather shy, but very well behaved ,although she was perfectly well & contented, her aunt noted Emily could be a little trouble at times. When Emily reached nine years old, the family purchased their own house in Amherst on Pleasant Street, which overlooked Amherst’s burial ground, described by one local minister as treeless and “forbidding. Emily,Austin and Lavinia began to grow very fond of this new house. Baking and gardening took up much of Emily’s time along with attending school daily, participating in church activities, taking walks, reading books, learning to sing, play the piano, and write letters.

The Dickinson’s formal schooling was considered exceptional and classical for a girl of the nineteenth century, although this was not unusaual for the girls of Amherst. In September 1840, Emily and her younger sister Lavinia attended school at Amherst Academy for seven years, which was once a former boy school, which reopened to female students. Emily’s father Edward believed education was very important and wanted all of his children to be well educated. Edward always made sure he followed up with their school work even while he was away on buisness. Emily often described her father as very strict , but very caring and comforting, while she described her mother as distant, ans not as warm and comforting as her father. During her time at the Academy, Dickinson took classes in English, Latin, botany, calssical literature, history, geology ,math and mental philosophy. Emily was considered to be a very bright and excellent scholar according to Daniel Taggart Fiske, the principal at the Academy. Dickinson enjoyed attending school and learning. In the early 1940’s Emily was enrolled for only eleven weeks before taking time off due to illness.

She constantly wrote to her friends telling them how much she missed being in school and how well she was doing in her classes. She enjoyed her strenuous studies and loved to learn. Growing up Emily was constantly confronted with death and other turmoil. At a young age she experienced the death of loved ones , including a young cousin of hers, which traumatized her. With such an experience, questions about death and immortality constantly arose. The location of her house , located near the cemetary made it impossible for her to escape death, she saw constant burials providing powerful images and strong emotion. After the death of her cousin, Emily became very depressed and felt that she too should did not deserve to live because she could not see her or look after her anylonger. Her parents realized how depressed and sick she was becoming and sent her to stay with family in Boston while she recovered. In Amherst in the mid 1840’s, a religious revival began to take place resulting in 46 confessions of faith among Emily’s friends.

She went on to explain how happy she was and how she found such peace in a short time period. According to Dickinson her greatest joy was communicating with God and feeling that he was listening to her and responding to her prayers, declaring she had found her savior. Although she never declared her faith formally, she continued practicing her faith at home. After her recovery, in 1847 she enrolled in Mount Holyoke Female Seminary College for one year, making that the longest time she spent away from home. She met many important people who soon became longtime friends. ( 18 years old is when she began to write.. include early influenes and beginning writing ) Emily Dickinson was not like any ordinary girl growing up in Massachusetts. Instead of playing or getting along with the other children, she felt comfortable being on her own. At a young age, she secluded herself from the outside world. When she moved away for college, she was not able to adjust to her surroundings (she felt homesick).

A year later, she came back home to her house in Amherst, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Emily lived her entire life being almost completely isolated from the general public. Although this standard of living was not normal, she did have contact with a few friends and family members. Furthermore, these friends and family had a great influential impact on her life and her writing (poetry). As stated before, she lived her entire life almost completely isolated from the outside world. However, she did live at home and her siblings were her primary and minimal contact to the outside world. She spent a great deal with her family and most likely, she would not have it any other way. Her father was Edward Dickinson, who was interested in State and National politics; he even served one term in the United States’ Congress. Her brother Austin Dickinson, attended law school and even succeeded to become an attorney. Later, he met and married a woman named Susan Gilbert (later known as Susan Gilbert Dickinson). As fate would have it, Austin moved right next door to her sister’s house. Susan and Emily became best of friends and most trusting comrades. In addition, it has been said that Dickinson sent her many poems towards Susan for critique.

The youngest of the Dickinson’s family was Lavinia Dickinson. Lavinia shared a similar lifestyle like her older sister; she lived completely isolated from society. It was she, who discovered her older sister’s stash of poems after her death; she was responsible for introducing the world about Emily Dickinson. Lavinia co-edited three volumes of Dickinson’s poetry. Emily’s siblings were not just family, but intellectual and trusting companions as well. Despite being isolated during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson was capable of making friends (friends that influenced her style of writing). Reverend Charles Wadsworth was among the few people, whom Emily considered as a friend. Reverend Charles was an important figure in Emily’s life. Although, she never mentioned about being in love with him; her writing was severely affected after his departure. There have been other incidents where other individuals influenced Emily’s style of writing. Some individuals that aided in her writing were: Otis P. Lord, Samuel Bowles, William Howland, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Otis P. Lord was a close friend of Edward Dickinson, the poet’s father. Both of these individuals shared conservative political views. Lord Otis and his wife Elizabeth were familiar guests in the Dickinson household. In 1859, Lord Otis was appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court and later served on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. It was only after the Lord’s wife Elizabeth, had passed away, that Emily and Lord Otis were getting better acquainted with each other.

Only fifteen manuscripts were able to survive between Ms. Dickinson and the Lord, most of them in draft or fragmentary form. It is not clear, but some passages seem to suggest that Dickinson and Lord contemplated marrying. The next individual with an influential impact would be Samuel Bowles. He was the owner and editor-in-chief of the Springfield Republican. During that time period, it was New England’s most influential newspaper of the day. Emily’s and Samuel’s relationship began on a good note; which started after Emily and Susan Dickinson visited the Evergreens. Samuel Bowles was one of the primary recipients of Dickinson’s poems; overall he received about forty poems from Emily. According to some scholars, they state that Dickinson’s relationship with Bowles was one of the most significant in her life, no other friendship compares to what Bowles and Dickinson had in their lifetime.

While other scholars’ state, he was simply a close friend whom she trusted and revealed her deepest troubles. Emily Dickinson’s style of writing was influenced by close relatives and companions. In addition, there are a few events that might have had an impact in her literary works. For example, Emily had lived through one of the bloodiest war in American History, the Civil War. At the time, the Civil War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation it would be. It was war between the Northern states and the Southern states; the north wanted to preserve the nation as one entity while the south wanted to separate from the sovereign states. For the famous poet, the civil war was not just a remote event in her life; it was able to interact with Emily, directly (emotionally). In her literary works, Dickinson explores the experiences of particular soldiers and widowers as well as the war’s religious and moral implications. In addition, even the politics of the conflict appears in her poems. Romanticism: Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson

Many consider Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson to be two of the greatest figures in all of American literature. Despite the vast differences in the two’s work, they share many similarities. Both authors were part of the Romantic literary movement in the United States. Romanticism set to go against the trends common during the industrial revolution and focused more on individualistic leading characters in stories and focused more on nature in poetry. This theme is strongly represented in Poe’s short stories and Dickinson’s poems respectively. The similarities shared between Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson, although minor, are yet still all as pertinent as anything else. They were both majorly affected by the loss of a loved one at a young age. Both author’s writings and lifestyles were heavily influenced by these unfortunate circumstances. In the case of Poe, he traveled all over the country trying to find a place he belonged and struggled in succeeding that goal all while became a raging alcoholic.

Dickinson on the other hand, she lost a loved one and was afraid to do so again. So to avoid this issue, she thought it would be better to become a recluse and separate herself from the real world. Consequently only a few of her poems were published during her lifetime and she remained unappreciated by the world. Edgar Allen Poe was wrote many short stories throughout his short life. In fact this is how he gained notoriety as a writer. Albeit meager, he even managed to earn a living as the author of such short stories as “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” His stories featured many aristocratic males who had usually committed such heinous with little to no motives. Usually the sanity of his characters is highly questionable. His characters display many qualities of Poe himself, for example many of them are alcoholics; Poe is notorious for being an alcoholic, which is most logically the cause of his early death. Despite his fame as a writer of short stories, he was however, an extremely talented poet as well. Unfortunately for Poe, his poems were not fully appreciated until years after his death. Comparatively to Poe, the poetry of Emily Dickinson was posthumously appreciated.

Granted, the reason behind this is quite different, the similarity is there nonetheless. Despite writing thousands of poems, during her lifetime Dickinson published only a handful of them. Because of this she remained virtually unknown to the public. Well, actually that may as well be attributed to her reclusiveness. This was because she lived her life in fear. It was not until her family and friends sent her poems to publishers that she gained the recognition she had deserved. Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson do share the distinction of being born in the New England area, and even more distinctly, being born in Massachusetts. However, Poe spent the rest of his life all around the country along with some other countries while Dickinson was born, raised, and spent an overwhelmingly large portion of her life in Amherst, Massachusetts. The areas in which they lived have affected their works of literature greatly. Poe incorporates some local legends/actual murder cases into some of his stories. Because of this he received a lot of criticism although he did transform the news of the crimes into works of literature, which is what made the stories original to and property of Poe.

Dickinson spent nearly all of her days in Amherst, being out in nature. This was a major part of her writings, which were predominantly about the scenery and setting outside around her house. Upon reading just a few of Emily Dickinson’s poems and merely one of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories or poems one is immediately aware of the vast differences in the author’s tone. Poe is most notorious member of the “Dark Romantic” literary period. Conversely, Dickinson has a much lighter mood that highlights the joys and colors of the natural life. However, there are a decent amount of her poems that manage to be a little on the grim side. Be it as it may, but the vast majority of her poems were written in a positive light.

This is most closely linked to the loss in both author’s person lives. In the case of Poe, it was the loss of many females in both his family and his friends while it is uncertain whom Dickinson had lost. It is easy to see how both Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson are both commonly regarded as greats in the eyes of both the critics and the readers. It is hard to believe that the two of them went so far into their lives without gaining worldwide critical acclaim. Despite the fact that both authors were part of the Romantic Era in American Literature, Poe is much more gloomy with his morbid tales of murder while Dickinson rhymes of nature’s beauty.

References:

Emily Dickinson: Her Childhood and Youth.” Emily Dickinson: Her Childhood and Youth (1830-1855) | Emily Dickinson Museum. Trustees of Amherst College, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Sewall, Richard B. The Life of Emilie Dickinson. N.p.: Harvard UP Paperback, 1994. Print

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