Was Edgar Allan Poe crazy or just misunderstood?

Poes mind. Some describe Edgar Allan Poe as crazy. Others believe he was just suffering through trauma that made his writing the way it is.

Created by Charlie Kephart

Poe’s mind. Some describe Edgar Allan Poe as crazy. Others believe he was just suffering through trauma that made his writing the way it is.

Some believe Edgar Allan Poe was a crazy man because of the dark, disturbing nature of his stories. Some believe he went through immense trauma and that changed his mindset. Poe was a brilliant writer and just misunderstood by society.

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic. He is best known for his short stories like “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. In literature, he is regarded as a gifted romanticism writer. Even though romantic stories are usually seen as sweet and sometimes even dream-like, Poe’s stories were anything but that. 

Throughout Poe’s life he suffered through many distressing events. According to National Library of Medicine, he suffered from many mental illnesses including bipolar disorder. The medical definition of bipolar disorder is a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. No two people have the same experience of this disease. Along with this disease, Poe had depression and this led to him abusing alcohol and drugs. The abuse eventually led to his death in 1849. 

As if all the neurological problems he had weren’t enough, Poe had many other events strike him throughout his life. One of the more traumatizing ones was the death of his wife, Virginia Clemm. Now even though Virginia was his cousin and was only 13 when they married, Poe was still very much in love with her. 11 years after they got married, she died from tuberculosis. Poe was hit hard with her death and to let his feelings out he wrote a poem called “Annabel Lee”, in which the narrator loves his wife very much and is traumatized when he loses her. 

Poe’s life had a rough start as well. He was born into poverty and eventually orphaned. Poe’s father abandoned the family soon after he was born and his mother died shortly after. Taking all of the terrible events in his life into consideration, couldn’t it just be that he felt neglected and unloved and in return his writing style just became creepy? Poe’s style of writing was inspired by the environment around him. 

Poe Stories describes “The Cask of Amontillado” simply as a story of revenge. Judging by everything that has happened to Poe, he has the right to get revenge on some people. Poe’s real life problems reflect onto his writing. 

Another example of his trauma reflecting onto his stories is in “The Masque of Red Death ” in which a country is haunted by a plague called Red Death. Red Death’s symptoms can be compared to tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is what killed his wife, Virginia. The disease also killed his mother when he was young. These two women were very important to Poe and basing his characters off of them is what he did to let go of his feelings. The theme of a young woman dying in an odd way comes up a lot in Poe’s work. In “The Raven”, the narrator lost the love of his life, Lenore, and throughout the story is slowly driven to craziness because of his longing for her. 

The alcohol addiction he faced was another problem demonstrated in his writing. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” one of the characters is so drunk he isn’t aware of his surroundings and the victim ends up dying. In “The Black Cat,” the narrator attacks a cat while he is dangerously drunk. The only difference between these two stories is that the narrator is the murder in “The Black Cat” and in “The Cask of Amontillado” the narrator is not the murder. Alcoholism leading to death is a recurring theme in the stories. Much like Poe, the narrator of “The Black Cat” spirals into depression and uses alcohol to cope. According to WebMd, alcoholism affects about one-third of people with depression. The chances of Poe being one of the affected is decently high. 

Poe’s sad life led to his writing being dark and disturbing. That could seem crazy to some people but in my opinion, he was just misunderstood. If I was him and I lost my spouse, mother, father, had addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling, I might feel a little messed up too. If Poe was crazy, I feel like he would have done something a little more violent to let out his feelings. He just wrote poems and short stories with creepy tones in them. That’s not hurting anyone. In my opinion, his writing is very unique and enjoyable to read. Seeing the way his life events affected his writing draws some people into his work. 

People may think Poe is crazy because of the nature of his stories but if he truly was crazy, I feel like he would have made the events of his stories happen in real life. For example, in “The Black Cat”, there is a drunken murder. Wouldn’t Poe have murdered someone in real life after a night of drinking if he truly was crazy? Writing down his feelings and publishing them for other people to read doesn’t hurt anything and in my opinion, doesn’t make him crazy. 

In his writing, it is apparent that his life events triggered his writing. In almost all of his stories, he bases his theme of the stories on something he has experienced in real life. He uses his writing as an outlet to release his feelings. 

Poe may not have been the most happy person or writer and he may have written some of the creepiest, weirdest stories we all have read in our high school English class, but he was simply misunderstood, not crazy. If he were crazy he would have been someone very different, probably a criminal arrested for murder or something. Without his trauma, the stories would have never been written the way they were. His cruel life created one of the best writers of all time.