why are deaths of beautiful women prevalent in Poe's works?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread


-- Anonymous, November 13, 2000


You see beautiful Women dying because first of all Poe put women on a pedestal and honored them, second of all , all the women he loved or was close to died. For example: His mother, foster mother, and wife all died of tuberculosis. His first love died from brain cancer.

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2000

he was a flaming faggot!he hated woman because they got more attention from the male species than he did.

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2000

From what my professor has told me, Poe looked down on women and wrote them as weak people. My prof. also has touched on some points that poe may have been homosexual. Getting this from some of the poems he had written to another male.

-- Anonymous, November 15, 2000

The essence of Poe's poems is melancholy, and he felt the best way to express this was throught the death of a beautiful woman.

-- Anonymous, December 10, 2000

I noticed a few responses that questioned Poe's sexual preference. I studied Poe in Grad School (focus on Romanticism, among a couple of other areas) and I have seen absolutely no criticism, letters, or anything to support that he was homosexual. The original question was why the deaths of women are so prevalent.... An understanding of his biographical info might help. Poe's mother died of consumption (TB) in 1811, when Poe was three or four years old. He was taken in (but never officially adopted) by the Allans. In 1823, he met Mrs. Jane Stilt Stannard, another mother figure to him, who died of consumption one year later. In 1827, Poe's unofficial adopted mother (Mrs. Allan) died of consumption. In 1836, Poe married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who also died of consumption (in 1847). Poe uses the same descriptions for most of the women in his works--pale skin, marble-like hands, lofty foreheads, etc. Some critics believe that this is Poe's way of idealizing the mother figure. In addition (or maybe, 'on the other hand'), some critics believe that this is merely a narcissistic projection of Poe's own image onto his female characters. (Narcissus is the Greek mythological man who was cursed by one of the goodesses--a scorned goodess. This goodess was jealous that Narcissus would love someone other than herself, so she cursed him to love his own image more than the other woman. He sat near a pond and gazed at his reflection, pining away until he died; the narcissus flower then bloomed in that spot.) Anyway, many critics believe that Poe was a narcissist and that he projected his "ideal" of what the perfect woman was (the mother figure image) onto his characters. Interestingly enough, Freud claims that if over- or under-mothering occurs, then two things can happen: (1) he will idealize the mother and see her "image" revivified (brought back to life) in others or (2) he will lash out at others because they are not like his mother. Poe tends to follow the former rather than the latter in almost all of his works. However, both can be found in "Ligeia," with Ligeia exemplifying the idealized "image" of the mother and Rowena exemplifying the hated other--the non-mother "image." He attempts to "revivify" the image of Ligeia (i.e., the idealized mother figure) in the body of Rowena as he tries killing Rowena to pave the way for Ligeia's return/recreation/revivification. Hope that helps.

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ