Poe's Stories

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Poe's Stories Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Edgar Allan Poe's Poe's Stories. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Poe was orphaned at a young age and fostered by the Allans, and grew up with them in Virginia. After dropping out of university and the army, he became one of the first writers of the time to make a living from publishing his work, but he had much financial and mental difficulty throughout his life. His death in 1849 was a much debated tragedy – alcohol, suicide, tuberculosis and many other things have been attributed as causes.
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Historical Context of Poe's Stories
Many autobiographical details can be inferred from Poe’s work. Narrators that suffer from loneliness, temper and disease are particularly pertinent to his own life. Historical events such as the slavery and poverty of 19th century America also affected the reception of the stories and Poe’s insight.
Other Books Related to Poe's Stories
Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray takes much of its suspenseful plot, opium-induced reveries and doppelganger antagonist from Poe. William Wordsworth, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and even William Blake are part of the Gothic and Romantic legacy that Poe had a hand in inspiring and the wild weather and violent deeds of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, for example, are strongly reminiscent of Poe’s settings.
Key Facts about Poe's Stories
  • Where Written: Several cities in the United States, including New York and Baltimore
  • When Published: “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1833); “Ligeia” (1838); “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839); “William Wilson” (1839); “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841); “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843); “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1843); “The Black Cat” (1843); “The Purloined Letter” (1844); “The Masque of the Red Death” (1845); “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846)
  • Literary Period: Poe is considered an influence in several literary movements and eras, including the Romantic, Gothic and the 19th century, Victorian periods
Extra Credit for Poe's Stories

Unfinished Business. An unfinished manuscript of Poe’s was found after his death amongst his papers, and writer Joyce Carol Oates was inspired to finish it off. She turned Poe’s potential page-turner into a new story called The Fabled Light-House at Vina del Mar.

Poe’s Pets. Though many of Poe’s stories are influences by real events and characters, his violence towards cats in The Black Cat couldn’t be further from the truth. Poe was a cat-lover, and his own cat was named Catterina!