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What Caused Edgar Allan Poe To Enter A Dark Depression?: History And Analysis

Edgar Allan Poe, the famous writer of his time, mysteriously died on October 7, 1849, over 170 years no scholar could unfold. The man’s mysterious death could involve a dozen possibilities, from rabies to syphilis. Some even say that Poe was victimized by voter fraud called a cooping scheme. And some others have suggested death by suicide. Moreover, before his demise, his last words were, “Lord, help my poor soul.”

Poe’s personal life was complex, nearly sufficient for one to develop the risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. Poe often felt compellingly hopeless being a man and developed a habit of alcohol and substance abuse which became a reason for his losing his loved ones. Charles Baudelaire, a French poet, Poe’s peer ad also translated some of his works, said, “the incident was almost a suicide, a suicide prepared for a long time.” 

what caused poe to enter a dark depression

A famous author was having such gruesome and dark falls under a bad tag. However, the whole hypothesis on the suicide of psychologically disturbed Poe taking his own life is a very dramatic theory. Poe even had failed suicide attempts. A year before his demise, he once tried to overdose on laudanum. But the reason for his theory is yet hypothetical as no autopsy or any medical record data s available. Yet, without medical records, his life and death are being examined from a perspective. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s Life History

The famous author Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. While in his early 40’s suffered from depression and died. But the reason for his death and his last words is a mystery to the world. 

Poe was the second child of three siblings abandoned by their father. A year after their father left, their mother died and left them orphans. The family’s older brother went to live with their grandparents while Poe and his younger sister were given up for adoption. Both of the kids were adopted by caring families. Poe took the last name of his foster parents, Allan, even if he was not legally adopted. 

what caused poe to enter a dark depression

Poe has already survived a traumatic experience in his past life. His stepfather was abusive and violent even if his stepmother was loving and caring. Poe’s stepmother, however, protected him from his stepfather from attacking him. Among the letters from the writer’s childhood, it was seen that Poe’s stepmother, Frances, was going through depression.

Death haunted Poe throughout his life. At 14, he wrote a poem, ‘To Helen‘, to his first crush, the mother of one of her schoolmates. He dedicated the poem to her after she died. Poe was a silent boy during his teenage and had difficulty connecting with the outside world. Later in 1835, he married his 13-year-old cousin Virgina Clemn. But after eight years of marriage, Virgina suffered from tuberculosis and died in 1947. 

what caused poe to enter a dark depression

The continuous horrible incidents in Poe’s life made him hopeless, and he started drinking and using laudanum to manage his pain. By this time, he had fallen into a deep depression, which he could not bear. A year later, he tried to commit suicide by overdosing on laudanum but failed. After that, he returned to Baltimore and came into a relationship with an old girlfriend. It was a happy interval for him from all horrors he went through, and they saved a date for their marriage on October 17, 1949.

Being happy was just a dream for Poe while he was already living the nightmare of depression and life horrors. Despite being engaged, he disappeared until October 3, when he was found in a very poor condition named delirious. After four days, he suffered his demise. It was unfortunate that the world recognized him after his death. 

Poe’s Depression And Analysis

Poe’s life was filled with depression, yet his death is a tale. He never received any psychological help as, at that time, there was no possible facility or cure for depression. In his poem, he mentioned a raven based on a talking bird by Dickens. But the bird’s black feathers, tormenting, and painful flapping described more of Poe’s depressing life. His poems’ The Tell-Tale Heart‘ and ‘The Black Cat‘ are about how guilt mistreats and drives mad. 

Edgar Allan Poe died in poverty as he could not publish his writings to the world. He filled literature with horror as he suffered from dark depression, which was reflected in his writings. The last months before his death were gruesome. In July 1849, he wrote a letter to his mother-in-law mentioning his poor state of health, which scored high on the depression index.

edgar allan poe

After studying Poe’s mental state, it was concluded that the link between language, depression, and suicidal behavior runs in a circle. The study found that depressed use a different language than non-depressed ones. In a way, depressed people use more negative language, including social withdrawal, like more self-referential words (‘me’) and rarer collective pronouns (‘we’). They also use cognitive processing words such as ‘think,’ ‘understand,‘ and ‘suppose.’ And this pattern of words increases so much when they get close to committing suicide

A research team was set up to prove the facts and created a depression language index. They used it to evaluate if Poe’s language showed any signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. They went through over 400 poems, stories, and personal letters and found periods of his life when he had prolonged periods of major depression. Poe’s 20 writings scored an abnormal increase on the depression index and most of which were written in the period between 1843, 1845, and 1849, before the year of his death. 

what caused poe to enter a dark depression

Red Spots mark the period of major depression.

Poe’s personal letters showed more signs of depression than professional writings, likely where most people show genuine selves. Yet ‘The Light House, a work in progress at his death, is an exception as it scored high on the depression index. The events from the most depressing years of his life were looked deeper. Surprisingly, the most successful years of his life were 1843 and 1845, when he gained overnight fame for his works, ‘The Gold-Bug((1843)’ and ‘The Raven(1845)’. The link between his state of mind and fame was complex, as he earned nothing from his work and died in poverty. Moreover, Poe’s fame and poverty betray his expectations

Conclusion Thoughts

Nowadays, we have tools and methods to evaluate someone’s psychology from the actions or words they practice daily. But, in those days, there were not many resources. So, the death of Poe and his depression will always remain a mystery. 

However, it was suggested that Poe’s depression had played some role in his decision-making and judgment, resulting in his death. A greater complex picture can be drawn from the results of Poe’s professional writings, and that suicide is often caused by a series of ungrateful things happening to a person.

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