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Edgar Allan Poe and the politics of perception
Miller, Leanne R.
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Many Edgar Allan Poe biographers reference his stories in terms of when they were published and their success; however, they have not drawn a connection between how his life and his work parallel each other. Some critics do refer to Poe’s life when analyzing his stories, but they only select a narrow time-period in his life to support their theories. While studying Poe’s biographies and reading his works, I realized a distinct pattern: Poe’s life and work engage similar manipulative devices to control how the public perceives him; he wants them to view him as intellectually superior. Throughout his career, Poe utilized a variety of methods to manipulate the public’s perception of him, as well as to receive personal or financial gain. These methods include: the use of daguerreotypes, pseudonyms, cryptograms, and falsified documents. Poe’s tales also employ manipulative devices. In his female protagonist stories, such as “Berenice,” “Morella,” and “Ligeia,” Poe attributes brilliant minds to female characters and then kills them, as if to emphasize the superior position of the narrator. He also uses such manipulative devices as the doppelganger as in “William Wilson,” and doubling, in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which display his ingenuity. With each of these manipulations, Poe emerges as a man driven by his own neurotic insecurities – insecurities that served him well and lay at the heart of his “genius.” By understanding these insecurities and the person behind the literary figure, we will gain a new perspective of his works as well as open up new opportunities for further study
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English