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In A Brown Study, 16 C

September 23, 2016

A man has half a life without a wife? Well, he won’t have any legitimate children, for there are only two genders, but many sexes (I’m aware of LGBT, ok?). Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe had wives, but their love stories were a world apart. We learned about Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Nathaniel’s “Dove” In A Brown Study #9.

Sophia never stopped adoring her husband, focusing on his many admirable traits. Hawthorne was self-centered, or so it seems to me, and took his “Dove” for granted, leaving all the domestic duties and the complete raising of their three children to her. She complied, seeming contented with their domestic harmony, even when their financial future seemed uncertain. She had complete faith in his talent, and after his death edited and rewrote her husband’s journals, becoming what her husband scorned, a female writer.

Edgar Allan Poe fell in love, but perhaps his experiences with loneliness and death had anesthetized his heart. His mother’s untimely illness and death  and the separation from  his brother and sister impacted his life. His foster mother, Fanny Allan, was sickly and accident prone, although she tried to provide an affectionate home for Edgar, and he was fond of her.

At age 14 he became infatuated with the 30 year old mother of a schoolmate. Indeed, he “loved her with all the affectionate devotion of a son.” Jane Stanard, melancholy and ill, died insane at the age of 31, and Edgar was miserable.

Two years later he met 15 year old Elmira Shelton, a neighbor, and his first romantic attachment. She may have considered herself engaged to him. Poe wrote her letters while attending university, but her father intercepted hem. A year later she married someone else, and he had dropped out of the University of Virginia.

When Edgar was 20, after a lingering illness his foster mother died . He had not seen her for two years and probably felt some guilt. Poe’s foster father was a strict and demanding substitute parent, but he consented to his son leaving the army and paid to end his enlistment. He then paid for the application to West Point, where Edgar wrote poetry and got into trouble. John Allan remarried, refused to settle Edgar’s debts, and Edgar was dismissed from West Point.

Poe went to live in Baltimore with his grandmother, who was being cared for by her daughter, Maria Clemm and Maria’s two young children. There he found the home he never had. Upon the death of his grandmother and the loss of her small pension, Poe became editor of a magazine in Richmond. A cousin invited the struggling Maria and her daughter to live with him. Poe, a victim of melancholy, returned to Baltimore. He had fallen in love with his Aunt Maria’s daughter, his 13 year old cousin, Virginia Clemm.

– to be contd



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