Contextualization (E.A.P) Copy

EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)



  • Struggle for independence is over  ̶  American War of Independence (1775-1783);
  • The USA is threatened by the rivalry between the North and the South;
  • Civil War (1861-1865) was caused by the issue of slavery; the North was more industrialised and educated, while the South practiced slavery and had an agricultural economy. The Civil War ended with the abolition of slavery.


  • Massive immigration from Europe and China;
  • The North undergoes an Industrial Revolution based on iron and steel production;
  • The South exported cotton and relied on slave labour;
  • A transport network was developed to stimulate trade. Roads, railways, and steamboats were built;
  • Technological inventions: mass production of motorcars (Henry Ford); the invention of the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell -1876);
  • After the Civil War immigration increased and business boomed;
  • By the end of the 19th century, the USA had become a huge, modern, industrialised nation;
  • The segregation after the Civil War transformed the Black population from slaves to second-hand citizens (no education, no right to vote, illiterate).


  • American Renaissance – the first decades of the 19th century marked the emergence of truly American literature.
  • Literature was still derived from British literary tradition, but began to depict American society and explore the American landscape.
                        American Romanticism  
The individual valued over the group;
The subjective valued over the objective;
The personal experience valued over reason;
The wilderness of nature valued over human-made order;
Support for human rights;
Elements of the supernatural;
Reaction against the negative effects of industrialization (commercialism, hectic pace, lack of conscience);
Importance of nature and man’s relationship with it;
The human psyche is observed in different manifestations.  
 Transcendentalism A sub-genre of Romanticism that developed from Romantic principles but integrated neo-classical views.  Dark Romanticism
A sub-genre of Romanticism that developed as a reaction against the light feeling of transcendentalist writing and emphasized the dark and the macabre.
Transcendent feeling (the reader is transported away from the world).
believed that humans, nature, and God are interconnected;
had a close relationship with nature;
celebrated imagination and emotions;encouraged spiritual well-being over financial well-being.
Nature is divine and a universal organic mediator;
Humans possess divinity and wisdom.  
Literary themes:
Fear of death
Paranoia from guilt/remorse
Use of Gothic elements: Grotesque characters;
Violent events.
The bizarre imagination is the place where the fantastic, the demonic, and the insane meet.
Nature is dark and eerie;
Human is prone to sin and self-destruction.


  • Born in Boston;
  • Orphaned at a young age, was raised by a middle-class family;
  • Attended the University of Virginia and West Point, but never finished his studies.
  • One of the first American writers who tried to live by writing alone;
  • Had many financial difficulties and setbacks because of the writing and publishing industry.

Short stories:

  • “The Black Cat”“The Gold-Bug”“The Masque of the Red Death”“The Murders in Rue Morgue”“The Fall of the House of Usher”“The Tell-Tale Heart”


  • “Annabel Lee”
  • “Eulalie”
  • “Tamerlane”
  • “The Raven”

Literary criticism:

  • “The Philosophy of Composition” (1846) – Essay
  • “The Poetic Principle” (1848) – Essay