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Behind the women in Poes life and those he created in his stories glows always Elizabeth Poes his mother pale beauty idealized and the terrible sickness which infused it became the thrilling and dangerous but romantic and essential compassion of love --Wolf Mankowitz Edgar Allan Poe has shocked and intrigued his audience since his days at the University of Virginia He defined the American horror story with his tales of revenge murder and spirits who return to the mortal world Despite the unpredictability of Poes works how with every page a new horror arises there is a predictable and prevailing theme in many of his short stories and poems -the dependence of male a character on a woman and the eventual illness and death of that woman This theme is so strong in all of Poes works that we must assume that it has some close connection to his own story and his history of relationships with women Imagine a woman in the early 19th century She has dark curly hair huge dark eyes and pale skin She is wearing a shimmering gown with flowers in her hair and gossamer wings on her back Now think of this image through the eyes of a child two or three years old who watches this women from the front row in a theatre every night as she plays a spirit in a mysterious new land The next night as that child sits in his same seat the woman is transformed into Juliet and stabs herself Night after night the blood pours from her chest the audience members weep and after the curtains close the bloodstained Juliet carries her son home and puts him to bed Mankowitz 17 This was the young Edgar Poes experience of his mother Elizabeth Poe Along with the magic that surrounded her fairys wings and repeated resurrection was the love and tenderness that she showed to Edgar and the resulting selfishness he felt
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