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Marie Bonaparte

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Marie Bonaparte

Marie Bonaparte was a psychoanalyst closely linked to Sigmund Freud. Marie was a student of Freud and an admirer of Poe, and as such she is an ideal choice of psychologist for this assignment. Marie Bonaparte chose to explain Poe's personality in the context of the trauma he suffered in childhood: the death of his mother and the abandonment by his father.

Bonaparte thought Poe was preoccupied by death; in particular, death scenes involving beautiful women. Bonaparte theorized that perhaps Poe was attempting to recreate a moment when he would be reunited with his mother (in death).

Bonaparte thought Poe often drank himself to the point of temporary impotence because Poe was concerned with his tendencies towards sado-necrophilia (sado-necrophilia is a combination of deriving pleasure from inflicting pain on others, along with finding the dead to be desirable).Getting drunk was perhaps Poe's method of preventing him from ever acting upon his unnatural urges.

Poe's writings convey sado-necrophilla with some frequency; Bonaparte noted. We see the best evidence of this theory in Poe's work, The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe describes the death-like trance of a beautiful woman, who is eventually entombed alive.

It's important to note that Bonaparte held the opinion that necrophilia in Poe's instance did not mean he wanted to have intercourse with the dead. Rather, Poe sought to lie beside a loved one after death - namely, his mother who had died so young and prematurely. He sought her companionship badly, could not acquire that, so he wrote about it in his works to satisfy his psychological need.

Marie Bonaparte further held the view that Poe's existence involved a life-long search for his lost mother, which was fully evident in his works. Imprisonment in small spaces and confinement in small places reoccur in his writings. Marie felt that may have been a psychological manifestation of his desire to be back in his mother's womb.

Examples that Marie Bonaparte no doubt leaned upon for this conclusion are the following:

" The Cask of Amontillado" - a nobleman is walled up alive, left to die.

"Black Cat" - a murdered wife and a cat are walled up.

"Murders in the Rue Morgue" - a body is stuffed up a tight chimney space.

Overall, it seems clear that Marie Bonaparte had done an extensive study of Poe's character, his works, and his life events. This in turn allowed her to use her talents as a psychoanalyst to put forth some seemingly very valid observations as to why Poe's writings were so dark. And, of course, help to explain why Poe behaved the way that he did.

Erik Erikson

Erikson theories revolved around children and how they relate to the world and how they relate to others. Erikson said that there were Psychosocial Stages centering on conflict that a child encounters during certain critical periods of their childhood.

Erikson's first stage centered upon trust versus mistrust. A child learns at this stage whether or nor they can trust the world. Clearly Erikson would have keyed upon Poe's strong mistrust of a world that took his mother from him and saw his father abandon him. Without an appropriate balance of trust and mistrust, Poe would have been unable to develop the ego strength that Erikson defined as "hope". In other words, Erikson felt that a child deprived very early on of basic trust of the world around him would lack hope, and not develop to their optimal functioning as a person. Further, Erikson probably would have stated that Poe's overall lack of hope was the fuel for the darkness of his writings; Poe's views of the world were adversely changed forever.

Poe's work, The Cask of Amontillado, speaks to the issue of mistrust. Fortunado, a rich nobleman, trusts his friend Monstresor. Fortunado is ultimately betrayed by his friend, eventually getting walled up alive and left to die. Fortunado's only crime was an insult so minor that Poe doesn't even specify what the insult is; maybe Poe feels that Poe's only "offense" to the world was being born? Is this the reason that Poe deliberately leaves out the insult ... perhaps; we can only speculate.

Another stage of Erikson's, industriousness versus inferiority, would come into play when you analyze Poe. Erikson would have had the opinion that Poe became industrious (worked for himself; self motivated) during Poe's early school days in an advanced fashion due to the fact that Poe's parents were gone. Poe had an early transition from being loved unconditionally for who he was to being able to master the challenges of the academic environment. In other words, Poe has little choice than

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