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Examining Poe’s Death: How Edgar Allan Poe Died From Poisoning

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Presentation on theme: "Examining Poe’s Death: How Edgar Allan Poe Died From Poisoning"— Presentation transcript:

1 Examining Poe’s Death: How Edgar Allan Poe Died From Poisoning
Ms. Dymek

2 Table of Contents Possibilities for Poison in Poe’s Time
Hair Sample Evidence Mercury Poisoning What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Evidence in Poe’s Works Possible Theory: Alcoholism Possible Theory: Tuberculosis Sources

3 Possibilities for Poison in Poe’s Time
Heavy metal poisoning was possible from: Drinking water Alcohol Food Cosmetics Medicines Gas lighting (Carbon Monoxide poisoning)

4 Hair Sample Evidence Lock of Poe’s hair was cut after his death in 1849 in order for heavy metal analysis Poe’s 2.5’’ sample analyzes the 2-5 months of his life Hair tested for levels of: Arsenic Lead Mercury Nickel Uranium

5 HAIR SAMPLE EVIDENCE Arsenic Level
Poe’s hair contained 15 times today’s normal level 2/3 the level associated with symptoms of arsenic poisoning Lead Levels Lead levels fell 33%--shows that Poe reduced his exposure Exposure could be from wine or medication Poe was an alleged drinker 3 to 4 times today’s normal level BUT not enough to cause symptoms of lead poisoning Nickel Levels Levels were 10 times today’s normal Not enough to cause symptoms of nickel poisoning HAIR SAMPLE EVIDENCE

6 Mercury Poisoning Poe’s levels increased by 264% over several months towards the end of his life Poe was taking calomel Also known as Mercury Chloride (popular from ) Used as a laxative, diuretic, and disinfectant Also used as a horticultural fungicide Still more than 30 times below level associated with mercury poisoning

7 What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Popular during 1800s due to gas lanterns, burning wood and charcoal stoves being used Symptoms include: Nausea Vomiting Chest Pain Weakness Confusion Facial Paralysis (drooping) Poe’s drooping eye and mouth are “tell-tale signs” of CO2 exposure and poisoning.

8 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Evidence in Poe’s Works
“The Tell-Tale Heart” "And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but overacuteness of the senses?” “The Premature Burial” “In this condition, without pain, without ability to stir, or strictly speaking, to think, but with a dull lethargic consciousness of life… until the crisis of the disease restored me... “ “I grew sick, and numb, and chilly, and dizzy, and so fell prostrate at once."  

9 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Evidence in Poe’s Works
“The Fall of the House of Usher” "struggled to reason off the nervousness which had dominion over me"   "irrepressible tremor gradually pervaded my frame"   "there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror” There are over 30 quotes from just this story that correspond directly with the CO poisoning theory!

10 Possible Theory: Alcoholism
Alcoholism ran in Poe’s family Father and brother both alcoholics Poe’s Public Drinking Records of drinking came from “literary enemies” Came to office intoxicated in April 1845 July 7, 1849: Wrote letter to Maria Clemm about jail time Poe drank mostly because depression brought on by of Virginia’s death

11 Possible Theory: Alcoholism
Went to Sons of Temperance meeting a month before his death “Poe’s flirtation with alcohol was intermittent” “a few days of drinking followed by months or even years of abstinence” Poe’s 1841 letter to Snodgrass admits single deviation, showing Poe’s honesty

12 Possible Theory: Alcoholism April 1841 Letter to J.E. Snodgrass
“. . . I am temperate even to rigor. . . . At no period of my life was I ever what men call intemperate. . . . For some days after each excess I was invariably confined to bed. But it is now quite four years since I have abandoned every kind of alcoholic drink — four years, with the exception of a single deviation . . . when I was induced to resort to the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack” For more information about Poe and alcoholism, click here.

13 Possible Theory: Tuberculosis
Extremely contagious bacterial infection Spreads mostly through lungs, lymph node, blood stream Many in Poe’s family died from Tuberculosis Virginia contracted TB in 1842—died in 1847 Many who are exposed never develop symptoms TB can lay dormant for years in a person’s body Disease will not spread unless it becomes “active”

14 Possible Theory: Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis Symptoms Immediately Present Prior to Death Chills Fever Night sweats Poor appetite At The Time of His Death: in and out of consciousness Speech was incoherent Called out for an unknown person named “Reynolds” CO Poisoning Persistent Headaches Confusion Memory Loss Loss of Consciousness Poe’s symptoms that were present at his death coincided more with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning than with Tuberculosis.

15 Click on the following links if you would like to know more about:
Edgar Allan Poe Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Poe’s Alcoholism and Tuberculosis For more information…

16 Sources Donnay, Albert. ”A Edgar Allan Poe and The Tell-Tale Face of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning." POE: The Tell-Tale Face of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Referral and Resources, Web. 07 Mar <http://www.mcsrr.org/poe/>. "E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore - Poe's Death." E. A. Poe Society of Baltimore - Poe's Death. Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, 1 May Web. 01 Mar <http://www.eapoe.org/geninfo/poethair.htm>. Hartshorn, W.S., and C.T. Tatman. Cropped Image from the Famous E.A. Poe Daguerrotype Photograph. Wikipedia Commons. Web. 13 Mar <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEdgar_Allan_Poe_crop.jpg>. Klimas, Anne, David Tauriello, Ben Graff, Mary Esselman, and John Sullivan. "MPT: Knowing Poe: Home." MPT: Knowing Poe: Home. Maryland Public Television, Web. 01 Mar Poe, Edgar A. "The Fall of the House of Usher." 18 Best Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Dell, Print. Poe, Edgar A. ”The Premature Burial." 18 Best Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Dell, Print. Poe, Edgar A. ”The Tell-Tale Heart." 18 Best Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Dell, Print. PoeStories.com. Edgar Allan Poe. N.d. Photograph. PoeStories Web. 7 Mar <http://poestories.com/images/poe_portrait.jpg>. Poe's Grave. N.d. Photograph. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, Baltimore. Pics4Learning. Web. 13 Mar ”What Is Tuberculosis? Picture, Diagnosis, Causes." WebMD. Ed. Melinda Ratini, DO. WebMD, 25 Apr Web. 07 Mar <http://www.webmd.com/lung/understanding-tuberculosis-basics>.

17 PowerPoint Created by Cate Dymek Cathryn_dymek@hcpss.org


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