Death is an instance in which all vitals of the body have shut down, when life no longer remains in the body, and when something is declared dead. But, there is always something that causes this death whether old age, illness, tragedy, accidents, or suicide. In some cases, the cause of death is known soon after the passing or even before they have passed. In other cases, it takes quite some time to figure out exactly why life was lost. Then, there are those very few occasions that no exact cause is known and many assumptions are thrown around naming phony reasons for the death when in the end, it will always be a mystery. Many have come up with different assumptions and accusations of Poe’s death, but none have been claimed to be the absolute positive explanation of it. John S. Craig writes, “His death in Baltimore, Maryland, October 7, 1849, has been surrounded by mystery form the very moment he was found unconscious in a Baltimore tavern a few days before he died in a hospital” .
A few of the hypotheses are that Poe was an alcoholic, whose drinking led to his death, had medical problems and diseases that eventually caused his passing, and the Cooping Theory, which ended in him being severely beaten which led to his death a few days later. Poe’s death is a mystery that will never be completely solved. Poe’s death could have occurred through some sort of alcoholism. Different forms of disaster, stress, and depression drove Poe to drink. During Virginia’s, Poe’s wife, long battle with different illnesses, Poe began to drink quite a bit to help cope with the stress that evolved from this tragedy. Madhavi Ghare writes, “On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found drunk and unconscious on the streets of Baltimore, in someone else’s clothes. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died four days later on October 7, 1849” ( ? ). One theory of Poe’s alcoholism is that he had a rare medical condition where simply one or two drinks could have a devastating outcome towards his immune system making it seem like he has had way more. This was also backed by Poe telling his wife, friends, and others who asked how many drinks he had, that he had only drunk one or two.
The problem with this statement is that we do not know if Poe was telling the truth or hiding the fact that he had been excessively drinking all night. Alcohol might or might not have played a role in Poe’s death; it is a mystery we will never know the answer too. Another circumstance in which Poe could have died is from different illnesses and diseases. Back in the time, Poe was alive, medical treatment and diagnosis were still at a low level. Even if one was said to have a certain illness, a treatment to heal was most likely still unknown. Poe was thought to have many diseases and illnesses including lesions on the brain, heart disease, cholera, excessive nervous prostration, loss of nerve power, enzyme disorder, tuberculosis, epilepsy, diabetes, rabies, and hydrophobia. One of the diseases that made the most sense for him to have was rabies. R. Michael Benitez writes, “Poe was a well-known animal lover and was especially fond of cats, which can transmit the rabies virus. There was no record of an animal bite preceding Poe’s ailment, but the illness can take more than a year to surface” ( ? ).
Even though Poe might not have had a bite mark on him at the hospital, the incident in which the rabies was transferred could have been up to a year before then. Poe was thought to have many different illnesses and diseases which could have easily taken his life from him. One possible circumstance that could have resulted in Poe’s death is the Cooping Theory. The Cooping Theory is when on election day, gangs use to kidnap bystanders and hold them hostage in a room, known as the “coop,” and make them go to the poll and vote over and over again for who the gang wanted to win the election. The gangs would beat the people and get them drunk to ensure they cooperated. CW Fisher writes, “Beatings became more frequent and severe as the day wore on, partly to keep the voters awake and motivated, and partly to ensure a loss of memory” ( ? ). The gangs would make the people change clothes so the poll workers would not recognize them and let them vote again. When Poe was found on a bench, he was near poll called Ryan’s Fourth Ward Polls. This poll served as a bar and voting poll. Poe was drunk and he was not wearing his own clothes. This evidence leads to the assumption that Poe’s death evolved from the Cooping Theory.
Poe’s death has many explanations and assumptions that will never be solved. Poe’s death can range from him drinking himself to death, dying from different illnesses such as rabies, tuberculosis, diabetes, cholera, heart disease, brain disease, or him being a victim of the Cooping Theory, which forced him to drink excessively and be beaten multiple times by gangs at election polls. It is a mystery. Poe wrote many mysterious stories himself including “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Purloined Letter,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “A Descent into Maelstrom. ” It is ironic that his death is a mystery itself. Elizabeth Flock writes, “Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories are filled with cryptic death scenes, so it was only fitting that the master of the macabre would meet a similarly mysterious end” ( ? ). Flock makes it seem as though it was Poe’s fate for his death to remain a mystery, and remain a mystery, it has.
Page Craig, John S. The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s Death. 7 Jan. 2009.
http://voices.yahoo.com/the-mystery-edgar-allan-poes-death-2463818.html? cat=38? There, Madhavi. Edgar Allan Poe Biography. 10 Oct. 2012.
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/edgar-allan-poe-biography.tml? Benitez, R. Michael. Did Rabies Fell Edgar Allan Poe?. 2 Nov. 1996.
http://www.cswnet.com/~erin/eap3.htm? Fisher, CW. The Murders of Edgar Allan Poe. 5 May 2005.
http://depressionalmanac.blogspot.com/2005/05/murders-of-edgar-allan-poe.html? Flock, Elizabeth. Edgar Allan Poe died 162 years ago, yet the mystery of his death has not been solved. 7 Oct. 2011.