This paper compares the themes and tones of the three poems. This paper also lays emphasis on some events that took place in the poet's life and eventually drove him into writing such poetry. The paper also reviews the conditions, which lead to the death of a great poet, Edgar Allan Poe. Analysis of Poems by. The author thus hints that she does not feed her hopes, emphasizing thus her pessimism. In another poem, a Bird Came down the Walk, the protagonist is a real bird.
This time, Dickinson does not use the figure of the bird allegorically but rather as a symbol: the bird descends and kills a worm without being aware that somebody is watching. While Poe relates these as true stories, as opposed to the works of his own imagination, one can't but read them also as the fantastical longing of husband wanting to deny death's ability to separate him from his beloved wife.
After Virginia died, Poe went on a frenzied search for a female replacement. Not that any woman could have truly replaced Virginia in his eyes, but only that he found. Download this Term Paper in word format. Read Full Term Paper. Sources Used in Document:. Cite This Term Paper:. Related Documents:. Edgar Allan Poe s Influence on. A human mind or spirit, according to Vankirk, is the portion of the divine spirit that permeates a human body: [M]ind, existing unincorporate, is merely God.
To create individual, thinking beings, it was necessary to incarnate portions of the divine mind. Thus man is individualized. Divested of corporate investiture, he were God. Now, the particular motion of the incarnated portions of the unparticled matter is the thought of man; as the motion of the whole is that of God. There are two bodies—the rudimental and the complete; corresponding with the two conditions of the worm and the butterfly.
In the mesmerized state, as in death, Poe believed that a person sheds his organic, rudimental body and perceives the universe directly by means of his complete or ultimate body. Thus a sleep-waker may see ghosts. The ultimate body thus escapes our rudimental senses, and we perceive only the shell which falls, in decaying, from the inner form; not that inner form itself; but this inner form, as well as the shell, is appreciable by those who have already acquired the ultimate life.
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When a person dies, the organic body falls away, leaving the ultimate, inorganic body together with its associated soul. Each such ultimate person is immortal and will persist in this form until the end of the universe, at which time it gradually will coalesce with all other sentient beings to reconstitute God as pure spirit. The tale is set in Venice. The narrator is riding a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs on an evening when he hears Aphrodite shriek; her only child has slipped from her arms into the canal.
Her husband, the old Marquis Mentoni, perfunctorily gives orders for its rescue, but none can find the child. Suddenly the stranger appears, dives into the canal and returns it to Aphrodite. Following some conversation, the stranger drinks wine and lies down to rest. Immediately thereafter a 2. See G. When the narrator tries to rouse the stranger, he discovers that the stranger, too, is dead. Little attention had been paid to the decora of what is technically called keeping. In addition to visionary, meditative, and passionate, the stranger also is highly cultured and erudite.
Not only is he a poet, but an art collector and decorator as well. Thus, the stranger is presented as a veritable avatar of passionate spirit—an iconic human soul. In stark contrast to her lover, Aphrodite is presented almost as an inanimate statue or painting—a body bereft of its spirit.
The pallor of the marble countenance, the swelling of the marble bosom, the very purity of the marble feet, we behold suddenly flushed over with a tide of ungovernable crimson. Thus she appears, once again, when separated from the stranger, as an inanimate body. The narrator implies that the stranger had consorted with Aphrodite in London before her marriage Perhaps this exceptional person is Aphrodite. It also would appear that Aphrodite deliberately dropped their child into the canal in accordance with an agreement with the stranger.
He may have obtained her agreement to fulfil the joint suicide pact on condition that he symbolically prove that their union would defy death, and they therefore would be reunited in the afterlife. Rescuing their child--the result and therefore the symbol, of their union--from death would constitute such a symbolic proof. This behavior indicates that Mentoni is not the father of the child. It also presents Mentoni as a polar opposite to the stranger—mindless and bored, whereas the stranger overflows with enthusiasm and meditative energy. Both the stranger and Aphrodite are debilitated by their separation.
In the case of the stranger, his impairment is evidenced by extreme agitation. If a body attempts to reject its soul and live a soulless, purely materialistic existence, both it and its soul will be poisoned and die simultaneously; however, because they are immortal and inseparable, they will be reunited in an afterlife. Both its title and its epigraph allude to the ultimate unity of the two. He also inverts it, displaying a case in which a soul attempts to reject its body, thus showing the symmetry of the linkage.
Egaeus remarks as follows: But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before—that the soul has no previous existence. You deny it? Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. This description implies that Egaeus had attempted to renounce bodily subsistence in material reality to attain a purely spiritual or intellectual mode of being.
Here died my mother. Also like the stranger, Egaeus is to some degree nameless.
Poe, Edgar Allan
Her characteristics are those of a physical, rather than a mental, being. Naiad among its fountains! Another significant difference between Berenice and Egaeus is her aversion to education. She is even more silent than Aphrodite. As for the relationship between Egaeus and Berenice, it is still closer than that between the stranger and Aphrodite. She thus is characterized as so closely related that she represents a part of him--i. Egaeus represents a person who, estranged from his body, is trying to live as a disembodied spirit; but his spirit is diseased, and its disease seems to be caused by estrangement from his body.
These were days when my heart was volcanic As the scoriac rivers that roll. He imagines that they constitute ideas, the possession of which is essential to restoring his rationality Perhaps this is because teeth are the longest-lasting part of the body, and thus the most like immortal ideas. Egaeus awakens from a nightmarish trance to realize that he has extracted the teeth from her still living body His consort--in this case, his wife-- represents his estranged soul rather than his estranged body.
Moreover, she exhibits a powerful spirit or will when she foretells and presumably effects her own reincarnation as her daughter Further evidence that Morella represents a soul lies in her association with idealist theories of identity and reincarnation and in her power of imagination.
Although he does not mention his own physical attributes, he makes clear his lack of notable spiritual qualities. He initially was strangely attracted to Morella and therefore married her, but did not love her. I could no longer bear the touch of her wan fingers, nor the low 4. After the death of their daughter, he grew even more depressed.
And I kept no reckoning of time or place, and the stars of my fate faded from heaven. In this tale, however, while the body becomes dispirited, the soul dies and is reincarnated as a daughter. Whereas Ligeia is tall and black-haired, Rowena is shorter and blond , After Ligeia dies from an unexplained illness, her husband marries Rowena Yearning for Ligeia, he begins to abhor Rowena. Rowena grows ill, appears to die, and lies, enshrouded, on the marriage bed, while her husband sits nearby, gazing at her body and thinking of Ligeia Over and over again, Rowena seems to stir and regain color, only to relapse into rigidity Finally, she rises from the bed and totters to the center of the room, but seems to have grown taller When her husband rushes toward her, she unwraps her head, revealing the black hair and eyes of Ligeia Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with its vigor?
For God is but a great will pervading all things by the nature of its intentness. Unlike Morella and like Aphrodite and Berenice, Ligeia is beautiful. Yet her beauty is of such an ethereal character as to imply that she, even more than Morella, is a symbol of pure spirit.
Unlike Berenice, Morella, and Rowena, Ligeia does not grow ill as a result of rejection by her consort; his love for Ligeia is boundless. Yet another significant similarity among Ligeia, the stranger, Egaeus, and Morella lies in their expressive abilities. Her husband describes them at considerable length. A final sign that Ligeia is a symbol of pure spirit may be found in her lack of a surname.
As was discussed in connection with Egaeus, who declined to mention his family name, Poe seems to have viewed parentage and even individual substantiation as attributes of a body, rather than a spirit. Similar to Egaeus, he represents a soul who becomes deranged in an attempt to reject his body and embrace pure spirit. Like Ligeia, whom he idolizes and with whom he happily studied, the narrator is visionary, erudite, expressive, and extremely willful.
Alas, I feel how much even of incipient madness might have been discovered in the gorgeous and fantastic draperies, in the solemn carvings of Egypt. Rowena has none of the significant attributes of the stranger, Egaeus, Morella, Ligeia, or her husband. She is not described as visionary, meditative, erudite, expressive, or willful.
Like Berenice, Rowena fall ill after rejection by her consort. My memory flew back. The tale opens as the anonymous narrator, a boyhood friend of Roderick Usher, approaches the Usher mansion. He was summoned for a visit by a letter from Roderick indicating that Roderick was ill.
The narrator expounds at length upon this projection: [A]bout the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity—an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn—a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued. The conditions of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in the method of collocation of these stones—in the order of their arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which overspread them, and of the decayed trees which stood around—above all, in the long undisturbed endurance of this arrangement, and in its reduplication in the still waters of the tarn.
Its evidence. As soon as they do so, Roderick grows even more ill. About a week after Madeline is interred, she suddenly appears in the doorway of a room in which Roderick and the narrator are reading. The symbolic linkage between Madeline and Roderick is as strong, if not stronger, than that between the other dying women and their consorts. The implied attachment is so strong that several commentators have contended that the siblings were incestuous lovers.
He is both a composer and an artist. The narrator describes his paintings as highly 5 See, e. Like Ligeia and Morella, Roderick also is highly educated, especially with regard to idealism and life after death. The only significant spiritual marker Roderick does not share with the other avatars of spirituality is namelessness. Unlike them, he has both a given and a family name. She never speaks and is not described as having any particular mental characteristics; indeed, for most of the tale she literally figures only as an inert form.
Yet she has a substantial material presence. In addition, despite her catalepsy, Madeline exhibits great physical strength when she breaks out of her burial vault and returns to confront her brother. Moreover, her illness resembles that of Berenice and Rowena. As discussed in connection with Berenice, catalepsy is the symbolic fate of a body that has been estranged from its soul.
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The tale implies that Roderick rejects Madeline in the end, although previously they had been the closest of siblings. He hastens to bury her before she is actually dead, in a place that once was a torture chamber. The narrator also notes that Roderick acts as though he is oppressed by a guilty secret, which presumably is that he knows that he buried her alive Furthermore, even if Roderick did not deliberately entomb Madeline prematurely, he admits having failed to rescue her after 6. Long—long—long—many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it—yet I dared not—oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am!
We have put her living in the tomb! From the beginning of the story, Roderick is depicted as deranged, presumably as a result of his growing estrangement from Madeline. No reason for his illness is mentioned. Madeline, too, had been ill for a long time, and Roderick explicitly attributes his own decline in part to hers.
True to the pattern of the earlier dying woman tales, Roderick becomes even more deranged after rejecting and entombing Madeline.
POE, Edgar Allan
The narrator describes his perturbation in great detail: [A]n observable change came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend. His ordinary manner had vanished.
His ordinary occupations were neglected or forgotten. He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal, and objectless step. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible, a more ghastly hue—but the luminousness of his eye had utterly gone out. The cousin afterward leaves the Valley and finds himself in a strange city. Thus, the epigraph indicates that the story is about the immortality of the soul—and suggests that the health of the soul depends upon its incarnation in the form of a specific body, which is its metaphysical counterpart.
As previously discussed, Poe seems to have associated names with the material, rather than the spiritual aspect of a person, as they relate to circumstances of birth and other aspects of outer, material life, rather than to the inner spirit. Like all of the women in the preceding dying woman tales, Eleonora and Ermengarde are closely related to the male protagonist. For the same reasons discussed in connection with the previous dying woman tales, Eleonora and Ermengarde represent two bodies.
As for Eleonora, her beauty, naturalness, and lack of mental intensity resemble that of Berenice and suggest that she is a physical rather than a mental entity. No guile disguised the fervor of love which animated her heart. The only attribute the tale ascribes to Ermengarde is beauty With the exceptions of Rowena and Madeline, all of the women who were shown to represent bodies in the foregoing tales are described as beautiful.
Although Ligeia also is beautiful, her beauty is of the most ethereal, spiritual nature imaginable. Thus, in general, Poe seems to associate beauty with the material force of attraction rather than the spiritual force of repulsion and thus with bodies. She had seen that the finger of Death was upon her bosom— that, like the ephemeron, she had been made perfect in loveliness only to die. He proceeds to insinuate that madness is the highest state of mind: [T]he question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligencewhether much that is glorious—whether all that is profound—does not spring from disease of thought—from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. It is to the absence of idiosyncratic organs, therefore, that we must attribute the nearly unlimited perception of the ultimate life. Poe implies that such a state might seem like madness to the living. Judging from the principles set forth in Eureka, the reasons to be made known in Heaven—i.
Thus, this story, like all of the preceding dying woman tales, is an allegory of the interdependence of body and soul. Unlike the others, however, it also symbolizes the immortality of the soul through reincarnation in an ultimate body. He finds a book that discusses this and other paintings in the mansion and learns that she was the wife of the painter. The painter sat her in a dark turret chamber and turned all of his attention to creating her portrait, working feverishly day and night.
He failed to notice that she pined away as the painting progressed.
When it was completed, he saw to his horror that she was dead. Ample evidence that Poe intended the painter to represent the soul of a person who seeks to embrace a purely spiritual existence can be found in this brief tale. The details of the story make it clear that the painter neglects his wife, and that this neglect is the cause of her death. By forcing his wife to sit motionless for long hours, the painter effectively deprives her of animation, placing her in a state of rigidity, which resembles that of the epilepsy or catalepsy that plagued Berenice and Madeline Usher. Placed in stasis and finally incorporated into a painting, she also resembles Aphrodite.
The symbolic implication is clear: If a soul neglects its body, depriving the body of its source of animation, the soul will become deranged, and the body will die. In addition to the interdependence of body and soul, these essays also propound two other related principles: the immortality of the soul and the sentience of all matter.
This grand system of interlocking tales displays a uniformity too extensive and complete to be incidental. In Edward W. Other critics have noticed specific correspondences between one or more of the dying woman tales and his philosophical writings. Under this interpretation, Madeline represents the body, and Roderick the soul, of a single person. Arthur Robinson in But the process of self-development is not without limits. The modern individual disintegrates. Indeed, it best would be described as ecstatically expectant.
Of the two classes of consciousness, fancy that the former will grow weaker, the latter stronger, during the long succession of ages which must elapse before these myriads of individual Intelligences become blended. Such a difference might be analogous to one between, for example, Buddhists and some varieties of Christians. Buddhists apparently take comfort in the belief that their selves are temporary and illusory and strive for union with a kind of undifferentiated cosmic consciousness; whereas many Christians and believers in other faiths instinctively would be horrified at the idea that their selves will cease to exist or be drastically transformed.
Edgar Allan Poe
In , Thomas J. A more intricately reasoned version of this theme was propounded by Emily Miller Budick in Analogously to Budick, however, he inferred without convincing evidence that Poe, like some of his protagonists, abhorred physical existence, and failed to discern the underlying theme of the seven interlocking tales—i. May divided the seven stories into three groups.
May does not, however, recognize the moral of the allegory as the unwholesomeness— and indeed the impossibility--of embracing life as pure spirit or consciousness. Instead Poe emphasizes repeatedly that the soul and its ideals cannot exist without the body. Although the portrait was marvelous, the story does not imply that the painter profited by trading his mental health or the life of his wife for any work of art, no matter how marvelous.
Without reference to Budick or May, Matthew A. Vankirk [of] a picture of the universe in which all phenomena, both physical and spiritual, consist of a common material substrate. Although, as mentioned above, critics such as D. Although Ligeia admittedly represents an abstraction rather than a concrete individual, and the narrator is strongly attracted to her, her tale does not depict his absorption into her, nor does it depict any fear of such absorption on his part.
Those words appear in the final lines of Eureka, which are quoted above. Additionally, his use of horror might be explained by its extreme popularity with the reading public of his time. Poe lived in desperate poverty and must have been eager to win fame and earn money in order to support his beloved wife and mother-in-law. That he frequently wrote in what he believed to be both a meritorious and a crowd-pleasing genre requires no strained explanation. The interpretation of the dying woman tales proposed by this thesis is preferable to the ones discussed in Chapters II and V above, because, unlike them, it achieves all four of these goals.
Roundtable: Affect, the Short Story, and the Cycle
Completeness in a theory is desirable because it indicates maximum explanatory power. The proposed theory is complete, because it can account for the nature and behavior of the dying women and their consorts in all seven of the tales that focus upon this motif. No prior interpretation discussed above applies a single theory to explain this pattern. Although highly desirable in a theory, completeness alone is insufficient. A theory that is internally inconsistent, or inconsistent with settled external facts, must be rejected.
Where the suggested meaning runs through the obvious one in a very profound under-current, so as never to interfere with the upper one without our own volition, so as never to show itself unless called to the surface, there only, for the proper uses of fictitious narrative, is it available at all. In fact, this symbolism, while both intricate and extensive, apparently is so subtle that generations of Poe scholars failed to recognize it. To be happy at any point we must have suffered at the same. This rationalistic approach to human suffering diametrically opposes the personal terror ascribed to Poe by critics such as Robinson, Lynen, Budick, and Taylor.
Yet completeness and consistency are not the only desirable attributes of a theory. At least one of the other interpretations mentioned above, for example, that of Charles E. May, offered readings of all of the dying woman tales. It did so, however, by application of a number of relatively complicated principles, rather than by application of a single, simple principle—i. As he made abundantly clear in Eureka, Poe himself prized simplicity, unity, and symmetry, as well as consistency, as marks of both beauty and truth: [T]he sense of the symmetrical is an instinct which may be depended on with an almost blindfold reliance.
It is the poetical essence of the Universe—of the Universe which, in the supremeness of its symmetry, is but the most sublime of poems. Now symmetry and consistency are convertible termsthus Poetry and Truth are one. A thing is consistent in the ratio of its truth—true in the ratio of its consistency. A perfect consistency, I repeat, can be nothing but an absolute truth. We take it for granted, then, that Man cannot long or widely err, if he suffer himself to be guided by his poetical, which I have maintained to be his truthful, in being his symmetrical, instinct.
The proposed interpretation of the dying woman tales meets this criterion, because it not only is simple, but also reveals an elegant symmetrical unity among the dying woman tales. In addition to its other virtues, the proposed interpretation is more constructive and comforting than most of the alternatives discussed above. It reveals the heartening moral embedded in the dying woman tales and portrays Poe in a more positive light.
Thus, it shows that one of the first major writers of American literature was a sophisticated, constructive poet and philosopher, rather than merely a depraved peddler of Gothic horror. New York: Rinehart,