A famous author who initiated the start of detective stories and could spook his readers out with his tales of horror was born in January 19,1809. He was a wonderful short story writer and a poet. One of his masterpieces that he is well known for is known as “The Raven.” I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that I’m speaking of the “Father of the Detective stories” known as Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s work reflected his own bitter and mysterious life. In most of his writing there is a blur between what is real and what if fiction because many of his narrators are on some sort of drugs. Edgar was a romantic writer, and his style was gothic.
Edgar Allan Poe was a romantic in his writing. He was a part of the American renaissance movement and it is apparent he along with many other American writers rejected the British form of writing. He seemed to embrace that writing should express emotions. It shouldn’t just follow a certain rubric of rules but effuse from the heart. The tell-tale signs of a romantic writer are strong idealism and rejection of classicism. These characteristics are vividly found in his work known as “Ligeia”.
In this story the narrator is an opium addict who marries a woman named Ligeia. He finds her to be very intriguing. He sees her as a beautiful woman with a mysterious personality. Unfortunately, she dies and he ends up marrying a stereotypical woman named Rowena. She is the complete opposite of Ligea in that she is exactly the way all the women of his era are supposed to be like. At the end of the story this woman also dies but then Ligea returns to the author through Rowena’s dead body. The romantic writer uses many examples to illustrate his preference for Romanticism over British literature and Classicism.
The preference of the author for his first wife is an example of strong idealism and rejection of classicism. For instance, the writer describes his wife as an extraordinary being…almost inhuman: “She came and departed as a shadow.” Then he goes on to talk about her eyes and mentions that they are much bigger than normal eyes should be. He has a soft spot for her unique features and admires her intelligence. It is because she is different from the norm of women, he finds her attractive. She is a symbol of rebellion to the rules of classicism and her characteristics paint the art of romanticism. He then contrasts her “Singular yet placid cast of beauty” with the “fair-haired” and “blue-eyed” classical beauty of Rowena. It is apparent he prefers his first wife over the latter one because he repeatedly compares the two but compliments the first one.
Poe then goes on to demonstrate strong idealism in his work. Idealism was basically a term used to define the optimistic nature of American writers in the good nature of mankind. In this story the fact that the narrator’s first wife comes back to life through the body of his second wife is a symbol of optimism. The author had described his wife as a woman who had wisdom of divine matters. He believed in her wisdom so much that he was sure she had used it to resurrect herself. It is also useful to know that the author was an opium addict. His point of view may have been distorted with hallucinations but the opium usage itself is an example of strong idealism. It is through this usage he is able to find his favorite wife come back to life simply because he willed for her to return to him. Her return could even be literal after she claims that, “Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will” (Lombardi). So maybe she was really there and if she was then this is a fine example of idealism. Considering, idealism is the hope of having a very unlikely event occur because of someone’s optimism.
One more example of idealism in Ligeia is no significance of time or space. The American writers wanted to be very distinct from the old literature and wanted to cut off from them. As a result, they made time and space irrelevant to their work as a rebellion to rules. This explains why readers are never told how or when the author met his first wife or at what time she was reincarnated. For example, Poe says “I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia. (Deter) In addition, the author is so caught up the description of Ligeia he doesn’t remember the beginning of his relationship with her or what the ending to her is. She seems to consume him to the point that time and space don’t matter to him. Does she even have an ending? Considering she comes back to life as if manipulating time is one of her skills. All of these details just add to how much of a romantic writer Edgar Allan Poe really is.
Poe used a very gothic style of writing. His work was usually dramatic, suspenseful and melodic. “The Raven” is a perfect example of these writing techniques. For instance, in “The Raven” the setting of the story is in his apartment in a lonely December night. The narrator is missing his lover, Lenore, who died. He is trying to distract himself by delving into the realms of his books but is sadly failing in all his attempts. Then a Raven appears at his window and knows of one word, “Nevermore.” He asks the Raven if he would see his lover again, but it replies “Nevermore.” The Raven angers the author and he tells it to leave to which the Raven gives the same answer, “Nevermore”. This poem is very meaningful and pretty much defines the themes and styles that Edgar loved to promote in his work.
One thing to be noted when reading this poem aloud is that repeating Nevermore aloud after each stanza is a purposeful tactic. Edgar’s melodic instincts shine through this technique. He does this to emphasize the unity of effect and so that each stanza reflects the meaning of the poem as a whole. In addition, the “O”’s in “Lenore” and “Nevermore” are too emphasized so that the unity of effect occurs once more. Moreover, this woman has left him and she is no more so the two words are parallels to the emotions of the author at the moment. They signify his loneliness.
Edgar’s poetry is always well thought-out and he is always on a mission to have relatable but dramatic themes that will suck his readers in. In this poem he combines the theme of beauty with death. The beauty is represented by the memory of his beloved lover but who has met the ugly reality of death. He asks the Raven whether he will meet her in heaven but is hit by the cruel answer “Nevermore”. This blatantly ugly reality is what makes his poem have an even more gothic and depressing touch.
Courtney from Study Moose
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