Life and Death as Portrayed in Edgar Allan Poe’s
Life and Death as Portrayed in Edgar Allan Poe’s
Notwithstanding the fact that life and death is a recurring and typical theme in most literary genres, famous American poet Edgar Allan Poe successfully depicted this theme through his creative and inventive literary techniques present in the poems The Bells and The Haunted Palace. Poe’s The Bells depicts a representation of life from youth to the pain of age as time passes by. The four kinds of bells which are described in details in the poem can be associated to the four seasons or stages in the life of an individual (Bell 83). The silver bells represent spring, birth and beginning which entails happiness in the life of a person.
This stage in the life of people usually occurs during the 20s or 30s. The golden bells on the second stanza could also represent happiness and joy to a person. This commonly takes place during weddings when two people are bounded by their enduring love and commitment. The brazen bells on the third stanza, on the other hand, portray the fall season within the individuals where mid life crisis seems to engulf their whole life. This season also indicates that winter is near that is why the third stanza sounds very different from the two first stanzas.
The last stage refers to the winter which was depicted by the iron bells. This season entails death as winter is the time when leaves, flowers and trees wither and die. Likewise, this poem is also much associated to the author’s mourning over his lost wife whom he courted in sledge, married and then killed in fire in the end of the story. In real life situation, Poe lost his wife which caused him a great misery in his own life. The last stanza of this poem had many other implications in the real life of the author itself.
The portrayal of this poem about the different stage in the maturation of individuals, in addition, becomes very successful since Edgar Allan Poe has the incredible ability to use sounds and images to concretize the ideas and emotions in his works. The different metal sounds, for instance, which were portrayed by the four kinds of bell, give the concrete justifications to the description of the different stages of human development. Each bell in the poem perfectly represents distinct tone and sound to every stage in the life of an individual.
Poe, in this poem, indeed shows how meter, rhyme scheme, diction and syntax create sensory images for the literary works. Looking carefully at the overall structure of the poem, furthermore, anyone will find that death composes the major idea of the poem. Death is greatly discussed through the dominating tone and mood of the speaker in the poem. The bells, the objects used to personify the theme of the poem, also signify death and even described to experience death through the words moaning and groaning in the last part of the poem.
Just like the poem The Bells, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace is also considered to discuss the theme death through its images and personifications. This poem was incorporated by Poe in his short story entitled The Fall of the House of Usher as a poem written by Roderick Usher, the main character in the story. This poem is a metaphor about a king who is afraid of evil forces that greatly threaten him and his palace. In this poem, the theme death is also very dominant just like the poem The Bells. The king, as described in the poem, is very doomed to face death in his life.
This occurrence is sometimes true to most of the people since many treat death as the end of everything. The use of figurative treatment in this poem, moreover, illustrates how death comes to people and how most individuals react about death. The evil spirits in the palace serve as the metaphor of the thoughts of people about death which drive and lead individuals to insanity. Just like the king, many people are very afraid to face their own death. It is like the evil spirits in the poem which make a person out of his or her mind.
Poe’s The Haunted Palace becomes a great poem of our time because of its perfect use of symbolism and imagery to justify and concretize the dominating theme of the poem. The palace in the poem which was haunted by the evil spirits represents a man in our society. The evil spirits portray the crazy thought of every man to death and its consequences. The poem illustrates that the palace is being hunted by the evil spirits just like a man who is being haunted by the frightening thought of death that may come in his life anytime of the day in his or her life.
In the above discussions, it is very clear that the two poems, which are carefully crafted by literary symbolisms and imagery, are discussing the theme death which has something to do with the personal life of the author itself. Critics argue that Poe’s literary works mostly discuss death since they are the perfect reflection of his imperfect life. As a child, Poe had a very scary and sad experience as he was left in a room with the dead corpse of his mother for three days. As a student and youth, he suffered from a gambling addiction and other bad activities. At twenty-seven, Poe married his thirteen year old cousin.
After the death of his wife, Poe became alcohol and drug abuser since he received less wealth and fame in his entire life (Gill 20). His life ended two years after the death of his wife as he was found drowned in his own vomit. In this sense, the theme death and suffering, which are indeed dominating in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, are somehow justified in the real life situation of the author itself. These works can be considered to inspirations based from the experiences of the author. It is also a writing style from Poe which became a significant topic for debates for as long period of time (Zimmerman 3).
In total, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells and The Haunted Palace are literary works that perfectly tackle issues about death coupled with great literary devices such as symbolism and imagery. The Bells’ distinctive and creative sounds heard in each bell of the four stanzas intensify the discussion of the poem about the four stages of life of an individual with emphasis on death as the final stage of life. The Haunted Palace’s figurative and symbolic tools, on the other hand, perfectly discuss the fear of every man to face death in his life.
The two poems are truly worth to consider as among the many literary classics of the world that will never die in the heart and mind of the people since they are indeed a creative and inventive fruits of the perspiration and labor of a good literary artist. Works Cited Gill, William Fearing. The Life of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2009. Poe, Edgar Allan. The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volume 1. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2008. Zimmerman, Brett. Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and style. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.