my thesis sucks, I need help!!! : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I'm doing an independent study on Poe's poetry, this is my first time covering poetry really and I'm completly lost on how to analyze 10 of his poems to prove my thesis, which is: Edgar Allen Poe used imagery in his poems to help him explore the relationship between love and the supernatural world. I don't really like my thesis but I'm stuck with it. Please help!!

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2000


Listen since you are stuck with your thesis talk about in the Poe Raven how the Raven is actually talking. And in the tale the Tell-Tale heart talk about how he could still hear the guys heart beating. Poems and Stories like that. Hope I helped you sorry if I didn't I tried.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2000


Lacking any measure certainty of specifically what you mean by independent study and which ten poems to which you refer, any answer offered would, at best, have to be a general response. Heres mine.

First of all, you must understand that Poe had very explicit principles for writing poetry. Some, perhaps even most, may have followed accepted convention, but he appears to have believed that violation of these rules was tolerable ONLY as long as it served the primary objective. Rule number one (his prime directive if you like) was that the object of poetry was to stir or elevate the soul; that beauty was the sole province of poetry and that poetry serve beauty above truth or passion.

Truth, he felt, was the satisfaction of the intellect and placed intolerable limits on poetic expression and passion was merely a sensation or excitement of the heart. While both of these could be used in poetry, and used effectively, they must remain subservient to beauty. He believed that the artistic expression of Truth and Passion was best served in prose where expression was less restricted. In his own words..

Truth, in fact, demands a precision, and Passion, a homeliness (the truly passionate will comprehend me) which are absolutely antagonistic to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement, or pleasurable elevation, of the soul. It by no means follows from any thing here said, that passion, or even truth, may not be introduced, and even profitably introduced, into a poem  for they may serve in elucidation, or aid the general effect, as do discords in music, by contrast  but the true artist will always contrive, first, to tone them into proper subservience to the predominant aim, and, secondly, to enveil them, as far as possible, in that Beauty which is the atmosphere and the essence of the poem. (The Philosophy of Composition, EAP)

It would be difficult to say with any conviction that Poe, used imagery in his poems to help him explore the relationship between love and the supernatural world. My personal view is that this was not his intent but, actually, the interpretations of his readers. It also infers a preconceived objective that is inconsistent with his own firm beliefs. His unusually rich and lavish illustrations were intended (I think) to portray a setting and a mood that was consistent with the theme and objective of the work as a whole. Frankly, no one did this better than Edgar Allan Poe. One area at which he was unquestionably superior and has never been equaled was his ability to invoke sounds through verbal descriptions, alliterative flow and manipulation of the readers senses. A good example of this is in his Poem The Bells. Additionally, in his poem The Raven, after carefully painting a cold, dismal and bleak setting and mood in the first two stanzas, he begins the third with the line

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain..

In this single line, you can almost hear the muted hissing sounds as the cold breeze moves the folds of the curtains one upon the next and the next upon the next. This intensifies the somber setting and feel of the chamber and heightens the loneliness of the narrator. This is a excellent example of this auditory effect at which Poe excelled.

Poes use of imagery in his poems was primarily to aid and facilitate his desired effect and compliment the theme of the poem. If in doing so, he was exploring relationships between the mystic world and passions of the heart, I think it was purely attendant to and complimentary of the theme he wished to convey.


-- Anonymous, May 25, 2000

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