Analysis of Eldorado : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

What is the meaning of the poem Eldorado? What is the "pilgrim shade"? What is Eldorado?

-- Anonymous, October 24, 2000



Originally, El Dorado (meaning 'gilded man') was a legendary city of fabulous wealth in Colombia where the Chieftain was ceremoniously covered in gold and washed in a sacred lake while he cast precious gems in an offering to the Gods. When the conquistadors arrived in South America in the 16th century, this legend was still told among the Native Indians. Hoping to find this boundless wealth, Spanish and English explorers searched South America and all along the Amazon River for the lost City of Gold. Upon his return to England, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote of these adventures and for a time, El Dorado even appeared on English maps.

There is little doubt Edgar Allan Poe had heard or read of these stories and was familiar with the legend. Then, in 1848, the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California triggered the Gold Rush of 1849. After President James K Polk announced the discovery in 1849, some 80,000 people were said to have hastily sold out everything they owned to seek their fortune in California. A few found their treasure but even fewer found their new wealth in gold. Most "49ers" lost everything and ended up staying in California.

The poem "Eldorado" is a figurative representation of the fate of the majority of 49ers during the gold rush and is told from the perspective of a knight in search of his own quest. Clad resplendently in shining armor, his future bright, a brave and eager young knight sets out to pursue his life's goal. As he travels far and wide in pursuit of his glory he becomes disappointed and saddened that he finds no glory in the hunt but continues on for he knows that fame and glory shall surely be found in the deed itself.

On he travels and as he grows old his disappointment turns to disenchantment and then to despondency. Then, as his strength finally fails him, and gloom has consumed his life he is now only the spirit of the man that began the quest for glory. He meets a new knight... a young, brave and eager knight and this youthful knight asks him where he may find Eldorado. He tells him there is no fame, no glory, no Eldorado in life... that it can only be found in the Valley of the Shadow, that only in death will man reach his Eldorado. But if it is Eldorado you seek, then ride boldly on.

I suppose if there are any literary devices used it would be the way he uses the term shadow. Poe uses the shadow as a representation of the knights changing disposition as the knight is at first eager and time turns this eagerness to disappointment, his age and failing health changes it to sadness and despondency and finally changes him to a ghost of his youthful former self.


-- Anonymous, October 25, 2000

El Dorado Was, in Poe's Eyes, Family, He Was Searching all his life for family. And family was "over the mountain's of the moon & Down the valley of the shadow" in other words death & All of his family was dead. So he was searching for, but never found, his family, cause they were all dead, kind of like how the explorers searched for El Dorado but never found it.

Thanx for u'r time

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2000

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