Regarding Morella & Berenice : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I 've tried most sites to search for the criticism/analysis for Morella & Berenice but to no avail. I hope discussions & debates on these 2 stories can be activated here. Thanx!

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2001


Berenice: The narrator, whose line has "been called a race of visionaries"-- does that refer more to foreseeing the future or dreaming? What significance does it hold in the narrator's actions? The narrator claimed to have "powers of meditation". Meditation is very powerful in Buddhism terms-- going into the depths of one's mind. Some people can do extraordinary things while meditating, eg. hopping while in a sitting lotus position, painting etc. Thus do you think that he assume to be dreaming while meditating, such that he is able to rip off Berenice's teeth? If he is indeed dreaming, then can one argue that he might have actually sleep-walked? He is so focused even in his dreams because of his 'monomania'. Is there any significance to the almost-incest relationship of the cousins? Is it really incest anyway? Oh yes! The narrator did mentioned that he had never loved Berenice during her brightest days (maybe he was jealous because he lived in such gloom). Thus do you reckon when he's lost in his dreams or meditating, he actually had the will to destroy Berenice's happiness? Thus his monomania only occur & increase after Berenice was struck with malady. Could his profuse, unceasing monomania have gained strength by absorbing Berenice's energy through will in his dream/meditation, such that Berenice is slowly reduced to shadows. But what is the significant of Berenice's sinister smile/show of teeth?--it seemed very uncharacteristic of her.Or could this be part of the narrator's dream as well? Could it also be that maybe the narrator can't help what he's doing--- that these unfortunate things occur involuntarily due to his powerful mind? Because in the end, he did not triumph in joy in discovering that he had ripped Berenice's teeth & he was in fact freting trying to remember what had he done. Morella: Morella is very much like Ligeia---profound minded, exquisite- natured, seemingly backgroundless, studies transgressive texts, possesses mysterious unfathomable eyes. Could it be that Morella still loves the narrator, and truely hopes he'll love her? Thus she dies knowingly, wanting him to love the fresh Morella (the narrator loved her deeply when they were freshly wed). Morella did believe that identity at death "is not lost forever." We indeed see that in Morella junior later. But before she died, she did foreshwdow/sealed fate in the future.Did she do that to prove her powers? She even said at her deathbed :"....which thou didst feel for me, Morella." Morella is already speaking to morella! And the baby "breathed not until the mother breathed no more." Does Morella delibrately reincarnate herself to give the narrator a second chance to love her, or to torment the narrator or to experiment/prove her forbidden studies? Why did Morella also curse the narrator--that he may never be happy again? The narrator was not at all shocked or fearful when he discovered Morella no. 1 was gone from the tomb. And what was that "long and bitter laugh" for? Is it that he ridicules at Morella's pathetic tactics in escaping the tomb but is put back to where she's belong again?

Would anyone out help me out with these questions? Please at least give your opinions. Thanx!

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

If you wend your way through to the essays about Poe there is an article that treats about these two stories. I wish they would put all their articles online. These heroines, as many others, culiminating perhaps in Ligeia, seem to be a dysfunctional variation of the Dante/Beatrice, woman-as-muse relationship. When dead or preferably hovering on the borderland and in dreams the full poetic effect on the male character or on Poe is achieved. It is that central confrontation with the "supernal" that horrifies, mystifies, entrances and pulls the poet out of the normal world.

For all their strangeness as undying muses, the women are easier to understand perhaps than the often unanalysed reaction of the male, wqho it seems is left hanging there on the edge of a vision somewhat forced upon him but no less obsessive. The fact that baptism drives out the spirit of Morella and kills the daughter shows the dark side of the muse. Ligeia is just as chilling but more ambiguous. Beatrice was completely holy in counterbalance balance to Dante's own dark side. Poe was actually a bit more complex or mixed and not into theology enough to sort out these different pulls. he seems in his own poems to have a certain reluctance before this deadly muse, better spilled out in the vitriolic, rebellious poems of Baudelaire as a curse.

Wan't Berenice, and/or Morella supposed to be(in Poe's often untrustworthy protestations)a satire of the overly grotesque gothic stories more common in the contemporary magazines? People didn't take it that way and were appalled at the tasteless extremes? "How to Write a Blackwood Article" was another case of jabbing at the usual magazine fare.

-- Anonymous, June 22, 2001

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