fascination with sick women

greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

In which stories, and perhaps poems, is Poe's fascination with sick women the central theme? Is it possible to have an analysis of any of them?

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001


There are many stories and poems that deal with your blunt question about Poe's "fascnination." His young mother died when he might have been barely old enough to remember. His surrogate mother aunt died, Mrs. Stannard, a close early friend died tragically as well. I think at that starting point of his literary development the theme was set that culminated in his statement in "The Philosophy Of Composition" as he homed in on the highest point of poetry for him, being the melancholic death of a beautiful young woman. So, his life experience moved him a t a seminal time, but the ironic culimination that was to come in the death of his own young wife was too much a dose of reality for his poetic sentiment. Forced to attend the actual decline and terrible death as an involved husband dashed any objective idealism of his Romantic school theme. Then the poetry began to reassert his coping art even more strongly in "To Annie" and "Annabel Lee" which carry on and surpass former works in bitterness and force. How that would have matured we are fated never to know for he died still with his loss of Virginia fresh and disturbing, no new life successfully begun, though he was desperately trying.

As the central theme, where by his admission they should artistically belong, these women appear in Morella, Berenice, Ligeia, the Oval Portrait. Of these Ligeai was the best and Poe's favorite tale overal perhaps because of the theme. Dying women figure less centrally in The Assignation, The Oblong Box, Usher, Marie Roget, Rue Morgue, The Black Cat. The Assignation is a special case indeed and highlights how Poe accompanies his "central theme" with prominence of the affected male, more from the emotion elicited from his loss rather than any tragedy on the lady's part or the reaction of the universe. In "Annabel lee" the tragedy is short and simple. It is the poet's feelings that are exposed, his defiance and needs shouted to the heavens. In The Assignation the jilted poet is reunited by a macabre via correspondence double suicide. Both come quickly after a loss, the story after Royster married another man, the second after the real death of his wife Virginia. As such they more poignantly make real Poe's relation to his theme- whatever his artistic theory claims in his essays. The is an essay in www.poedecoder.com I believe about women in Poe's stories. Poe's own theory I think only gives you the detached partial answer to his choices, almost blotting out personal experience.

Seek and ye shall find seems a grim moral for this story.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Oh, add "Eleanora" the tale to that list. The list of poems I have had not had time to complete, but "Ulalume", "The Sleeper" can be added I think.

-- Anonymous, August 22, 2001

Sick women...Poe once said the most poetic theme is the death of a beautiful woman. Im supposing he said this because, 1-death was glorified and melodramatic for his time. 2-Many of his most influencial people in his life were women who became sick and died, his mother, cousin, sister...

-- Anonymous, January 30, 2005

Moderation questions? read the FAQ