What does the fable "Silence" mean?greenspun.com : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread
I've been reading the "Silence" a fable by Poe but I haven't been able to understand the meaning. Please help me by sending a summary of the fable.
-- Anonymous, September 24, 2002
The Demon narrates his amusement of tormenting a classical thinker seeking solitude to ? the writer who is not amused, because the horror bothers him too. Set as an Islamic tale(the demon is like a Djinn) it is about the disturboing side of nature and reality, the flip side of its beauty and music. The river Zaire sets it in Africa, so the man might represent the end of Western Rome and the flight to monasticism etc.
As in his poem "Dreamland" a dreamscape poem like "A City in the Sea" there is a tension between silence and motion in a land of the dead. As in his novel Pym and his essay about a travelogue in the middle east dealing with a cursed land, Poe seems to be trying to work a real experience and/or dream of his own. An early poem about childhood that concludes with "of a demon in my view" seems to show that this revelation of profound dismay in nature goes back quite far. Many elemnets of Fable suggest the haunting legends of the Hebriedes islands he visited as a child when in Britain. Enclosure by the dark, tal forest(claustrrophobic), the mournful motion without wind of the dire, fantastic landscape, afflict the man on the rock of DESOLATION. He has no peace, no silence in his mind or his environment, desolate, worn, disturbed. The demon is bothered however and manipulates the scene in several ways at night to no avail. He even lets loose with real noise(hippopatmi) and real wind.
Finally he gets it right. Everything mirrored the man's soul so he found, if not peace, at least harmony in his environment. The demon removes all noise,all wind, all motion. The rock changes to SILENCE, an utter devastation and void beyond mournful desolation. From this the man flees. The demon goes back to his tomb,laughs and the end is a tableax of another silent closed circle where a token beast comes out to stare at the demon. So who needs you narrator, go away! This fable is a sideways attack that depersonalizes, empties the man listening to the story as much as the victim of the story. Art can do what experience does. Thus the "fable."
As for the philoosophical lesson(first it is important to get carried away by the mood Poe is trying get you to expereience and the use of silence as a climax of existential horror) read Poe's sonnet on Silence which talks about the two kinds. Fable finally getsto the second kind, the utter, unnatural void that attacks the soul too used to relating to nature. The demoin there is the "Nameless Elf" a haunting dread that fills the tormented soul when all else is silenced.
-- Anonymous, September 26, 2002