Need 2 completely different interpretations of Ligeia : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I need a supernatural vs. a psychological interpretation of the story, and the problem I'm having is that..well I'm a bit lost. I can't picture this as a simple love story where Ligeia's will is strong enough to bring her back from the dead and re-unite her with the narrator (especially since at the end she shrinks away from his touch). Is she simply jealous that he re-married, or is there more to it (isn't a reincarnated woman usually evidence for a murder?) How did Ligeia die? Just what is the narrator's motivation here? And one last thing - the embedded poem..does it embody the meaning of the story like the one from the Fall of the House of Usher does? I can't make as a clear a connection between the one in Ligeia. Heh..i wrote a lot..sorry..I'de appreciate any ideas.

-- Anonymous, November 10, 2002


One thing that Poe loved to do is make the reader think for himself in the terms of character creditability. The husband in the story is heavily into opium. And he himself even said that he thought he was hallucinating. It may be that it was all a hallicination from the drugs or something else in what you're thinking. This is Poe challenge to you.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2002

The Poe tease is that he knows his readers expect the supernatural. Poe does not often comply without vagueness, rational explanations and usually complete absence of the supernatural accoutrements(magic, creatures, spells, etc.) The untrustworthy narrator here is the sole reporter of events. Ligeia exists only in the raw obsession and the sway her will has over him after death. Who she is, their love are strangely unimportant to this all consuming persistence of her will to return.

The Conqeror Worm embodies her despair at death, her garden of Gethsemane cry to God and the full circle(third stanza is the most important summary of the tale itself)is completed back to the Glanvil quote at the beginning of the story. Then she dies completing the firat part, the first marriage, the first death. It will repeat, such as the drama symbolism of the poem. it is very neat, though the poem affirms the victory of death. Man's weakness seems to demand tribute to the poem for the second wife dies while Ligeia returns. Incomplete, horrific victory, mingling thus death and overcoming death. It is NOT an ideal victory or denial of the poem which serves to add the necessary disquiet to the tale. Nevertheless the quick reader might miss the clutching nature of death for a simple twilight zone tale of someone coming back from the dead. There is much much more and it is doubtful that the imperfect will even of Ligeia has much of a sublime victory to match the divine. Instead it is a Frankenstein obsenity demanding a pagan sacrifice of a weaker woman's life.

Now as pschological(in those pre-Freud days)perhaps it is the symbol of the drama, the liturgy of the angels horribly depicted in the poem that seals the husband to aid Ligeia's partly despairing will back tolife by reenactment. He picks another place, another Ligeia, a setting this time replete with the tones of magical summoning and sacrificial ritual. Then he crushes his unloved wife so that in her defeat the defeat of Ligeia might be reversed. I think Poe was unjustly panned for the sensationalism of the ending when the full implications are more complex and horrific than the question of gross taste concerning the "resurrection."

I think his cruelty (see Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights"< Frankenstein)is evident in the loveless second marriage, a set up to recreate Ligeia. In "Morella" it was less evident that the man could be the instrument of the return. It ends as does the Lazarus story, abruptly with an awe tinged with horror, no psootitive statement of welcome or love or fulfillment or Ligeia herself except as that substitution, an unhealthy turning backward in the death of an innocent victim(sacrifice). The second wife is possessed in death, the husband has already been possessed in a priestly role vis a vis some dire goddess.

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2002

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