edgar allen poe

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Poe insists that the creation of supernal (heavenly)beauty is the highest expression of the "poetic sentiment". What are two instances in his works in which the ideal is destroyed by the real?

-- Anonymous, December 08, 2004


The Fall of the House of Usher is largely the decline and fall of a man desperate to evade fate by fleeing to the ideal. The issue is never in doubt. He simply seems to be trying to escape to preserve his sanity. and leans as much on his friend as upon his various forms of art. The Raven is similarly a man trying find solace in memory idealized yet a simple bird undoes his web of reason and faith by trapping his mind in its own doubts. His hope of ever rejoining(or escaping the memory) Lenore is crushed by the simple dumb repetition of a natural beast. In fact, Poe's protest about seeking beauty is more than undone by the tone of melancholy. It often is a horror and and a destructive trap(Ligeia) where the wild sentiment is not repose in beauty but extreme terror. Annabel Lee is not about his lover but about HIS experience and bond to the passion. That happens a lot(unnoticed by many readers) in many poems and stories. Not only is the idealized object a far second to the self sentiment, but that self sentiment is extremely obseessive, sometimes repulsed and reluctant, but utterly fascinated by the unnatural feelings for their own sake, come what may to any and all, including the enslaved writer/narrator.

The Imp of the Perverse shows Poe was aware of his contradictions even in the most important ideas and convictions cocnering either Beauty or Reason.

-- Anonymous, December 09, 2004

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