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Edgar Poe’s Annabel Lee: Narrative Text Analysis Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2020

Introduction

Of Edgar Allan Poe’s entire legacy, Annabel Lee is, perhaps, the most famous poem. It incorporates a range of themes and creates a unique mood, allowing the reader relate to the lead character. A careful choice of stylistic devices and a form makes Annabel Lee a true gem even among Poe’s major works.

Key Themes: Love, Death and Mortality

Like most of Poe’s works, Annabel Lee renders the theme of death. While the poem is often viewed as a lyric one and, therefore, related closely to the theme of love, Annabel Lee is shot through with the anticipation of death and renders the concept of mortality in a very obvious way: “That the wind came out of the cloud by night, /Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee” (Poe, 1849, lines 25–26). Much to Poe’s credit, though, the theme of mortality is not stated in the poem explicitly; instead, the poet renders the issue of death with the help of a range of symbols, including the mentioning of heaven: “The angels, not half so happy in Heaven” (Poe, 1849, line 21). The incorporation of the idea of mortality into the poem that was supposed to concern solely the issue of love may seem somewhat controversial; however, seeing that such an expression as “loving someone till death” has become a household cliché, relating the specified themes to each other seems quite legitimate.

Mood: Between Transcendental and Existential

As death and mortality along with love make the key themes of the poem, it will be reasonable to suggest that the mood of the latter is quite dark, despite the lyrical tone and the fact that love remains one of the key themes of Annabel Lee. As a result, the mood of the poem turns out to be driven by melancholy and can be defined as existential.

It could be argued, though, that the supernatural element, particularly, the mentioning of Heaven and afterlife, makes the overall mood of Annabel Lee quite transcendental (“With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven” (Poe, 1849, line 11)), with some elements of the supernatural being mentioned as the story of love unwraps: “And neither the angels in Heaven above/Nor the demons down under the sea/Can ever dissever my soul from the soul/Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (Poe, 1849, lines 30–33). Indeed, there are arguments regarding the overall mood of Poe’s poetry. While some sources claim it to be transcendental, others consider the gloomy realm of Poe’s universe as questioning the meaning of life and, therefore, leading to the existential interpretation of life. Therefore, it can be assumed that Annabel Lee has a bit of both in it.

Point of View: Through the Lens of the Lead Character

Written in the first person, the poem invites the reader into its universe from its very first lines. With every new sentence, Poe develops the story as the narrator sees it, allowing the reader to identify themselves with the leading character: “I was a child and she was a child” (Poe, 1849, line 7). The point of view, from which the poem is represented to the audience, is easily identifiable, since Poe uses the first person pronouns like “I,” “me,”“we,” etc. in every single line (“And this maiden she lived with no other thought/Than to love and be loved by me” (Poe, 1849, lines 5–6)) to denote the people in his story and create a very strong link between the characters and the audience: “I and my Annabel Lee” (Poe, 1849, line 10). Powerful and sad, the poem is packed with metaphors and hidden innuendoes, which makes it a truly fantastic work of art.

Reference List

Poe, E. A. (1849). . Poetry Foundation. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Edgar Poe’s Annabel Lee: Narrative Text Analysis'. 15 June.

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