The Portrayal of Women in Edgar Allan Poe's Literature
Length: 363 words (1 double-spaced pages)
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Not only does Ligeia's unusual beauty represents the main theme throughout the story, but the text reflects Poe's rejecting the "ordinary", a common theme in literature. The writer rejects classical values and welcomes supernatural through unusual, mysterious beauty.
Ligeia was extremely beautiful, she knew a lot. A relationship with the narrator was a deep affection. He describes her very precisely as being afraid to omit any perfect feature: "I examined the contour of the lofty and pale forehead -- it was faultless (…), the skin rivalling the purest ivory (…), the gentle prominence of the region above the temples"… The speaker portrays his perfect spouse almost like a ghost : "She came and departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her entrance into my closed study". He also thinks her beauty, more specifically her eyes, as a "strange mystery". The narrator sees a secret in his beloved eyes. Her eyes make her seem unreal because they are so "expresive" and the narrator cannot explain except that they "far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race". He even compares Ligeia's eyes to the stars: "Those eyes! Those large, those shining, those divine orbs! They became to me twin stars of Leda…". The narrator is impressed by her voice also: "which at once so delighted and appalled me -- by the almost magical melody, modulation, distinctness and placidity of her low voice."
At first it seems that the narrator is interested in Ligeia's body only, because the largest part of her portrait consists of her physical appearance. But later it appears that the narrator is also impressed by her knowledge, she was the first woman met by him who was so intelligent. And in some spheres she knew even much more than her husband: "In the classical tongues was she deeply proficient and as far as my own acquintance extended in regard to the modern dialects of Europe. I have never known her at fault".
Her beauty is very non-traditional: "features were not of that regular mould which we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labors of the heathen".
While Rowena has a classical appearance: "the fair-haired, the blue-eyed". The narrator is not so much affected by Rowena. When he marries her, does not even tells her appearance, only talks about bridal chamber, what shows that he is not interested in Rowena at all. And when the narrator is with Rowena, he always thinks about Ligeia. He kills Rowena off , having Ligeia, the heroine and personification of beauty, live on through Rowena's body.
In Romanticism, many times the writers threw out the rational and replaced it with irregular and unexplained.