Ligeia as a Triumph Over Patriarchy
From the time that "Ligeia" was written, critics have searched for meaning within Poe's story of a beautiful woman who died and returned in another's body. While all critics have moved in different directions, many have arguably found an allegorical meaning behind the tale. Because many literary theories depend on each other, contemporary critics tend not to limit themselves to any single theory. Many critics employ multiple theoretical perspectives at once so that a text can be best understood. Many critics have looked to Poe's relationship with women for understanding, combining biographical and feminist theory, while other critics use a variety of approaches, such as formalism and psychoanalysis, to develop their own understanding of what they believe to be an allegory. The collection of literary criticism surrounding "Ligeia" is insightful and comprehensive, and readers have the opportunity to examine interpretations from many different branches of literary theory. By looking at how critics from five different fields of criticism approach "Ligeia," readers can see how contemporary critics can interpret from a variety of perspectives in order to acquire some deeper understanding of the work.
One of the most widely used applications of literary criticism is formalism or as it is often called, New Criticism. The formalist perspective treats each piece of literature as a self-sufficient work, placing all avenues for understanding in the text itself, ignoring the social and political contexts of the author and publication, the author's biography, and other works by the same author. Formalist critics believe that form and structure are essential to the effectiveness of th...
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