Poem Analysis

657 Words2 Pages
Contrasts of Speaker’s View in Edgar Allan Poe’s “To Helen” and H.D.’s “Helen” Helen of Troy, known as the most beautiful woman of ancient Greek culture, is the catalyst for the Trojan War. As such, she is the subject of both Edgar Allen Poe’s “To Helen” and H.D.’s “Helen”; however, their perceptions of Helen are opposites. Many poets and authors have written about Helen in regards to her beauty and her treacherous actions. There is a tremendous contrast between the views of Helen in both poems by Poe and Doolittle. The reader may ascertain the contrast in the speakers’ views of Helen through their incorporation of diction, imagery, and tone that help convey the meaning of the work. The diction and imagery prevalent within both poems by Poe and Doolittle help emphasize the extreme contrast between the speakers’ views of Helen. Poe, who chooses Helen as an allusion for his love Jane Stanard, portrays Helen with high admiration and regard through the incorporation of tremendous diction including the following: beauty, classic face, and statue-like. There is a simile that compares Helen’s beauty to “those Nicean barks of yore,” (2) which was a divine city near the city of Troy. Moreover, her “classic face” (7) further elucidates to her extreme beauty. Poe provides sensory elements to emphasize her physical beauty i.e. hyacinth, a bold smelling flower. The speaker noting Helen as “statue-like” serves as a way to say her beauty will last forever, seeing her as perfection. Furthermore, Helen is compared to Psyche, who was turned a goddess by her beauty that infatuated Cupid. Helen’s beauty is as brilliant as the “grandeur” (10) of Rome and to compare to even Psyche. However, H.D.’s “Helen” depicts Helen as a more sinister and vile ... ... middle of paper ... ...za changes from pure emotion to an act on that emotion. The feeling is no longer a mental feeling, but an emotion that dictates them to become more physical. The tone is no longer vindictive but is very neutral; the speaker’s view of Helen has changed from disgust to solely desiring repentance. Through the incorporation of tone, the readers may deduce the speaker’s views of Helen. Due to Helen of Troy being both notorious for her incomparable beauty and treacherous actions in the ancient world, the contradictions in diction, imagery, and authors tone create a strong contrast in the speaker’s views of Helen. One may determine that the speakers’ views of Helen are formed through the implementing of strong diction and tone. In addition, the literary elements were used as an instrument to express and unravel the darkness that lies behind the curtains of perfection.
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