The Raven and Ligeia a comparison

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The Raven and Ligeia a comparison

Although the two tales are presented in different literary forms the

tales themselves deal with remarkably similar subject matter. So much

so that it is possible to compare the style of each with but a little

reference to the general themes of the two works.

The Raven and Ligeia are both about loss. The narrators of both tales

have lost the dearest thing to them, a woman of incomparable talents

and beauty. That the loss of this woman has happened for different

reasons does not matter for it is how this loss manifests itself in

the lives of the narrators that provide the drama and the poignancy of

the stories. In each we discover the narrator is dwelling upon that

woman that he adored and in each we find the peculiar way in which

they deal with this.

In the Raven a man sits alone in his chamber reading ancient tomes

trying desperately to keep his mind from thoughts of his lost Lenore.

But he hears the sounds from without the chamber that could be perhaps

the ghost of his beloved. It is this irrational hope and fear that the

bounds of death can somehow be transcended and that he might once more

speak with his love that begins to lead to his irrational behaviour.

When the titular Raven makes it's appearance the narrator is worked

into such a fever of imagination guilt and fear that he perceives the

bird as some emissary from beyond. So it is that it's constant

repetition of "nevermore" are taken as both confirmation that the

spirit of Lenore lives on and denial of him to ever speak to her

again. The narrator leaves us still locked with the bird projecting

upon it his own feelings of self-loathing and hate.

Ligeia on the other hand is a statelier version of the narrat...

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...e thing he identifies with in

his current situation. When after the raven appears to have refuted

his fantasy of Lenore he finds that he hates the raven as an extension

of himself and perhaps the raven is nothing more than the narrators

metaphor for himself or at least some darker aspect of his mind.

The main difference between the two tales is that while Ligeia is

couched in very descriptive prose the Raven makes much more use of

metaphor. That said the style of the poem is very much that of a

rhyming tale and as such is also similar to the prose structure of the

short story. In conclusion it should be noted that both are excellent

attempts to tackle a difficult and provocative subject and they manage

this in two similar but unique ways. It is the similarity, which lends

them both power and the stylistic differences that mark them as being


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