In the story of Berenice, she is the protagonist in the story of the same name. Poe’s narrator is Egaeus, Berenice’s cousin, to whom she is engaged to marry. As this story begins Poe has the narrator describe Berenice in comparison to himself. The reader is able to begin to visualize Berenice as a child with these lengthily comparisons. The narrator Eageus, begins by saying that although they grew up together there childhood was very different when he says, “we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet differently we grew.” (Wordpress, 2012 p. 33) The narrator describes himself as a sick child confined indoors and Berenice as a child full of life, and unsuspecting of the illness that will eventually consume her life. This is seen in the following passage from, the Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe.
(Wordpress, 2012, p. 33) I, ill of health, and buried in gloom – she, agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; hers the ramble on the hill-side – mine the studies of the cloister; I, living within my own heart, and addicted, body and soul, to the most intense and painful medication – she, roaming carelessly through life, with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven- winged hours.
The reader finds out that Berenice suffers from catalepsy, a form of epilepsy that cause’s long periods of a trance like state. (Merriam-Webster, n.d.) The description of Berenice as a child helps the reader to understand that she is beautiful and carefree and has no idea that as a young adult she will become ill. (Wordpress, 2012)
Poe does not describe Berenice to the reader with specific physical detail as he does Ligeia. However, Poe’s use of comparative descriptions between hea...
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...m Eageus loved out of consequence, she was around when he was sick, and no one else was. However, he objectified her, piece by piece, and identified her in comparison to him self. In the end, although he doesn’t appear to love her, he still tries to hold onto a beautiful memory of her when he pulls out her teeth. This appears to be similar to most of the women in Poe’s life. They were beautiful women who were around because he needed them. Each woman is an attempt to fill an existing void, such as his foster mothers attempt to fill the void of his mother. Poe’s bevy of beauties, some of whom he becomes engaged, fill the void after his first wife, Virginia Clemm died. As each of them leave him, either by death or circumstance, he desperately tries to hold on to their memory, while continuing to search for what he truly wants, which is to be part of a family again.
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