The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allen Poe

The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allen Poe

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The Conqueror Worm


To understand the type of worm referred to in "The Conqueror Worm," by Edgar Allen Poe, we must first analyze the poem. It is actually a play for the muses:
That the play is the tragedy "Man"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm
The everyday death of man is a show for the angels. Our hero worm represents death and people are the actors. The worm of death is from the Phylum Nematoda. Many roundworms cause diseases in humans, which can lead to death. I have, however, reason to believe this is actually the blood fluke, Schistosoma of the Class Trematoda in Phylum Platyhelminthes.
A crawling shape intrude
The blood red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude
The first line tells us the worm is motile. Poe is an artist and not a biologist. This is why we don't expect him to know the difference between crawling and the movement of the schistosoma larva. "The blood red thing" is an obvious reference to its common name, the blood fluke, as well as the blood red color observable under a microscope. "The scenic solitude" directly speaks of the play, but indirectly refers to the fact that this particular worm has not copulated with a female worm yet and therefore is alone, as one in solitude would be.
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued
The "vermin" is actually the metabolically active epicuticle and the "fangs" are actually suckers. There are two to be exact, one oral and one ventral. Once again, we don't expect a poet to know the biological difference between fangs and suckers. "In human gore imbued" is a reference to the parasitic nature of this Trematode when it attaches itself to the "human gore" known as liver, spleen, bladder, or other organs.

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The conqueror worm is obviously a parasitic flatworm from Phylum Platyhelminthes. Our hero worm represents death/parasitism and people are the actors/hosts. It infects more than 200 million people, so Schistosoma can still be considered the worm of death. The description of the suckers, the blood red color, the motile ability, the possibility of copulation, the parasitic qualities and the digestive epicuticle are all characteristics of Schistosoma.
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