, Research Paper
Edgar Allen Poe Short Stories EssayPoe creates a world where his characters live in darkness, with little hopeof happiness. Indeed, many of his characters have lost hope but are notaware of it, while others tell of their sorrow openly. “The Tell-TaleHeart,” “The Raven,” and “Annabel Lee” encompass both of these types ofcharacters. Consequently, as in most of Poe s literature, the characters in”The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Raven”, and “Annabel Lee” deal with despair andloss of hope as regularly as many of us deal with joy and satisfaction. Unlike Poe s other two pieces, the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” insistson proving his saneness to the reader even though he has completely lost hopeof ever achieving sensibility and reason. This suggests to the reader thathe is not aware of his own madness and the futility of his efforts to ridhimself of the “Evil Eye” (82) until he tears up the planks and admits thedeed to the two policemen. However, the reader knows of the narrator s lossof hope from the very beginning, when he states that he hears “all things inthe Heaven and in the earth . . . many things in hell” (81). He finallyrealizes he has lost hope when he conceives the idea that the two policemencan hear the beating of the heart. He admits the deed and pulls the planksup to show them “the beating of his hideous heart . . .” (84). On the otherhand, he may have lost hope because of the beating of the heart, which maynot go away until he admits the deed. Also, the beating of the old man sheart may just be the narrator s watch under his coat sleeve, suggested whenhe states that the old man s heart “was a low, dull, quick sound, such as awatch makes when enveloped in cotton” (84). The speaker cannot have too muchhope left for saneness if he believes his watch is a dead man s heart. One difference between the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and the speakerin “The Raven” is that the speaker in “The Raven” knows he has lost all hopeof forgetting his sorrows. One situation contributing to this fact is foundin the fifteenth stanza. When he asks the raven if there is relief for hissuffering, he receives a negative answer. This gives the reader the sensethat the speaker has lost all hope of relieving his sorrows. Anothersituation is found in the last stanza, which reads: “And the Raven, neverflitting, still is sitting, still is sitting” (103). This line suggests that
the raven, or a symbol of his sorrow, is still present, never going away,never even moving. In other words, it is saying that he has sorrow thatwill never disappear, or even waver the slightest bit. While these first twosituations are very important, the most important item in “The Raven”concerning the speaker s loss of hope is found in the sixteenth stanza,which states: “Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distantAidenn, / It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore- / . . . Quoth the Raven Nevermore ” (93,94,96). This stanza determines that thespeaker knows he will not see Lenore in “the distant Aidenn”, or Heaven. Therefore, he has no hope of anything to look forward to.Similar to the speaker in “The Raven,” the speaker in “Annabel Lee” knows hehas no hope of being with his love again. He believes the angels tookAnnabel away from him because they were jealous of the love between him andAnnabel. Because he concludes that the angels have taken Annabel away hecannot turn to them. This in itself would be enough for the speaker to losehope. Since the speaker is blaming God, would he turn to Him for comfort orrelief? Another reason the speaker may have lost all hope, although not asimportant, is the fact that she is buried in a tomb. This may make him feelfarther from her than he may actually be, which would explain why he sleepsby her grave. A third reason, which was not stated in the poem, but ispossible, is that if he believes that God took her away from him God willsend him to hell to keep the speaker away from her. This would give thespeaker no reason to live, since he was going to hell when he died anyway. These three reasons give ample evidence that the speaker in “Annabel Lee”has lost all hope.The narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and the speakers in “The Raven ” and”Annabel Lee” are driven into such a state of unhappiness that they have nohope for achieving joy or satisfaction ever again in their lifetimes. Theyare condemned to a life of sorrow and despair; therefore, it is more of alifestyle for Poe s characters than a part of life, as it is to most people. In conclusion, a life of despair and hopelessness is all the narrator in”The Tell-Tale Heart” and the speakers in “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” canhope for, which is essentially no hope at all. Poe, Edgar Allen. The Tale Heart, The Raven, Annabel Lee. ScribnerLiterature Series, vol. 3 (Understanding Literature). 1989, ScribnerLaidlaw.