Comparing Ligeia And Rowena In Poe's Liigeia

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The mirroring of Ligeia and Rowena in Edgar AIlan Poe's "Ligeia" is more than a technique used to give symmetry and balance. The two women become emblems of the real and the fantastical, serving as guides to the narrator. Ligeia, then, embodies the dark, beautifully macabre dream world as perceived by the opium-laden narrator. Rowena must then act as an anchor to reality; a world so mundane that the narrator drives himself to insanity trying to avoid. In order to illustrate the surreal quality of Ligeia and the anchoring quality of Rowena, they must be established within their respective realms of reality and dream. In establishing the symbolism of these two women, it may be possible to see how these characters are able to interact with and push the narrator to the extremes of disillusion we see throughout the…show more content…
She epitomizes the very things of which dreams, or nightmares, are made. An intense and intelligent woman, Ligeia leaves a lasting impression on the narrator. However, the story begins in a very odd manner. The narrator admits, “I cannot for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia” (Poe). This immediately casts doubt onto the reliability of our narrator, but more importantly, creates an immediate interest in the reader. The narrator seems to recognize the odd nature of his opening line and cites a “feeble” memory recalling how Ligeia “steadily and stealthily” captured his heart. The narrator gives us a vague description referencing her “placid cast of beauty” and the “eloquence of her low musical language” (Poe). Here things slip into the beginnings of strangeness. He mentions never even knowing her “paternal” name (Poe). The narrator himself laments on this topic, but such emphatic declarations of innocence only highlight the absurdity. Ligeia remains a mystery, odd to both the narrator and the reader

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