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The Raven and Ligeia a comparison.

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Introduction

The Raven and Ligeia a comparison By Rory MacPherson 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. ...read more.

Middle

He compares her with the goddesses of the ancient world even borrowing from the Elizabethan poet Bacon, all of which again serves to conjure this idea of an ancient ageless and powerful woman. As he continues to describe her attributes it becomes almost inconceivable to the reader that such a unique person should die so suddenly and without recourse. This lends weight to the narrators' later despair, as the reader has been well primed for the void that has been left in his life. It helps the reader to sympathise that he has lost this wonderful figure who was so much a part of him that he cannot remember the specific instances of their meeting, almost as if they had always been together. In the Raven this gradual building to the eventual loss has been forgone and instead we join the narrator some time after the fact of his loss. We are shown the depth of his distraction and unhappiness, as he is up late pondering "weak and weary," It is when he hears the tapping "as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door" that we begin to divine that all is not well with him. As he ignores the sound the next stanza reveals how it has revived him from his study and brought his mind back to the departed Lenore. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is not until the arrival of the raven that he can even voice his most desperate and secret hope. The Raven becomes the vehicle for his fantasy both in the first the hope of resurrection and finally after it has made its repeated pronouncement of "nevermore" it becomes the hated bearer of comfortless certainty. The poem focuses on the narrators' reaction to the bird, as it becomes increasingly the 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 exceptional. ...read more.

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