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Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee is a poem composed by Edgar Allan Poe, an American author. Similar to a majority of poems authored by Poe, the poem analyzes the theme of love and death. The narrator falls deeply in love with Annabel Lee. The love grows so strong that even the angels become jealous of the couple. Unfortunately, death strikes and kills Annabel Lee. However, the narrator’s love for Annabel Lee is so intense; he believes that their souls are entwined even after the death of Annabel Lee. Critics of Poe’s works believe that the poem was written with reference to Virginia Clemm, Poe’s deceased wife. Clemm had died from tuberculosis before attaining full womanhood. The poem is full of symbols of life and death. The two themes of love and death are interwoven in symbolism. A critical review of symbolism as used in the poem would be an efficient way of understanding the poem.

It can be anticipated that Virginia Clemm was the real Annabel Lee. However, Annabel Lee could also have been a fictional character developed by Poe. Annabel Lee is the main character mentioned in the poem. However, the author of the poem does not offer the reader any description of Annabel Lee. Thus, it can be argued that Annabel Lee is used as a symbol of exceptional, pure, and tender love. The author’s description of Annabel Lee evokes innocence, purity, and childlike character. These may have been some of the characteristics possessed by Clemm. Poe was an urchin and a drunkard who had a cruel childhood. Marrying Clemm, a young and sickly girl, may have portrayed his undying ideal, and a longing to find love and innocence in a woman. Annabel Lee symbolized this ideal notion. Symbolically, it can be concluded that Virginia Clemm was the real Annabel Lee. Consequently, Virginia Clemm was Poe’s only true love.

The sea is reflected as being large, lonely, emptiness, and cold. It depicts the emptiness and desolation of they author after losing Annabel Lee. Annabel lived by the sea; he death leaves a form of emptiness in the kingdom by the sea. In line 31 of the poem, the author states that the sea is full of demons that want to tear them apart. This increases the intensity of the image of the sea as a place that is filled with demons. Normally, demons reside underground and the poem the demons live under the sea. This makes the sea a scary and lonely place. Normally, a tomb is a lonely place. In the poem, Annabel’s tomb is beside the sea. Thus, the sea is depicted as a lonely place. The last line of the poem ends with the word sea; it sums up the entire poem and leaves a haunting image of the sea as an open and lonely place.  

Commencing from the first line, the poem makes reference to the sea. It acts as the most significant symbol in the entire poem. It is mentioned repeatedly and we imagine the sea being a cold and lonely place. The sea depicts the narrator’s emptiness after losing Annabel Lee. Additionally, the sea is used to symbolize the narrator’s memory. The first line of the poem shows that Annabel Lee died many years ago. However, the sea speaks of the undying memories of love. In all the succeeding stanzas, the “kingdom by the sea” is used to symbolize the things that happened in the distance past. In the second stanza, Poe states that they were both children in the kingdom by the sea. Poe authored the poem as an adult. Thus, the sea is used to depict the narrator’s unfading reminiscence of Annabel Lee. The narrator seems to imply that even the loss of pain and death cannot erase the memories of Annabel Lee. The poem ends with the narrator sitting besides Annabel Lee sepulcher by the sea. The narrator’s undying love for Annabel Lee could be interpreted to symbolize Poe’s undying love for Clemm.

The poem illustrates the narrators love for Annabel Lee that seems too strong to be true. The love is described as being divine and undying; even the angels were jealous of the couple. The jealous of the angels is used to depict the extent of the couples love for each other. The narrator blames the death of Annabel Lee on the “winged seraphs” and the “high-born kinsmen.” The two beings may have been used to symbolize the angels and God respectively. The narrator does not explain the cause of jealous by the angels. Thus, it can be interpreted to symbolize the fact that Poe did not accept the premature death of his wife. He resorts to blaming the angels of heaven and God for his wife’s premature death.   

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