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poe s recurring themes symbols and motifs


Poe’s Recurring Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

EyesOne of his most common motifs.Can be referred to as “orb”Eyes considered to be window to the soulHeartHeart is important as both the physical “pump” of the body & as center of all feeling and experienceAs Romantic (literary movement) Poe places greater emphasis on the HEART (representing emotion and experience) than on HEAD (representing intellect, rational thought, and scientific reasoning)Unnamed NarratorUnnamed narrator frequently tells stories (narrator not meant to represent Poe)Lack of specific identity gives him an EVERYMAN quality

Premature Burial/Suffocation2 concepts linked—“Life-in-death” themethe idea of being enclosed with the dead while still part of the livingVortexImage and action of a spinning, swirling whirlpool that cycles like water down a drainEx. When a character is walking down a spiral or circular staircase, or being swallowed up by an angry, swirling sea

poe s recurring themes symbols and motifs2
Poe’s Recurring Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

Dreams/DreamingDreams are the porthole into the inner workings of the mindPoe’s narrator’s and characters often talk about the subconscious dream state (Do they dream to remember or dream to forget?)They may awaken from dreams and question whether they are awake or notThey may even seem to exist in an eternal dream-like stateRarely are dreams soothing or pleasantTwo Sides of OneselfDuality of man (man is both good and evil, light and dark can be contained in same person)“Mirror” Image (the double or look-alike stranger)“Twin” characters (separate yet inseparable)Doppleganger—the motif of the double or fractured image fairly common to literatureTime/ClocksMany of his stories are set in ambiguous times and places, making them universal and contemporary to the reader of any eraPoe frequently uses HOURS and times of day (especially 3:00, 6:00, 9:00 and 12:00)Uses direct and subtle references to TIME or CLOCKSEvents often begin at dusk and end with daybreak“The witching hour” of 12 midnightAnimalsRepetition of certain types of characters—black cats, black ravens, and apes—orangutans or ourang-outangsNarrator may “lead” the reader into thinking such an animal is innately evil or has magical powers—reader has to determine based on behavior of the animal whether this is true or if narrator is just projecting his own beliefs onto the animal.