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Eleonora. Edgar Allan Poe. Basics. First published in 1842 Published in the literary annual The Gift Usually seen to be autobiographical One of the few stories written by Poe with a relatively ‘happy’ ending. Plot. The story follows an unnamed narrator.

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Edgar Allan Poe

  • First published in 1842
  • Published in the literary annual The Gift
  • Usually seen to be autobiographical
  • One of the few stories written by Poe with a relatively ‘happy’ ending
  • The story follows an unnamed narrator.
  • The narrator lives with his cousin and aunt in a valley he refers to as “The Valley of the Many-Colored Grass.”
  • After living together for 15 years “love enters” the hearts of the narrator and his cousin, Eleonora.
plot continued
Plot continued…
  • They are happy in their love for one another. (Descriptions of the valley reflect this.)
  • Eleonora is sick.
  • Eleonora does not fear her death but asks the narrator to make her a promise- he will not bind himself in marriage to “any daughter on Earth” (any other woman).
plot continued1
Plot continued…
  • After Eleonora’s death the narrator feels dissatisfied with his life within the valley so moves to a “strange city.”
  • He meets a woman called Ermengarde and marries her.
  • Eleonora’s spirit visits the narrator and blesses the union, absolving the narrator of his promise to her.
how is this autobiographical
How is this autobiographical?

Poe was thought to be expressing his feelings of guilt as he was considering other women to love.

At the time in which Poe wrote this short story he was married to his cousin, Virginia, who had begun to show signs of illness.

  • If this is autobiographical, the abrupt ending seems to be unconvincing. Poe himself noted that the tale was not “ended so well as it might be.” So, why not change the ending?
  • The ending is very vague with the reason for Eleonora’s absolving the narrator from his promise being something he will discover once he is in Heaven.
  • The story, while not being your typical ‘happy’ ending is one free of remorse, guilt or resentment- why? Consider the autobiographical nature.
  • Our narrator starts by admitting to madness at the beginning of the story. Does he seem mad? Why or why not?
  • Consider the descriptions of the landscape which changes with his love for Eleonora and again with her death- does the narrator’s declaration of madness excuse his excessive description?
  • The story is unclear as to why the family live in isolation.
  • It is possible that the isolation is the reason for the narrator’s love for Eleonora. It is an incestuous relationship
  • What happens to the aunt?
  • Which relationship seems more realistic? More likely to last? Why?
  • Passionate love versus married love?
  • Eleonora is a young, passive woman who is devoted to her lover.
  • Her only fear in life is that the narrator move on to another woman.
  • After her death and the narrator’s remarriage she absolves the narrator of any guilt.
  • She is a fairly typical feminine character for Poe- her character traits and visit from beyond the grave.
  • The original publication named the narrator Pyrros. The name implies passion and fire.
  • In 1845 Poe added the opening epigraph, a quote from Raymond Lull which translates to:
    • Under the protection of a specific form, my soul is safe.

The term ‘Valley of the Many-Colored Grass’ was inspired by “Adonais” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The poem was a 495 line, 55 stanza poem which mourns the loss of poet John Keats in 1821.

  • Keats’ poetry was characterised by sensual imagery similar to that used by Poe in Eleonora.
  • ardor=Extreme energy or vigor. Sexual excitement.
  • Ineffable= Indescribable. Incapable of being expressed in words.
  • Mare Tenebrarum="Sea of Darkness”
  • Oedipus= destined to marry his mother and kill his father.

Beetling= projecting, jutting out.

  • Asphodel= Various Old World usually perennial herbs of the lily family with flowers in usually long erect racemes.
  • Lustrum= A period of five years. A purification of the whole Roman people made in ancient times after the census every five years.
  • Eros= Greek god of love, where the word “erotic” comes from. Also, love conceived in the philosophy of Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element.

Aeolus= The Greek god of the winds.

  • Hesper= The Hesperides were the Greek goddesses of evening or sunset. They are tied to their imagined location in the distant west, and Hesperis is the personification of the evening. The “Garden of the Hesperides” is Hera’s orchard in the west, where either a single tree or a grove of immortality-giving golden apples grew.

Seraphim= An order of angels; The six-winged angels standing in the presence of God.

  • Ephemeron= something short-lived or of no lasting significance.
  • Helusion= Paradise.
  • http://voicesinthedark.com/content.php?iContent=284