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Silence -- A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe
Transcript of Silence -- A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe
"Listen to me" says the Demon to the narrator
The Demon is going to tell a story
He begins... Story takes place in a dreary region of Libya, near the Zaire (Congo) River
There is no quiet/silence here
The waters of the river are red, constantly running. Along both sides of the river is a desert of big water-lilies
Nodding back and forth, "indistinct murmur", "sigh" coming from the lilies
Beyond the river is the dark, horrible forest. Tall trees never stop moving or making sound
Grey clouds constantly moving
No wind throughout the heaven
NEITHER QUIET NOR SILENT Night, "Rain fell, and falling it was rain, but having fallen, it was blood"
The moon arose, crimson in color. The Demon looked at a huge grey rock near the shore of the river
He walked over to the rock, the moon shone brighter red, and engraved on it was "Desolation"
He looked up, and on top of the huge rock was a man
The Demon hid to observe the actions of the man
The man was dressed in the toga of old Rome. Features of a deity
sat on the rock, looking out into the desolation
trembled in the solitude, but he remained. The man looked out onto the landscape, observing all of the sounds. The Demon wanted to get a reaction out of the man
1. He called upon the hippopotami and behemoth (elephants)
-They went to the foot of the rock and roared loudly/fearfully
- The man trembled in the solitude, but remained
2. Then the Demon cursed the surroundings with
a violent, windy storm
- Chaos overwhelmed the landscape. Thunder/lighting
- The man trembled in the solitude, but remained
3. The Demon grew angry, and cursed the surroundings with silence
- Everything became still and quiet
- The characters upon the rock changed to "Silence"
- The man was filled with terror. He stood from the rock and listened, but there was no sound.
- The man shuddered and fled in haste The narrator says that this story the Demon tells him is the most wonderful tale of all
They are in a tomb
As the Demon finishes his story, he laughs, but the narrator can not join him
The lynx which dwells in the tomb lays down at the feet of the Demon and looks him in the face as the Demon continues to laugh Analysis The landscape represents chaos
blood-red sun, saffron-colored, pulsating river, rain that turns to blood, poisonous flowers
Never silence or stillness
The man is drawn to chaos, sitting on a rock that reads "Desolation", facing a horrifying scene
Only when chaos is completely removed does he find himself unnerved, terrified of the nothingness around him
Humans have an affinity for chaos
The Demon is also a symbol for chaos
The lynx sitting at his feet, staring into his eyes while he laughs is a parallel with the man staring out into the landscape with the chaos
This animal, which represents nature, sits at the feet of chaos. Nature in and of itself is chaotic
Without chaos, there is nothing. We are afraid of this silence Humanity's affinity for chaos may regard humanity's inability to cope with itself without chaos or distraction
In silence, we are left alone with our thoughts. This may scare us. We use chaos as a distraction. Or, this may also symbolize that without chaos surrounding us, without its distraction, we are forced to focus on what we have contributed to the world.
The man may have been forced to recognize his own emptiness in the absence of chaos, because he did not contribute to the chaos; he simply watched
Just as the man contributes nothing, the narrator in the tomb is unable to laugh with the Demon, perhaps because he is also empty
We are empty without chaos and nature Relevance Written in 1838, this story precedes many of the hardships that Poe deals with in his life. Although it is relevant to his life before being written, it is more relatable if applied after. Poe Poe, to deal with all of the troubles and pain in his life (the death of most of his family and loved ones, especially his wife), instead of mentally coping with it peacefully and with self-reflection, got involved with drugs and alcohol (and women), heavily.
Instead of the "silence" of mentally dealing with the situations, he became involved in chaotic activities that distracted him. He may have felt that his own feelings and thoughts were too strong (silence), that he needed an outside force (drugs; chaos) to take his mind off his problems Me Most people, especially teens, can relate to the fact that when we are left alone with our thoughts, in silence, we think... a LOT.
Sometimes, we don't like being alone with our thoughts. They can become too intense or deep, and have the ability to drive us crazy.
I think everyone can relate to those nights when you can't sleep and you're mind is racing with thoughts of any and everything possible.
We have no way to escape our thoughts except by preoccupying our minds with other things
It is as if we preoccupy ourselves with chaotic activities in order to clear our mind or prevent chaotic thoughts.
chaotic surroundings, clear head (or distracted, at least)
peaceful surroundings, racing mind Credits: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-silence.htm