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POE'S SIREN: CHARACTER AND MEANING IN "LIGEIA"
Transcript of POE'S SIREN: CHARACTER AND MEANING IN "LIGEIA"
By: Daryl E. Jones
Sirens in Greek mythology
In Greek mythology, sirens were creatures of incredible beauty who sang to mariners and lured them to shipwreck and to death.
Similarities and supernatural qualities
Three names of the sirens are Parthenope, Leucosia, and Ligeia.
Sirens are capable of reincarnation
After supposed to have been killed after being conquered by Odysseus and Orpheus, they re-appear in literature centuries later along the Rhine known as the "loreli".
Agents of Spiritual Destruction
Physical traits similar to that of a bird.
-Black eyes=birds eyes.
Guide dead to underworld
-"In the classical tongues she was deeply proficient.." (p.63)
- her family is of a "remote and ancient date"
-the narrator never knew her paternal name
-"by the almost magical
melody, modulation, distinctness and placidity of her low, sweet, voice." (p.66)
-references to her voice being low and "musical"
Her rare and immense knowledge and learning
her struggle with death the narrator over hears her muttering "wild words"
why did she die?
She has given up her will and purpose to kill and destroy, and subverts herself to mortal love and passion.
Reincarnation through the body of Rowena, Jones says is a "second chance" for her to fulfill her purpose.
Jones suggests that when she possesses Rowena, it shows her strength of will to live and predicts this time "she will not fail her mission"
duality in the epigraph of the story.
- it compliments Ligeia`s situation in yielding death and is ironic anticipation of the narrators fate.
tale explores the paradoixical nature of the will.
-Ligeias strength of will to triumph over death / her weakness to abandon herself to mortal love.
-the narrators weakness of will to fall prey to Ligeia.
Jones, D. E. (1983). POE'S SIREN: CHARACTER AND MEANING IN "LIGEIA". Studies In Short Fiction, 20(1), 33.