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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Gothic Undercurrents

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•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Edgar Allan Poe - Author Questions

Back Back to Edgar Allan Poe Activities
  1. Comprehension: Does "Ligeia" represent supernatural events? What difference does your answer make to our understanding of the story?

  2. Comprehension: How does the setting of "Ligeia" affect your understanding of the story?

  3. Context: In an essay about composing literature, Poe wrote the following: "the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world--and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover." What do you think he meant by this? How does "Ligeia" fit into this philosophy of literature? Consider how the narrator describes Ligeia, how he feels and what he thinks about her: what does the story suggest about the proper roles or characteristics of men and women? How is Ligeia like and unlike the ideal woman as conceived by adherents of the cult of true womanhood?

  4. Exploration: The narrator is unsure about many things in "Ligeia," including when and where he met Ligeia, her last name, and whether he is mad. In fact, it is possible to say that the story is about uncertainty: "Not the more could I define that sentiment, or analyze, or even steadily view it," says the narrator at one point. How does Poe explore the dilemma of ambiguity in "Ligeia"? What does he seem to be saying about the mind's attempt to establish certainty?

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