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Religious Allusions In Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee

Decent Essays

Edgar Allan Poe has a way with the pen that immediately alerts the reader that he or she is reading his work. Upon initial study of “Annabel Lee,” the reader will judge it a typical Poe because it laments the death of a young woman, a theme pervasive not only throughout Poe’s work but also throughout his life. However, this poem reads less as a tribute to a real woman and more as a representation of a martyr dying for a holy love. Poe uses religious allusion to frame his subject in this manner. Poe also uses alliteration, internal rhyme, and repetition in order to further contribute to the effects established through his religious allusions.
Through use of religious allusions to seraphs and angels, the speaker renders Annabel Lee as a martyr murdered by devilish creatures. In many sects of Christianity, followers believe that Jesus was a sacrifice or a martyr for human atonement, sent of God’s love for man. Poe’s use of the word “seraphs” is particularly important because in Christianity, seraphs are the highest order of spiritual beings and directly serve God. However, the speaker claims that “wingèd seraphs” coveted Annabel Lee and him, which is a sin according to the Biblical “Ten Commandments” (Poe 11-12, Exodus 20:17). Furthermore, the speaker then asserts that angels “went envying” the lovers; envy is one of the seven deadly sins (Poe 21-22). By accusing divine creatures like seraphs and angels of sinning, the speaker reminds the reader of the Christian belief that

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