The Raven and Ligeia a comparison Essay

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The Raven and Ligeia a comparison

Although the two tales are presented in different literary forms the tales themselves deal with remarkably similar subject matter. So much so that it is possible to compare the style of each with but a little reference to the general themes of the two works.

The Raven and Ligeia are both about loss. The narrators of both tales have lost the dearest thing to them, a woman of incomparable talents and beauty. That the loss of this woman has happened for different reasons does not matter for it is how this loss manifests itself in the lives of the narrators that provide the drama and the poignancy of the stories. In each we discover the narrator is dwelling upon that woman that he adored and in
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Her insistence that "Man doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will." Is the most important of these cryptic and morbid musing of the ladies deathbed. So it is that after he has moved from the country of their romance and residence he is still so obsessed with her that he makes his new home in an old abandoned abbey and even goes so far as to decorate his bedroom with the mortuary artefacts of several eastern cultures. It is not until his second, and neglected, wife takes ill that these morbid fascinations take full root. Through the veils of an opiate stupor he begins to imagine some supernatural agency that only he has perceived to be responsible for the final demise of his current wife. And after the death he begins to imagine a reviving of the corpse where in the end just as the dawn approaches he beholds his beloved Ligeia returned to him.

So it is that the main themes in both of these works are those of obsession, death and the guilt of the survivor. How each approaches this and evokes the mood in the reader is remarkably different.

In Ligeia the narrator begins his tale in a crumbling city on the
Rhine, immediately evoking thoughts of the old world, this is emphasised almost straight away as he describes his departed love. He compares her with the goddesses of the
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