Document Type


Date of Award



School of Communication (SOC)

Degree Name

MA in English

First Advisor

Professor Shirley W. Moore


Tentative Title: Supernatural: The Juxtaposition of Sensuality and the Macabre in Edgar Allan Poe's "Ligeia." 2. Objectives: To determine Edgar Allan Poe's purpose for creating the tragic death of a beautiful heroine in order to achieve the metaphysical quality of his work. 3. Status of the Question: Poe has long been renowned for having believed that there is nothing more romantic than the death of a beautiful woman; with that in mind, Poe creates Ligeia, a character whose beauty transcends her morbid death. Whereas Poe pairs the two popular Victorian themes of beauty and death, he appears to do so only to lay the foundation for the supernatural climax of his tale. The research involved in determining Poe's purpose for his thematic use of sensuality and the macabre: 1 2 Primary Sources: -Poe, Edgar Allan. "Ligeia." The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Random House, 1944. In this story, Poe portrays a woman who is summoned from the grave by her grieving husband's love. -Halliburton, David. Edgar Allan Poe: A Phenomenological View. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973. In this work, Halliburton dissects the works of Poe into minute spiritual, psychological, and physiological elements. -Levin, Harry. The Power of Blackness. New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 1967. This work analyzes the Gothic element of 19th century American Literature. Levin Examines in depth the tones of horror in Poe's works, while illustrating the writers influence on fantasy and horror fiction. -Whalen, Terence. Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: The Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999. In this text, Whalen examines how Poe's writings reflect the culture and economy of his age. Secondary Sources: -Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Fall of the House of Usher." The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Random House, 1944. In this story, Poe writes of the mysterious relationship between a brother and sister, and the torture that the sister endures. -Walker, I. M., ed. Edgar Allan Poe: The Critical Heritage. London: Rautledge & Kegan 3 Paul, 1986. This work is a collection of critical essays on Poe's works by his contemporaries. -Walsh, John Evangelist. A Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. London: Rutgers University Press, 1999. In this text, Walsh examines the various theories surrounding Poe's unsolved demise. 4. Proposed Procedure: The research proposed will demonstrate that while Poe employs the traditional Victorian themes of beauty and death in "Ligeia," those themes are ultimately sub-themes because the dominant theme appears to be reincarnation. S. Discussion: The theme of reincarnation in "Ligeia" classically exemplifies the idea that love conquers all, even death. In "Ligeia," Poe creates the ideal woman and a husband who worships her. While Ligeia, the central character is in the throes of death, her husband cares for her; however, after her death he is consumed by memories of her. It is said that every thought is a prayer. In his obsession the narrator wills his dead wife back to life. The research will conclude that beauty and death are used to excite attraction an sympathy. The larger context of "Ligeia" is a concern with the supernatural, and man's ability to alter his circumstances by way of his desire