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Analysis

Annabel Lee

Symbol Analysis

She's the one. She's the reason for the poem and she's clearly the only thing our speaker can think about. She was young and beautiful and one half of the perfect couple. But even though Poe tells us all that, we don't learn very much about Annabel. She doesn't talk, we don't hear what color her hair was, or how tall she was or anything like that. If you have a picture in your head of Annabel Lee, it's because you made it up. No detail is given here. Because of that, we think she's meant to be a symbol of impossible, pure beauty and love. In fact, she seems a little too good to be true.

  • Line 4: Here's our first introduction to Annabel. There are a couple of things worth noticing about the way she pops up here. First, we learn that she's a "maiden," which fits really well with all this business about the kingdom. Second, he says that she's a maiden "whom you may know." That pulls us in and almost makes her seem famous and a little bit unreal. Again, she seems more like a fantasy or a fairy-tale character than a real girl. Lastly, he says that she has "no other thought" than loving him. That would be sort sad if it was true, but we suspect that the speaker is fooling himself with this poetic exaggeration (or hyperbole).
  • Line 26: At the beginning of the poem, the memories of Annabel are all sweetness and beauty. Then, things begin to change, and the memory of her death creeps in. The image in this line is particularly strong. When he talks about the wind "chilling" Annabel, we can almost feel the coldness of her body as life slips away. Then the speaker rhymes that word with "killing," which is the harshest mention of death in the entire poem.
  • Line 33: The last three times he mentions Annabel, it's in this repeated line: "Of the beautiful Annabel Lee." It's another refrain, in a poem that's full of them. In these sad last lines, her name becomes almost like an echo, as the speaker builds up into his last cry of despair in line 39. Her name finally becomes like the words of a spell that he's saying over and over again to try to bring her back.

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