If love is the champion theme in "Annabel Lee," then mortality definitely comes in a close second. The speaker is obsessed with how and why Annabel died. He wants to know who he can blame for it. At the same time, the themes of death and love are tied together. The poem forces us to ask whether death is the end and has the power to kill love or whether, in fact love can triumph and continue after death. Maybe the speaker takes that idea a little more literally than he should, but that's his business. In a general way, we can all relate to the ideas of grief and loss and fate that come up when you talk about death.
Questions About Mortality
- Do you think the speaker of this poem believes in life after death? Does that question matter in the context of "Annabel Lee."
- Why do you think he has to blame the jealous angels for Annabel's death?
- How do you draw the line between healthy and unhealthy grief? Do you think this poem has something to say about that difference?
- Would you want to be remembered like this by your boyfriend or girlfriend?
Chew on This
Poe's portrait of excessive grief shows us the consequences of refusing to accept death as a fact of life.
Poetry becomes a tool which the speaker can use to transcend death. This poem offers a way of keeping his beloved Annabel alive.