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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

MeterFor the most part, Poe uses a kind of meter in this poem that we call "trochaic." That means that the poem is made up of pairs of syllables, with the first syllable in each pair being emphasiz...

Speaker

Unlike in lots of other Poe poems (we're thinking of "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," and "Dream-Land," in particular), speaker of "The Bells" doesn't have a strong presence. We're not finding ourselves...

Setting

As we said in our section on the "Speaker," we don't know much about our speaker, but it's clear that he likes to be out and about at night. Every section of the poem, whether cheerful or creepy, t...

Sound Check

Poe plays all the notes he can in "The Bells," from shrill little piccolo tweets in the first section to bass drum booms at the end. Each part of the poem has its own distinct sounds, like differe...

What's Up With the Title?

Poe's titles are usually pretty straightforward, and this one definitely is. The whole poem is a riff on the idea of bells. The speaker describes how they sound, how they make us feel, and the time...

Calling Card

One of the best ways to know you're reading a Poe poem is to look for spooky, scary, melancholy imagery. Poe is one of the first American masters of horror, and almost all his work deals with fear,...

Tough-o-Meter

Poe throws some fancy and tricky words in here, like he always does. But the thing that matters most in this poem is the sound of the words, not their meaning, so even if the words are a bit unfami...

Trivia

The biggest bell in the world weighs more than 200 tons. Unfortunately, it broke before it was ever rung (source).John Cusack has been cast as Poe in an upcoming movie, set to come out in 2012 (sou...

Steaminess Rating

No steaminess here – at all. In fact, there's not even any pining for a long-lost love, which makes it unusual for Poe.
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