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The Bells

The Bells

by Edgar Allan Poe

Fear Theme

This theme doesn't show up at all until the third section of "The Bells." From that point on, though, it really takes over. Poe explores the sounds and the feelings of fear. He uses all kinds of words to explore the different ways that people can be scared. He spends a lot of time dealing with these kinds of dark emotions, which makes sense because he's definitely one of the grandfathers of the horror genre.

Questions About Fear

  • Do you think fear takes over completely in this poem? Is the ending hopeless?
  • Is fear a more important part of section three or section four? What's the difference in feeling between these two parts of the poem?
  • Is the night a scary thing in this poem?
  • Do you think "The Bells" is scary? If so, what's the single scariest part, in your opinion?
  • Are there any frightening moments in the first two stanzas of the poem, or is all of the darkness found in the second half?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"The Bells" is about the careful balance between terror and joy. The two emotions are intertwined in the poem, and they can never be fully separated.

The poem's speaker slowly draws us down into a nightmare of insanity and fear, from which we are unable to escape.

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