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The Bells
The Bells
by Edgar Allan Poe

Speaker Point of View

Who is the speaker, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

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 wondering "Is this guy even sane? Can we trust him?" Nope, this guy isn't freaky, delusional, or ranting about a lost lover. Actually, he's kind of personality-less. He's not talking to us about himself or speaking in the first-person (there's no "while I pondered, weak and weary" – there's no "I" at all).

Hmm… so what's the deal with this speaker? It's not really clear. We have to dig around and look for clues. Here are a few things we notice:

  • He likes the nighttime. All for sections of the poem take place at night.
  • He pays a lot of attention to small details. How much time do you spend thinking about the sounds and meaning of different bells?
  • He really likes sounds. Notice how he picks up on the subtleties of all sorts of sounds and tries to recreate them with words?
  • He likes sharing sounds with us. Did you notice how, at the beginning of each section he says "Hear the [insert description] bells"? He wants us to join in the experience.

We can't say much more about the guy. Are you able to find any other clues?

Next Page: Setting
Previous Page: Form and Meter

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