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by Edgar Allan Poe

Ligeia Theme of Mortality

In "Ligeia," death is never the end. Right from the start we're forced to consider that, though dying is probably the end, there's a small possibility that people can overcome it and return to life. Poe asks us to consider it again and again as we see Glanvill's hopeful quote repeated and read Ligeia's bleak poem, "The Conqueror Worm." By the end of the story, we're so primed to see the controversy resolved. Ultimately, Ligeia triumphs over death, takes over Lady Rowena's body, and comes back to life – or seems to, anyway.

Questions About Mortality

  1. At story's end, has the Conqueror Worm definitely been conquered?
  2. If death only comes because humans have a weak will, what does that say about humans? Are we just not trying hard enough?
  3. Why the "Conqueror Worm" in the first place? Why not a more traditional representation of death?

Chew on This

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

In "Ligeia," Poe suggests that death is not, under all circumstances, final; rather, it's a process that can be fought and, given the right person, reversed.

Though Ligeia's rise from the dead may seem to back up Glanvill's assertion about man's "feeble will," the narrator's cloudy perceptions leave us to question whether the battle against death really has been won.

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