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by Edgar Allan Poe

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

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

First Person (Central Narrator)

"Ligeia," like many of Poe's tales, is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator. This strategy gives Poe a lot of freedom when it comes to the storytelling: he can create a distinct voice and manipulate information in a way that he might not be able to with your usual impartial third-person narrator. In the case of "Ligeia," Poe has a lot of fun: his narrator has a bad memory, is addicted to opium, and is totally obsessed with his dead wife. He's a classic "unreliable narrator" (check out "Characters" for more on that). So Poe can do more than simply tell the story, he can get himself – and us – all wrapped up in its messy particulars, in the haze of opium and obsession. We're stuck right in the middle of the action and, despite having a front row seat or perhaps because we have one, we have a hard time separating fact from fiction, reality from dream.

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