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by Edgar Allan Poe

Analysis: Tough-o-Meter

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(4) Base Camp

Yes, "Ligeia" is a horror story. A lady rises from the dead and there's a spooky room and a freaky poem about a bloodthirsty worm. What more could you ask for? How about a heaping helping of philosophy?

Well, like it or not, that's what you get from Poe. He's not content with making you shake in your boots. No, he wants you scratching your head and furrowing your brow too. It's that same combination of fright and philosophy that makes "Ligeia" something of a tough read. Most ghost stories don't begin with an intense pages-long description of the title character, and with good reason. They want to keep things moving, maybe introduce some thought-provoking questions – "What would I do if the dead came back?" – and then continue on to the scariest possible outcome. With "Ligeia," Poe takes a more leisurely route, and as a result, we're ultimately left with more to consider and more time to consider it. And you know what? Deep thinking isn't often easy.

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