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The Spirits

Symbol Analysis

The supernatural is everywhere in this poem. From the title to the last line, we're in a world of spirits. In a way, they're as close as this poem gets to having actual characters. They laugh and sing and dance. At the same time, there's something a little unreal about them too, like a lot of things in this poem. We catch little glimpses of them, but never really get to know them.

  • Line 19: Here's where we first meet the "spirits" who live inside the palace. They're the ones who're doing the haunting. In this part of the poem, though, that doesn't sound like such a bad thing. These spirits are more like "Casper the Friendly" Ghost than Poltergeist
  • Line 29: The "Troop of Echoes" that comes out of the door of the palace are symbols of human speech. In this early part of the poem they are singing beautifully, so we know that things must be okay inside the palace. Poe's allusion to the Greek nymph Echo is clever too, since her story was all about speech. It's a pretty tragic story, too, so maybe this is a way for Poe to sneak in a little bit of foreshadowing.
  • Line 33: All of a sudden, the spirits in this poem turn evil. Before, they were just happy dancers. Now they turn into awful little gremlins who attack the king. We get the sense that the "evil things" that are mentioned in this line are meant to represent insanity, or some kind of disease that attacks the human mind.
  • Line 43: Remember the beautiful dancing spirits we met in line 19? Well, now they've morphed into something way more sinister. Now all we can see through the window are "vast forms that move fantastically." Trust us, in this case fantastic definitely doesn't mean "great." Poe is describing an image right out of a nightmare, the kind of weird huge spirits that you'd see in a terrible dream. Nothing makes sense now that the palace has been attacked, and even the spirits who live inside have become strange and awful.

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