Study Guide

Alone (Poe) Isolation

By Edgar Allan Poe

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John Donne once said that no man is an island. Apparently he hadn't met the speaker of "Alone." This guy feels as much like an island as one can. He's isolated, lonely, alienated—the works. Ever since he can remember, he tells us, the speaker has not been as others were. He sees things differently, doesn't get excited about the same things as other people, and so on. The speaker even suggests that it is his difference from everybody else that has made his life a "stormy" one. Luckily for him (and us), this poem isn't all "woe is me." By the end of the poem, it kind of seems like the speaker is isolated, but also unique, even gifted.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Does the speaker seem bothered by his isolation at all? How do you know?
  2. Do the feelings the speaker describes ring true for you at all? Why or why not?
  3. What is the effect of the repetition of the words "My" and "I" in the poem?
  4. Is it possible that the speaker is exaggerating his feelings of loneliness? This is a retrospective poem, after all. How can you tell?

Chew on This

The poem is classic proof of how isolation, loneliness, and the like can make one's life extremely difficult.

Actually, this poem shows us that being isolated, or different, doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

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