Study Guide

Annabel Lee Family

By Edgar Allan Poe

Family

So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me, (lines 17-18)

The speaker never quite comes out and says he doesn't like Annabel's family, but you can almost hear how crabby he is about this "highborn kinsman." We think there's a bit of a "kid from the wrong side of the tracks" theme here. It's just a hint, but it adds some extra tension and texture to the plot.

To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea. (lines 19-20)

Death is the thing that first comes between the speaker and his beloved. But then the family comes in and seals the deal, taking her away for good and literally shutting her away from him in a tomb. We almost get the feeling that he thinks the family, and not death, are the bad guys here. In any case the speaker has a pretty paranoid, "us against the world" approach to this whole situation.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--(lines 27-28)

This looks to us like another swipe at those "highborn kinsmen" that he's obviously not so crazy about. Instead of letting himself get pushed around by these older people, he insists that he has something they don't – the strongest love in the world. It's a feeling a lot of us can probably relate to. It's annoying to be told that you must not know what you are talking about because you are young.

Of many far wiser than we-- (line 29)

This opens up a bunch of questions about whether love and wisdom have anything to do with each other. Do you need to be wise and experienced in order to love completely? Can you make decisions for yourself about love when you are a kid? A lot of people would say no, or suggest that you should listen to people who are older than you, but our speaker doesn't seem to feel that way at all. He knows that other people must have more wisdom, but he doesn't think that gives them any right to judge his relationship, or to tell him what to do. He rejects the standard ways of deciding who should be in control (more knowledge, more years), and puts love at the top of the list.

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