Poe's Stories

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The mystical first wife of the narrator of "Ligeia", her fascinating intelligence and ghostly, wild appearance makes theirs an extreme romance. Though in many ways she seems quite unreal, on her deathbed, Ligeia begs for life and reveals her true love for the narrator. She haunts him thereafter in memories and in moments when the narrator’s second wife, Rowena, reminds him somehow of her. At the end, whether it is the narrator’s altered state influencing his senses, or whether she really has escaped the grave, Ligeia appears in Rowena’s place and the lasting image of the story is her paranormally large eyes.

Ligeia Quotes in Poe's Stories

The Poe's Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Ligeia or refer to Ligeia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Poe's Stories published in 2006.
Ligeia Quotes

They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals – in moments of intense excitement – that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia.

Related Characters: Narrator (Ligeia) (speaker), Ligeia
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

In this story, we're introduced to a narrator who's peculiarly obsessed with his bride, Ligeia. Ligeia's eyes are the very embodiment of the uncanny. Traditionally, the eyes are the most human, recognizable thing about a person--they're the "window to the soul," after all. Ligeia's eyes, however, aren't comforting or humanizing at all. On the contrary, they seem alien and bizarre. Thus, Ligeia's eyes are both familiar and disturbingly unfamiliar--in short, they're uncanny.

Ligeia's eyes are an important symbol in the story, because they suggest a strange combination of attraction and repulsion. Much like the whirlpool in the previous story, Ligeia's eyes are both seductive and terrifying to the narrator; they hypnotize him, even as he fears for his life. The narrator's simultaneous attraction and repulsion mirror that of the reader--we're frightened of reading any further, and yet we can't help but read on.

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Ligeia Character Timeline in Poe's Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Ligeia appears in Poe's Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Ligeia
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" cannot remember how he came to know Ligeia. He says his memory has become weak... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
There is only one aspect of Ligeia that the narrator of "Ligeia" does not ever fail to remember, the form and appearance... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...– there is something animal about them. They are usually only slightly noticeable but when Ligeia gets excited, they enlarge and their size and blackness become intensely strange. But though the... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" describes the feeling of almost remembering something, which he thinks is one of the most... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" has also been reminded of Ligeia by music and literature, and a certain book in... (full context)
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" tells us that Ligeia was also very educated – she read all the time and... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
So when Ligeia dies, the narrator of "Ligeia" is left alone, without both his teacher and wife. He... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
It is not until the last moment, that Ligeia becomes still, her voice low and soft again, and confesses the fierceness of her love... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
At midnight, on the night of her death, Ligeia asks her husband to recite to her a particular poem that she has written herself... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
After Ligeia dies, the narrator of "Ligeia" can’t stand to be in their city by the Rhine... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
In chambers like these, the new couple pass their first month. The narrator of "Ligeia" can’t help but notice that Rowena isn’t very loving towards him and dreads his moods.... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...and she has feverous nights, and mumbles and moans strange words, which the narrator of "Ligeia" puts down to the fantastical images surrounding her in the chamber. She recovers but then... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
One night, Rowena wakes the narrator of "Ligeia", who has been sleeping fitfully beside her. She tells him that she sees things and... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" brings back the wine and Rowena begins to come to her senses again. But as... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The fourth night that the narrator of "Ligeia" watches over Rowena indeed turns out to be her last. As he sits with the... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
At midnight, the narrator of "Ligeia" believes he hears a low sob coming from the bed. He is filled with superstitious... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
The narrator of "Ligeia" falls back down onto his couch and the visions of Ligeia come back to him.... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
For a third time, the narrator of "Ligeia" dreams of Ligeia and for a third time, Rowena seems to awaken. He can’t bear... (full context)