Poe's Stories

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Narrator (Ligeia) Character Analysis

Describes his lost love, Ligeia, but struggles with his memory. The only thing that remains clear to him is her personality and her appearance. He speaks with awe about her irregular looks and her intelligence and is heartbroken by her death. Afterwards, he is a changed man – he buys a desolate abbey and decorates it in bizarre taste and takes a new wife whom he subsequently hates. Memories of Ligeia come back to him when Rowena is on her deathbed, but he also admits to taking a lot of opium. It is unclear if the final sequence of unnatural events, in which Ligeia appears to return from the dead, where the narrator’s drug-fueled delusion ends and where Ligeia’s paranormal spirit begins.

Narrator (Ligeia) Quotes in Poe's Stories

The Poe's Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Narrator (Ligeia) or refer to Narrator (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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The night waned; and still, with a bosom full of bitter thoughts of the one only and supremely beloved, I remained gazing upon the body of Rowena.

Related Characters: Narrator (Ligeia) (speaker), Lady Rowena of Tremaine
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator of the short story has remarried after the tragic death of his wife, Ligeia. The narrator's new wife, Rowena, has fallen seriously ill. Late at night, the narrator keeps watch over Rowena. As he watches, the narrator can only think of Ligeia--dead, yet still very much alive in his mind.

As we gradually realize, however, Rowena seems to be transforming into Ligeia. Poe creates the illusion that the phenomenon is something supernatural and horrifying, but also that it's the narrator's own obsession with Ligeia that brings her back to life. The real victim here, of course, is Rowena, who seems to be no more than the empty vessel into which the narrator pours his obsession with Ligeia. Rowena is only a replacement for Ligeia--and here, with the narrator clearly hungering for his dead wife's return, Rowena herself seems "melt away."

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Narrator (Ligeia) Character Timeline in Poe's Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Narrator (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 of her. He remembers how... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...the form of Ligeia’s eyes is haunting, it is their expression that he really remembers. The narrator of "Ligeia" says he has spent hours thinking about this expression, trying to understand its power. He... (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 is like a lost child.... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...voice low and soft again, and confesses the fierceness of her love for her husband. The narrator of "Ligeia" has never imagined her love to be as fierce as this, and he feels both... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...by angels, in which the hero is a horrible worm, destroying the human characters. As the narrator of "Ligeia" finishes reading this morbid poem, Ligeia cries out appeals to God that the worm be... (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 and, with no lack of... (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
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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
...Rowena becomes ill, 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... (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)