Beauty And Nightmare In Dreamland And A Dream Within A Dream By Edgar Allen Poe

746 words - 3 pages

Edgar Allen Poe’s juxtaposition between beauty and nightmare in “Dreamland” and “A Dream Within A Dream” reveals his perpetual struggle between mania and depression. Losing both of his parents at the age of eight, Poe went on to suffer from the ill judgement of a gambling addiction and social isolation during his stay at Virginia University ( After leaving the university, he obtained literary fame through his poetry, fiction, and criticism. However, Poe consistently squandered opportunities for much needed wealth by antagonizing important figures. The rash and antisocial habits of Edgar show a compelling diagnosis of mania. This mania, coupled with his fascination with death, general irritability, and eventual suicide verifies his the depressive part of bipolar disorder ( Poe’s extreme highs and lows as a result of his manic depression enabled him to write the warped and wonderful poetry for which he is famous.
Wheeling between fear and wonder, the author’s tone and word choice in “Dreamland” results from a bipolar episode. The word choice of “skies of fire” described within “Dreamland” parallels the notion of Hell in Christianity (Dreamland 16). However, spattered across the poem are striking descriptions of endless seas and continuously toppling mountains reminiscent of the awe of Heaven. Haunted by “ill angels,” “Ghouls,” and “White-robed forms of friends long given,” the place being described is Poe’s idea of the afterlife (2, 30, 37). The juxtaposition of “ill” and “angels” is a perfect example of the author’s battle between the enthusiasm of his mania and the cynicism of his depression (2). In addition, “For the spirit that walks in shadow / 'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado!” El Dorado is a mythical city made entirely of gold and is a common expression for utopia or paradise (41, 42). Being followed by the only exclamation mark in the poem, these two lines are filled with Poe’s pessimistic view of his own spirit and his manic enthusiasm at the thought of Hell.
Edgar Allen Poe’s interest in dream states continues in “A Dream Within A Dream”. In this poem, Poe states “That my days have been a...

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