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The Bells Essay

1124 words - 4 pages

“The Bells,” a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe, conveys a cheerful tone through distinct sounds and repetition of words. A deeply onomatopoeic poem, “The Bells” progresses after every stanza. Primarily, the alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia in the poem produce a happy tone; but, towards the end of the poem, the sound devices help establish a gloomier tone. In each stanza, the bells are made of a different metal substance. In the first stanza, the bells are described as silver. In this case, the bells are pleasant, precious, and strong. Moreover, the bells portray the stages in life. The first stanza explains a man’s happy childhood. The golden bells in the second stanza are an example of a man’s love life through marriage. The brazen bells in the third stanza depict the terror of a human’s life through aging, and the iron bells in the fourth stanza show the mourning and death of a human. To fulfill the sense of excitement and happiness throughout the first stanza, Poe uses repeating words and consonants, long vowels, and imitation of sounds. The alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia all contribute to the joyful and merry tone of “The Bells.”
Edgar Allen Poe’s alliteration and repetition of words support the poem’s flow and musicality. Poe begins with the alliteration of the m sound in “merriment” and “melody” (3). The soft m sound, also known as a liquid consonant, helps to keep a quick and continuous pace for the poem. Similarly, the alliteration of the s sounds in sledges, silver, stars, and seem, emphasize the calming sounds of the bells (1-2, 6-7). The s sound helps express the soothing and comforting effects of the bells, essentially contributing to the merry tone of the poem. Furthermore, the alliteration of the sharp t sound establishes a more explosive and sharp effect. In the words tinkle, night, twinkle, delight, time, and tintinnabulation, Poe’s sharp t sound creates the sense of a clashing of bells (4-9). The t alliteration provides a clinging and merry sound of bells. Since the bells describe a delightful and melodic tone, the quick and sharp melody of t sounds contributes to a pleasing and joyful tone. Ultimately, the repetition of the word bells impacts the overall flow and melody of the poem. The repetition of the bells mimics the sound of bells ringing (12-14). Additionally, the lls sound is a liquid consonant, the rhythm of the bells signifies a progression. The repetition helps to support the cheerful tone by signifying the merry and delight melody of the bells. The bells are like church bells ringing; they show the end of a time period and the beginning of another. In the case of the first stanza, the bells represent the end of childhood and the beginning of marriage.
The assonance in “The Bells” underscores the poem’s joyous tone. Poe’s short e sound in merriment, melody, and foretells (3) provides a greater importance for the three words. The assonance emphasizes the happiness the bells bring upon the world....

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