Analysis of “A Dream within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe’s philosophy in his poetry was certainly demonstrated in his poem “A Dream Within A Dream.” Poe did most of his work from Richmond, Virginia, in which he was also raised; Poe’s first poem came out in 1827. I chose Edgar Allan Poe because I had heard so much about him, people saying that his work was amazing, and I wanted to know all about him. Edgar Allan Poe’s odd literary style and amazing philosophy are clearly noticeable in his poems.
Poe reveals his wonderful style by explaining his unusual themes and writing with techniques like another poet. Relating his life experiences to his poetry is another way that Edgar Allan Poe had shown his style and theme. Showing of all these aspects of his writing, Edgar Allan Poe’s poems have amazingly influenced society and created remarkable poetry, appreciated by many people. Nearly all Poe’s criticism on poetry was written for the magazines for which he worked. Poe believed that a poem’s emotional impact was inspired by music or “sweet sound.” He thus devoted considerable attention to techniques. Reflecting his interest in musical effects, Poe made no rigid distinction between music and poetry.
Poe’s influence on literature has been immense his story “The Murders in the Morgue”(1841) is considered the first modern detective story. His reviews of American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne mark him as the first significant theorist of the modern short story. His poetry and his stories of terror are among the most influential in modern literature. Writers as diverse as the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky have used Poe’s stories to help their own fictional experiments. Poe celebrated pure forms of beauty and opposed a tendency to instruct or moralize in poetry.
Poe worked as an editor and contributor to magazines in several cities, including Richmond, Virginia; New York City; and Philadelphia. He unsuccessfully tried to found and edit his own magazine, which would have granted him financial security and artistic control, in what the considered a hostile literary market place. During his life, Poe made a lot of enemies through his challenge to moralistic limits on literature, his confrontation with the mentally disturbed narrators of his tales, a belief reinforced by Rufus Griswold, Poe’s literary executor. Griswold portrayed Poe as envious, conceited, arrogant, and bad tempered.
Poe’s life began in Boston, Massachusetts. Struggling and living in poverty, David and Elizabeth Poe, an actor and an actress who lived in Boston at that time, gave birth to Edgar Poe on January 19. 1809. Whether or not his parents raised young Poe with and religious affiliation is unknown; however according to Poe’s poems, he was most likely an atheist, practicing no religion. William Henry Leonard, Poe’s brother, was two years old when Poe was born, and about one year following Poe’s mother Elizabeth gave birth to a little girl whom she called Rosalie, During the summer of 1809 while the family traveled to New York, some critics believe that David, Edgar Allan Poe’s father left his wife and children. Nearly two years later in 1811, Elizabeth passed away as a result of tuberculosis, leaving all children of the Poe family separated.
Edgar Poe was taken in by prosperous scotch merchant, John Allan, who lived in England. In 1836 Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm who was merely fourteen years old. Living with Virginia, whom he loved dearly, and his aunt, Poe worked to financially support them. Although Poe was unsuccessful at trying. Poe enjoyed the relaxed environment and peaceful comfortable house that the women provided him. Although Poe was living in a relaxed and comfortable environment, Poe himself was not noticeable relaxed. Until 1826 Poe’s life was pleasant and enjoyable. But upon entering the University of Virginia, Poe quickly began drinking and gambling, gaining many debts. Poe had a sensitive temperament; there fore he was emotional. This is probably the reason for Poe writing poetry with no particular meaning but only to have an effect on the reader as Hyatt Waggoner suggest: “Poe appears to be not even trying to say anything but only to achieve an “effect”- to make us shiver or to bring tears.” Poe believed that the importance of the poem was more important than the poet himself. Poe’s theory, applied to writing poetry in that the writing must have an effect on the reader and the author must intentionally write the effect into the poem. In Poe’s poem, “A Dream Within A Dream,” Poe tries affect the reader in several ways.
Reading this poem allowed reveals the feeling that Poe is trying to create.
“ Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
This much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone!
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream,
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! Yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Then with a tighter grasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”
The effect is the frustration of the narrator who is comparing one grain of sand to a dream. The narrator has a handful of sand and is struggling to separate one from many grains but cannot do so. This sense of frustration refers to lines nineteen to twenty-four. Poe also tries to make the reader feel hopeful. In the beginning of the poem the narrator is in a state of hopelessness because he feels that he is trapped in his own dream and there is no way out. One knows that he feels there is no way out by referring to lines ten and eleven in which the word all is emphasized. As an example of Poe’s use of personification, the sand can be compared to sand in an hourglass, and his hand can be compared to an hourglass. As the sand passes between his fingers, time is running out. Poe tries to create suspense by saying, “O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave?” By using the adjective pitiless to describe the wave, Poe indicates that the narrator may be losing an item of importance, which one-grain of sand symbolizes.
Although he may be losing an item of importance he still seems hopeful as Hyatt Waggoner refers to the first stanza in which the narrator says, “is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream.” Approaching the end of the poem, this same statement is in the form of a question, indication that there may be some hope. The particular mood of this poem is somewhat intense. One may feel tense as a result if the narrator’s frustration however, because of the effect of hope, the mood may also be some what optimistic. His reputation of the phrase “Oh God!” creates suspense show in the agony of the narrator.
Furthermore, his reputation of the title and phrase A Dream Within A Dream” put emphasis on what he is trying to prove. “While I Weep” also repeated twice indicates that the narrator is crying and possibly in pain. At the same time, the reputation of this hopeless phrase creates a feeling of depression. Poe often used repetition to create a feeling of melancholy.
Edgar Allen Poe’s strong use of adjectives throughout the poem helps the reader to create an image of the poem in his or her head.
“A Dream With In A Dream” is determined from frustration of the narrator who is trying relentlessly to separate one gain of sand from a handful of grains, even crying, but he continues. He sees hope and enlightenment to keep going. He perservers as Poe did in Arduous Life. While creating his poems, Edgar Allan Poe developed characteristic techniques and themes such as those displayed in hid poem “A Dream With In A Dream.”
Poe’s Characteristic techniques, themes, and poetry were greatly influenced by his life. Edgar Allan Poe accredits his parents, his mother particularly, with giving him the ability to recite verse (Minor 2240). When Poe was fourteen, he fell in love with a fellow student’s mother but was severely depressed when, a year later, the benevolent woman passed away. This depression most likely caused him to write poems with profound melancholy. “One of the most important events of his early life was the death of his mother when he was not yet three, and his poetry bears the memory.” (Minor 2240). Virginia’s death in 1846 destroyed Poe’s sprit, causing him to go mad and drink excessively (Roth 2). Several deaths influenced his sorrowful poetry. Although his poetry was sorrowful, his poetry was recognized by many people.
Edgar Allan Poe was not recognized instantly. He was greatly criticized in America until he was older. Developing skills and recognition took time. During this period Poe became a celebrated poet not only for his poems but also for inspiring society in America and internationally in Latin America, Scandinavia, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Although he was immediately popular in America, “Poe is considered the father of the French Symbolist Movement, even though he never had any contact with French writers.” In 1835 Poe wrote for the Southern Literary Messenger, developing the reputation of the magazine. By contributing numerous essays, stories, and poems he and the magazine wanted recognition.
Edgar Allan Poe’s works are not greatly notified to many people because it is sometimes difficult to under stand what he is trying to say; that is apparently why Poe is acknowledged with creating the detective story which does not tell the story directly to the reader but makes him or her think about what is really happening. This kind of writing has been brought into many modern authors’ writings along with his other accomplishments; he has left an impression on society throughout the century.