Can anyone help with an interpretation for "The Bells"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are many aspects of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Bells" that lend themselves to interpretation. I will identify a few of them. You might focus on the symbolism of the different types of bells as heralds of important events or milestones. Think about how Poe uses language differently in each section to convey various tones: the exuberance of childhood holidays, wedding day bliss, alarm, and the sorrow of death. The fact that alarm bells immediatley follow wedding bells suggests that the speaker considers marriage to be composed of brief happiness followed by fear and confusion. You might also analyze Poe's use of onomatopoeia, the use of words that sound like the action they perform. Examples include "clanging," "jangling", and "wrangling, which are particularly evocative due to their rhyme. One could argue that the entire poem is onomatopeic, as the hypnotic description of the bells mimics the sound they make.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial