Describe the Dark Romanticism presented in “Annabel Lee”?

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dark Romanticism is akin to Gothic literature. One of the prominent themes in Gothic/Dark Romantic texts is death. Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" is a Dark Romantic poem in which the speaker reflects on the loss of his beloved, as revealed in the third stanza and again in the final lines of the poem.

Most of the poem celebrates Annabel Lee herself and the speaker's love for her. The romantic setting of "this kingdom by the sea" (line 8) further enhances the mood of the poem. Romantic literature, both in the American and British traditions, often emphasizes personal emotions, and it is clear in "Annabel Lee" that the focus is on the speaker's deep and undying love for his beloved. The speaker imagines that the angels in heaven were envious and sent a rain cloud that would sicken Annabel Lee and lead to her death. This engagement with the supernatural is a feature in both Romantic and Dark Romantic/Gothic poems. 

Finally, the Dark Romanticism of the poem is most obviously seen through the death of Annabel Lee, referred to a few times throughout the poem. The dramatic (and somewhat archaic) word "sepulchre" is repeated, while at the end of the poem, it is followed by the word "tomb." Annabel Lee's burial place is by the same sea where they enjoyed their love while she was alive. This sudden change in their relationship wrought by her tragic death makes this poem a classic of American Dark Romanticism. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dark Romanticism is characterised by a focus on the psychological darkness within man's soul. Its essential ingredients are normally based around highlighting the evil that lies at the very core of all men and also the perversion that our emotions can drive us to. In "Annabel Lee," Dark Romanticism is reflected in the transformation of this poem, that appears to be a simple poem of lost love, into something much more sinister as the final stanza reaches its culmination:

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
    In her sepulchre there by the sea—
    In her tomb by the side of the sea.

What begins to be something that the reader thinks is touching, as the speaker describes his love of Annabel Lee as something that can never be "dissevered," is turned through repetition into something much more dark and disturbing. The final lines of this poem serve to cement this impression as the reference to necrophilia is made overt, and the speaker is so clearly disturbed by Annabel Lee's death that he seems to identify no difference in his relationship with her even though she has died, calling her "my life and my bride." In this poem, as in so many of Poe's other works, Dark Romanticism is therefore expressed through the disturbing psychological presentation of the central character.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What distinguishes the Dark Romantics such as Edgar Allan Poe from the mainstream Romantics is the vision of the more threatening aspect of the preternatural world that influences man's life. Because of this element, there is a suspicion and sometimes a feeling of paranoia that enters a person's mind and soul. Such distrust and paranoia characterize the speaker of "Annabel Lee." In the second through the fifth stanzas of this poem, the speaker fears that angels, demons, and her kinsmen all wish to prevent him from being with his beloved. With a haunting tone and a singleness of thought in these verses, there is an other worldliness to the tale of the speaker's lost love who rests eternally by the sea. The speaker reiterates his paranoiac thoughts as he says that he and Annabel loved with "a love that the winged seraphs of heaven / Coveted her and me." Further, he states his suspicions of Annabel's "highborn kinsmen" who come to entomb her body as desiring to take her "away from [him]." The speaker also becomes fixed upon the single idea ("no other thought") but to be with his Annabel Lee. He insists that no one, neither angels nor demons "can ever dissever my soul from the soul / of the beautiful Annabel Lee."