How is Ligeia like and unlike the ideal woman as conceived by adherents of the cult of true womanhood? In an essay about composing literature, Poe wrote the following: "the death, then, of a...

How is Ligeia like and unlike the ideal woman as conceived by adherents of the cult of true womanhood?

In an essay about composing literature, Poe wrote the following: "the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world--and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover." What do you think he meant by this?How does "Ligeia" fit into this philosophy of literature? Consider how the narrator describes Ligeia, how he feels and what he thinks about her: what does the story suggest about the proper roles or characteristics of men and women?

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kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ligeia was different from some women that Poe wrote about because she was very intelligent and independent and opinionated.  She was not the typical woman that Poe wrote about.  She was not weak and demure, although she was physically weak and small in stature due to her fatal illness. 

Poe seems to be saying that the death of a beloved one, especially a woman, is one that surely will inspire a man to write, although it may be sad.  The human spirit and emotions are greatly moved by the deaths of loved ones and a swell of emotions flood us when someone dies that we love.  Therefore, Poe says that this is good material for writing, as it will be genuine and honest and from the heart.

Ligeia falls into this category because she is a beautiful woman who is aesthetically pleasing to behold and because she is a woman the narrator deeply loves and admires.  It is obvious that she is the love of teh narrator's life and that he is devaststed when he loses her.  He even remarries, but she is nothing close to what Ligeia was to him. 

According to Poe, these types of women should be beautiful, intelligent, and musese for their spouses or significant others.  They should evoke deep feelings of love.

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Ligeia

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