How does the title of the story "Lionizing" by Edgar Allan Poe correlate with the plot?

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erozmiarek eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The word "lionize," in general usage, means to treat an individual or an object "as an object of great interest or importance." 

We see through the story that the narrator and main character, introduced as Robert Jones, is lionized throughout his entire life.  In fact, from the very beginning of his life ("before I was breeched") we see his parents praising him for grabbing onto his nose with two hands.  This act causes his parents to begin praising him immediately, and leads to his father's giving him a "treatise on Nosology."  Eventually Robert Jones grows up to become (if we are to believe the story) a highly acclaimed expert on the subject of "nosology."  Poe shows several instances of people praising Robert Jones for his skill and knowledge:

"Wonderful genius!"

"Superb physiologist!"

"Clever fellow!"

"Fine writer!"

"Profound thinker!"

"Great man!"

"Divine soul!"

These, and others, are the adjectives that people use to lionize the main character.

If I had read this story without being told the author, I would have guessed that it was Mark Twain.  This is much more in the satirical style of Mark Twain than the usual gothic horror style of Poe.  Poe is poking fun at society's habit of lionizing individuals with little reason.  There is, of course, no such field as "nosology," but at the time that Poe was writing, the world was experiencing many advances in medical treatment, and people were often too quick to lionize even minor discoveries. 

The story has little conventional plot to speak of.  It is not a traditional sort of story, but there is an overall emergence and climb to celebrity by Robert Jones.  Then, in the final section of the story, the narrator appears to be insulted by The Elector of Bluddenuff.  They exchange words, then "exchange cards," which implies the preparations for a gentleman's duel, and then the next morning they meet and Jones shoots off the Elector's nose.  For this act, he quickly loses his own celebrity and place in the spotlight, and the lionizing comes to an abrupt end just as the story comes to an abrupt end.

In this ending, Poe is also satirizing the practice of dueling, which was at its high point in this country at about the time this story was written (early 19th century).  No doubt Poe would not have approved of the practice, and by having his character shoot off his opponent's nose, he ridicules what many people considered a serious charge of honor.