Why was the narrator's love taken away in the poem "Annabel Lee"?

Expert Answers

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

The narrator's lover in the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee," is the title character. Over the course of the poem, the narrator relates that Annabel Lee was chilled in line 14, which eventually killed her. He says, "the wind came out of a cloud by night, / chilling and killing my Annabel Lee" (25-26). As a result, her cold body was then taken away to be placed in a tomb by her family in lines 27-30.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "chill" as "a cold feeling" and also as "an illness that makes you feel cold." In this context, the word "chill" is probably meant to be taken in both ways. The wind made Annabel Lee cold, which made her weak enough to catch an illness that killed her and thereby left her a corpse without the warmth of life. Alternatively, the cold wind might simply have made her so cold she died.

The narrator explicitly blames this unexpected death upon the angels in lines 11-12 and 21-23. (The word "seraph" in line 11 refers to a type of angel.) The narrator says that the angels are covetous because they are less happy in Heaven than he and Annabel Lee are together. In Christianity, angels are said to dwell in Heaven, which Merriam-Webster also defines as "a place or condition of utmost happiness." Yet, in lines 21-22, the narrator writes that they are "not half so happy in Heaven." By stating that the angels are jealous of his love with Annabel Lee, the narrator is implicitly saying that his love was greater than the greatest happiness. According to the narrator, then, Annabel Lee was killed and separated from him by angels jealous of their impossibly happy love.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial