Fear In Edgar Allan Poe's Ligeia

1917 Words 8 Pages
Horror as a literary genre is written with the aim of instilling feelings of terror, dread, disgust, or some combination of these emotions in its audience. This literature does so by capturing in its climactic scenes a fear found in all humans and centering action on the fruition of this fear. Edgar Allan Poe’s Ligeia focuses on the return of the fair Ligeia from the grave, an unnatural occurrence that shocks and horrifies its audience, but it is particularly shocking to the narrator of the tale for reasons other than his deceased bride’s unexpected resurrection. It can be posited that the narrator in Ligeia has formed a masochistic relationship with Ligeia. The ultimate moment of horror lies in Ligeia’s return not because she was once deceased, …show more content…
The ‘special significance of fancy’… 2. The ‘suspense factor’… 3. The ‘demonstrative’…feature…4. The ‘provocative fear’…”, four tenets that can be ascribed to the dynamic of the relationship between the narrator and Ligeia following her death (Deleuze, 74). In addition, Deleuze himself asserts the existence of an essential fifth characteristic of the masochistic dynamic: “the form of the contract in the masochistic relationship” (Deleuze, 75). Each of these properties described by both Deleuze and Reik can be attributed to the narrator’s specific circumstances under which he can feel masochistic pleasure. Firstly, the ‘special significance of fancy’ is described as “the form of the fantasy which is dreamed, dramatized, ritualized” (Deleuze, 74). This element is combined with the third ‘demonstrative’ feature of the masochistic relationship in the form of the narrator’s opium-clouded grief, his repeated longing for his lost love’s return. The ‘demonstrative’ facet of the dynamic is classified by Reik as “the particular way in which the masochist exhibits his suffering” and the narrator fills the void between Ligeia’s departure and eventual return suspended in the pleasurable pain of his personal torment (Deleuze, 75). Masochism itself is centered upon the masochist demonstrating that they wish for a specific event to occur, but finding no …show more content…
As the set duration of the suspense before Ligeia’s return is eternity, the narrator must stave off the lessening of his pleasure and eventually, rekindle the original grief he once felt. As a way to perpetuate the cycle of masochistic relationships wherein his lover dies, the narrator remarries repeatedly and guarantees the passing of his wife. The narrator’s repeated cycle of marrying women fated to die fulfills the ‘provocative’ characteristic of the masochistic relationship, or when “the masochist aggressively demands punishment since it resolves anxiety and allows him to enjoy the forbidden pleasure” (Deleuze, 75). The hazy state of the narrator’s opium-clouded mind lends itself to an air of ambiguity surrounding the scene preceding Rowena’s death. In the bridal chamber, the narrator witnesses a shadow moving across the room towards Rowena, before the form drops “three or four drops of a brilliant and ruby colored fluid” into her wine glass before she drinks (Poe, 9). Following this scene, Rowena’s “disorder” takes “a rapid change for the worse” and leads to Ligeia’s return (Poe, 9). Deleuze states “the masochist needs to believe he is dreaming, even when he is not,” an aspect of the narrator’s masochism which explains his fall into opium addiction following Ligeia’s death. The opium creates a barrier between the narrator and the actuality of

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