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PPHS English 332
American Modernism Project
American Romanticism Project
Aspects of American Romanticism
List of Romanticism Works
A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
A Rainy Day by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Walk at Sunset by William Cullen Bryant
Alone by Edgar Allan Poe
Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe
Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleonora by Edgar Allan Poe
Forms of Heroes by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe
Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe
Little Annie's Ramble by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe by Nathaniel Hawthorne
My Love by James Russell Lowell
My Low and Humble Home by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Paradise of Bachelors and the Tarturus of Maid by Herman Melville
Silence by Edgar Allan Poe
Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe
The Ambitious Guest by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe
The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
The Bridal Ballad by Edgar Allan Poe
The Canterbury Pilgrims by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
The City in the Sea by Edgar Allan Poe
The Coliseum by Edgar Allan Poe
The Darkened Mind by James Russell Lowell
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe
The Happiest Day by Edgar Allan Poe
The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe
The Lake by Edgar Allan Poe
The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes
The Lightning Rod Man by Herman Melville
The Man of the Crowd by Edgar Allan Poe
The Martyr by Herman Melville
The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe
The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe
The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
The Sleeper by Edgar Allan Poe
The Spectacles by Edgar Allan Poe
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether by Edgar Allan Poe
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Valley of Unrest by Edgar Allan Poe
To the River by Edgar Allan Poe
Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe
What the Birds Said by John Greenleaf Whittier
William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe
Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe
Dark Romanticism is a sub-genre of the Literary Time Period, Romanticism (Dark). Dark Romanticism deals with the darker side of human nature, flaws, and darker mythical creatures. Many times the works of art include characters who have flaws such as greed, sin, lust, anger, depression, suffering, and revenge, and these traits overtake their lives and in the end destroy the character (Dark). Edgar Allan Poe was a very famous Dark Romanticism poet, and he wrote many famous works including, The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, and one of his shorter poems, Eldorado. The idea of a knight wasting his life over a material treasure, Eldorado, is not only an example of Dark Romanticism, but it is also a flashback and self reflection of Poe's own life.
Just like many Dark Romanticism poems, Eldorado is a poem where one must look deeply into the meaning to understand the over all goal of the poem. The literal translation does not always seem like it should be part of the Dark Romanticism time period. The following is the literal translation of Eldorado. "A decorated and brave, spirited knight, travels through sunshine and shadow on a long journey in search of the city of Eldorado. The bold knight grows old, and a shadow falls over his heart as he cannot find the city of Eldorado. As his strength fails him, he comes across a pilgrim shadow, and he asks where the land of Eldorado is. The shadow tells his that the city of Eldorado is over the mountains of the moon and down the Valley of the Shadow. Then he tells him to boldly ride in search of the land of Eldorado." Literally, this poem does not seem to fit the same standards as Dark Romanticism poems, but if one looks at all of the poetic devices, it is obvious that this is a clear example of Dark Romanticism.
First off, Poe introduces his character as a brave knight riding in search of Eldorado."Gaily bedight,/ A gallant knight,/ In sunshine and in shadow,/ Had journeyed long,/ Singing a song,/ In search of Eldorado" (Poe). The knight is in search of Eldorado, the fabled city made of gold, filled with treasure unimaginable to all. Dark romanticist often use the poetic device of allusion, or making references to other works of art or tales. Poe's plot dealing with Eldorado is not only a poetic device common to Dark Romanticism, but it is also a lead in to the knight's down fall. Including Eldorado as part of the main plot, Poe gives his main character, the knight, his flaw, which is greed. In the first stanza, line four, Poe writes, "Had journeyed long" (Poe), which is quite obvious in meaning; it means that he has been on a long journey, probably taking up quite a bit of his life. Poe is indicating here that greed has a tendency to control someone, and when that happens, it is in power for a long time. That idea is present in the main story line of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." This flaw, introduced by the use of illusion, is the first hint to the fact that this poem has characteristics of Dark Romanticism.
The next two stanzas give the effects of this greed on the knight. "But he grew old -/ This knight so bold -/ And o'er his heart a shadow/ Fell as he found/ No spot of ground/ That looked like Eldorado.
And, as his strength/ Failed him at length,/ He met a pilgrim shadow -/ 'Shadow,' said he,'Where can it be -/ This land of Eldorado'" (Poe)? Edgar Allan Poe continues to end the stanzas with "Eldorado" (Poe). This repetition, another poetic device, embeds the idea of Eldorado into the readers' heads. Also, it symbolically represents how greed takes over one's mind, and eventually, the character becomes so obsessed with the greed, that it is all he or she can think of. Also, the knight is still in search of Eldorado; the knight is now old and close to death, and he or she is still searching for the famed material treasure. A shadow of greed, of desperation, described as the darker side of human nature by Dark Romanticists, falls upon the knight. He is overcome by this, and in return, he continues to search for Eldorado, even though he is old and dying. In the last stanza, Edgar Allan Poe states this, 'Over the mountains/ Of the Moon,/ Down the Valley of the Shadow,/ Ride, boldly ride,'/ The shade replied -/ 'If you seek for Eldorado'" (Poe)! This is his concluding point, and it is like hitting a brick wall so to speak. Using illusions and metaphors in "'Over the mountains/ Of the Moon'" (Poe), and "'Down the Valley of the Shadow'" (Poe), Poe gives the truth that when one greedily searches for material treasure and becomes obsessed with that idea, it practically ruins them, leading to their downfall, and eventually, death. "Valley of the Shadow" (Poe) can also be interpreted as death or the final place of death. This is self explanatory in its meaning. When Poe writes "'Over the mountains/ Of the Moon'" (Poe), he is explaining a great feat, and at the time considered impossible and unconquerable ever. This metaphor is used to say that no matter how long or how far the knight searches for Eldorado, he or she will never find it, and they will die trying. Overall, what seemed a great feat at the time turned out to be a waste of a lifetime.
With the poem broken down into parts, one can figure out the overall message and the connection to Edgar Allan Poe's life. Poe was not a rich millionaire when he published his stories, rather he was in poverty, even having to burn his own furniture to keep warm at one time (Poe Museum). His eagerness to gain more money, without much success or happiness, can be related to the knight's own want of the treasure of Eldorado. Just like the knight, Poe did not become happy from his search for more money (Poe Museum). By working in his own personal life story into this poem, Edgar Allan Poe related it to many other Romanticism poems. Romanticists in general wrote from their own experiences and from their personal feelings. It is like Dark Romanticism because of its flawed character, references to death and ruined dreams of one. The illusions and metaphors to darker mythical references is also something common to Dark Romanticism. Overall, Edgar Allan Poe's poem, Eldorado, the story of how greed takes over and wastes one's life, is apparent that it belongs in the Dark Romanticism Time Period.
Poe, Edgar A. "Eldorado." (1849). The Literary Network. Jalic Inc., 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2010.
"Poe's Life." Poe Museum. Poe Museum, 2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2010.
"Dark Romanticism." New World Encyclopedia//. New World Encyclopedia, 25 Feb. 2009. Web. 4 Jan. 2011. <
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