Write an essay discussing the following points:
  1. Thoroughly show how the work of literature fits the definition of Romanticism.
  2. Show how the writer’s life affected his/her work.
  3. Show how the work compares in style, character, theme, etc. to other works by the author and to your other assigned work.

Silence – Edgar Allan Poe (1840)

By: Matt Vermeersch

In the Poem “Silence” by Edgar Allan Poe, it is easy to see how death has affected his life. We can see in the work that death and the idea of death has had a definite impact on his outlook on life. This is similar to his other poem, “The Raven.” In this other poem he is haunted constantly by a raven which constantly reminds him of what is to be assumed his former lover. In the poem above, we read death has two entities, body and soul. Death is a natural thing, which all people must go through some time in their days, so it represents one idea behind romanticism; nature will guide us to the truth.

Within “Silence” we read about this man who is called, “No More.” No More is said to be the corporate silence, or the eternal silence, also known as death. Poe tells us not to fear death, and if death comes at a bad point in your life, entrust yourself to God. According to the Bible John 14:6, He is “the way, the truth and the life” (); the truth is the most important part in that statement. Abby Werlock says Romanticism, “valued individuality, imagination, and the truth revealed in nature” (Werlock). Death is a natural thing of which everybody must come to face. It is in nature that brings us to the truth that is also known as God.

Poe had a rough life as a child. He witnessed his mother freeze to death and then was further traumatized when he and his siblings were separated and moved in with different families (Sova). Poe moved in with John and Frances Allan. Frances was a good mother, but John could be abusive and kicked Edgar out of the house at age sixteen (Sova). Some scholars believe this rough life during his upbringing led to the dark image his work portrays. Oftentimes, like in the poem “Silence,” the subject is death; which many scholars point back to this point in his life, watching his mother die in front of him.

When comparing the poem “Silence” to another one of Poe’s works, such as the poem, “The Raven,” it is easy to see the similarities. Both “Silence” and “The Raven” are focused on death. When discussions came up in class, there were things stating the Raven within the story stating “nevermore” meant that the narrator would never be able to see his love, Lenore, again. It is to be assumed that Lenore within this poem was his former over who died and widowed the narrator. It also to be assumed Lenore was younger and should not have died at the age, causing the narrator much pain and sorrow. Both of the poems have similar style. They both have a rhyme scheme. While they are not the same scheme they do nonetheless rhyme, which is not an automatic style in poetry. Also, both of these poems are very heavy of symbolism and once again, representing death.

When comparing Poe’s “Silence to a short story of his called, “The Man of the Crowd,” it is easy to see they fall in the category of Dark Romanticism. In the opening paragraphs of “The Man of the Crowd” it reads, “Men die nightly in their beds, wringing the hands of ghostly confessors, and looking them piteously in the eyes -die with despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man takes up a burthen so heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only into the grave. And thus the essence of all crime is undivulged” (Poe, “The Man). There is definite Dark Romanticism qualities that are shared within this excerpt and “Silence.” When reading the excerpt above you notice the words ghostly, die, mysteries, horror, and grave. These words are all things which are used in Dark Romanticism. These are the “supernatural” things which can be seen often times within Dark Romanticism works.

In “Silence,” nature does guide us to the truth. When using Romanticism and Catholicism, it is easy to make the connection. Religion is not the answer to American Romanticism, but it does make sense when thinking about the philosophies. Poe had a rough life when he was growing up and many of his “dark” qualities and inspiration come from this rough time in his life. “Silence” can be compared to other works of Dark Romanticism and with that connection to Dark Romanticism, "Silence" can be included within the spectrum of the Romanticism genre.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Man of the Crowd." University of Virginia Library. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=PoeCrow.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1>.

Poe, Edgar Allan. " The Raven." Heise Online - IT-News, C't, IX, Technology Review, Telepolis. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Lore/TheRaven.html>.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "Silence." The Literature Network: Online Classic Literature, Poems, and Quotes. Essays & Summaries. Web. 07 Dec. 2010 <http://www.online-literature.com/poe/2149/>.

Sova, Dawn B. "Poe, Edgar Allan." Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= ffazpoe0957&SingleRecord=True>.

Werlock, Abby H. P. "Romanticism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online
. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CASS719&SingleRecord=True >.