Disparate Affections: The Volatile Imbalance of Male and Female Agency in Several Short Works by Edgar Allan Poe
AuthorHooker, Kaitlin Paige
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis essay explores a paradoxical imbalance between male and female within three of Poe's short fiction works: Berenice, Ligeia, and The Fall of the House of Usher. Specifically, it analyzes both mental and physical agency, identifying dominant and submissive moments for both male and female characters in both categories, with neither gender being healthy while the other is, and neither unhealthy while the other is. The characters that make up the female side of this paradox are all women who are buried alive and who gain postmortem agency. These resurrected female characters consistently take both mental and physical power away from their male counterparts before a culmination and climax in their power roles when they reveal their continued life after death to male narrators. At this time, a resolution in the struggle between the genders occurs with female characters ending in positions of both physical and mental power. This tension between male and female seeks resolution while simultaneously revealing Poe’s obsession and fascination with its imbalance.
Degree ProgramHonors College