Literary Analysis

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Literary Analysis
El Dorado, a ballad poem written by Edgar Allan Poe, is notably one of his most prolific, and prominent works. It depicts the journey of a knight searching for the “land of El Dorado”, while enduring a loss of strength, and affliction of old age. The term “El Dorado” is frequently used metaphorically to describe a utopia, true love, success, or sincere happiness. There are various interpretations of what Poe was referring to in his mentioning of El Dorado. However, it is highly probable that due to the text, and the context surrounding the poem; that El Dorado is synonymous with a wanted lover, or an ideal woman suitable for the knight. Throughout the poem, Poe refers to a “shadow” which symbolizes the knight being without a partner, and the depressing, gloomy feeling he gets from being alone. In the first stanza, Poe writes “A gallant knight / In sunshine and in shadow / Had journeyed long / Singing a song / In search of El Dorado” (2-6). In these lines the shadow is used to compare the joyous, jubilant life of being in love, represented by sunshine; with an empty feeling, and deep desire for companionship. Furthermore, he stresses that the knight has experienced both the feelings of love, and loneliness; but strives to continue his endeavor of finding the love of his life. As the story progresses, the burden of searching vigorously for an acquaintance becomes increasingly evident where Poe writes “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 El Dorado” (7-12). At this point in his life, the knight has grown old, and begins to lose hope of ever finding the perfect woman. Towards the end of the poem, the meaning of the shadow shifts from being the deep desire the knight has to find a partner, to a ghost-like illusion that he encounters which presumably serves to guide him to El Dorado. “And as his strength / Failed him at length, / He met a pilgrim shadow /...
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