Edgar Allen Poe's short story Ligeia, in a style much like that of The Fall of the House of Usher, has all the makings of a classic, gothic horror tale. It is a story of a love so strong that it overcomes the realms of death. The unnamed narrator is so in love with the Lady Ligeia, as she is with him, that her untimely death soon after their marriage was unable to separate them. Ligeia rejoins the narrator in life through the body of another, Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine. Rowena is the second wife, and she too dies shortly after her marriage to the narrator. Though he marries another, he still thought only of Ligeia. With Rowena's death, Ligeia saw the chance for a reunion with her beloved. She returned first in spirit, though that never really left, for Rowena could often feel an unexplained presence. Next the physical returned, for Rowena's body was transformed into the beautiful Ligeia's, with hair "blacker than the raven wings of midnight" and "the black and the wild eyes." Ligeia triumphed over her rival in a struggle of immortal versus immortal (Harris 514).
Ligeia returned to the narrator because the bond of love was too powerful to ever be broken. Ligeia is indeed a classic, gothic tale, but it is also a love story. Author D.H. Lawrence said, "It is a tale of love pushed over a verge. And love pushed to extremes in a battle of wills between the lovers" (Fitzgerald 377).
The element of setting is an important factor in the development of a gothic horror tale. In the beginning it is established that the action is occurring in an old castle that sits molding on the Rhine River. In the castle there is a dark interior and the atmosphere is eerie. Strange noises are often heard producing a "phantasmagoric" effect on the inhabitants of the castle, and everywhere there is "verdant decay." In later parts of the story, the moldy castle is replaced with another gothic dwelling, an old abandoned abbey in the most remote part of England....
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