Edgar Allan Poes A Dream Within A Dream English Literature Essay


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Poe has capitalized the word "Hope" making it do two things, stand out and draw attention to it because it's important and that it is a name for someone or something. "Hope", Poe's hope, is gone. Note that Poe also has a rhyming scheme in this poem, which makes the poem flow smoothly and these few lines are no different. It's easy to read and they flow seamlessly together just as easily and seamlessly as "Hope" left. Poe even emphasizes the word "gone" by making the word italicized and makes that line a question. Poe asks "the less gone?" asking if the hope, whatever little hope he had left, has truly left. This "dream" is starting to look pretty bleak. It's hopeless now. Poe's grip on reality is slipping, or has already slipped. The last two lines of the first stanza emphasize this because Poe says, "All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream." Poe also italicizes "All" to put more emphasis on it, to really say the word because he wants it known that everything is not real, that reality is gone along with "Hope".

He is asking God as to why he cannot save his loved ones. He asks why he cannot seem to hold onto to them, to save them from "the pitiless wave". After all, death is never fair, nor does it show any mercy, just like the waves upon this shore. Poe also makes a point to italicize the word "One", alluding to a particular person, his wife for instance, or it could be to put emphasis on the anger, frustration and confusion that Poe is feeling in losing all the people he cares about. Poe feels helpless that he cannot save them from death, or help them, which would frustrate anyone.

The last two lines of the stanza and the poem, he ends with a question. Poe asks "Is all that we see or seem / But a dream within a dream?" Poe has not only posed this question to himself, but to everyone. Poe is questioning if anyone can make the distinction between what is real and what is merely fantasy. He emphasizes the word "All" meaning everything, what we see, hear, feel and touch, is everything real or is it a dream, is the question and one that is left unanswered.

This poem is not only a reflection of Poe's life as it stood right before he died, but one that poses a simple question as to how one might go about distinguishing between what is reality and what is merely fantasy, which is not quite so easily answered. The poem even leaves the question unanswered since Poe himself cannot answer it, because it seems that his grip on reality isn't quite so tight a hold. The tone is one of feelings of confusion, sadness, hopelessness and perhaps a hint of anger, much like how Poe felt throughout his life.

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