Death, Suffering, and a Beautiful Woman: "Berenice" by Edgar Allan Poe Analytical Essay

Death, Suffering, and a Beautiful Woman: "Berenice" by Edgar Allan Poe
An exploration of the relationship between beautiful women and death in Edgar Allan Poe's "Berenice."
# 153905 | 0 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on Jun 16, 2014 in Literature (American)

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From the Paper:

"The short story "Berenice" by Edgar Allan Poe follows a young man named Egaeus, who has a sort of obsessive love and desire for his beautiful cousin named Berenice. They grow up together as children in an old manor when the once beautiful Berenice begins to lose her beauty through a disease that is never named. As Berenice loses her loveliness, the only part of her that is not destroyed by her disease is her teeth, which becomes a fixation for Egaeus.
"Towards the end of the short story, a servant tells Egaeus that Berenice has died. This upsets Egaeus, but he later has more to be upset about. He finds out that someone has dug up Berenice's grave, at which the others find out that Berenice was buried alive. Furthermore, the only part of Berenice that had been disturbed was her teeth: someone had ripped out all thirty-two teeth from her mouth while she was alive. The story suggests that Berenice is still alive at the end when Egaeus finds out that his clothes he was wearing the night before are now wet and covered in blood. Worst, he finds a small box that has thirty-two teeth inside, all covered in blood. The last lines of the story is written in Latin, but translates to "My companion said to me, if I would visit the grave of my friend, I might somewhat alleviate my worries."
"A theme that's been seen in the majority of Poe's works is the death of a beautiful woman, though I believe "Berenice" takes this further. It's not just the death of a beautiful woman, but also the punishment of a once beautiful woman. The way in which Berenice lives is truly brutal and horrifying: she wastes away, is assumed dead, is buried alive, and presumably, her cousin digs her up, finds her alive, and rips out her teeth. By the end of the story, we are led to believe that Berenice continues to survive after all of this. This fate could be considered worst than death. Furthermore, Berenice is never truly developed as a character: she is merely a vessel of Egaeus' obsession."

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