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Analysis and comments on The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe

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Comment 22 of 112, added on December 22nd, 2009 at 9:40 PM.

I like this poem but its a tuff one im in the fifth grade and my teachers
making us analyze it. I think its explaining the stages of life.

madha from United States
Comment 21 of 112, added on October 9th, 2009 at 4:21 PM.

That's a very nice interpretation, Mere. I will offer a different
interpretation of stanza IV.

I believe the king is Death, not Fate. He is the king of the ghouls who
tolls the bells. See Marsha Brady's definition of ghouls: "a legendary
evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses."

Also note that the iron bells are still referred to as "they" at the
beginning of the stanza. "He" refers to the king that tolls the bells.

Clayton from United States
Comment 20 of 112, added on April 23rd, 2009 at 12:34 AM.

Alright. Let me start with a disclaimer. No one but Poe will ever have
the exact right interpretation. I do not claim to have miraculous
knowledge, only hours and hours of examination and more that one critical
analysis paper for my AP class on this poem. Also it is CRITICAL to keep
in mind that Poe's works were heavily swayed by his own belief system.
Background information on the author will help you immensly on your journey
to truth. The silver bells do NOT represent Christmas. Poe was very
anti-religous and it tickled me that it was actually suggested that he
identified himself with Christ. Poe lived in the 19th century. During
that time it was customary to ring silver bells at a baby shower as a
symbol of a good and long life. The first two stanzas are very similar.
They promise "merriment" and "happines" and if you notice center around the
future. Line three of both stanzas makes use of the word "foretells,"
typically associated with foreshadow. But is this joy and wonder of youth
really the foreshadow of the future? Take a closer look. When do the
stanzas take place? Midnight, an unheard of time to celebrate both a baby
shower or a wedding. Go ahead, take a look, see how many times night is
referenced. Night may represent many things, most commonly, death. This
is the true foreshadow. The silver and gold bells with their promises of
the future represent human expectation. Night represents fate. Poe is
using this beautiful metaphor to assert that even from birth we are doomed
to death. Also (in his opinion), love is doomed to death as well. Are you
with me so far? Now on the stanza three, the brazen bells. There is a
major shift of focus that ocurs in this stanza. The emphasis is no longer
placed on the future but the present. The word "foretells" is replaced by
just "tells" and the word "now" also appears in the stanza. Stanza one and
two essentially set up the conflict between human expectation (hope) and
fate. Battle lines were drawn beneath the flowery language and staza three
passionately relates the results. What has the life become? Can hope ever
outweigh fate? According to Poe, no. That is why the brazen bells tell of
despair. The fourth stanza contains neither a prediction or relation, but
rather, a reflection. Iron typically represents vast strength. Notice too
for the first time the bells (iron) are given a pronoun "he." Alll the
other bells are still referred to as "the." This alsone suggests the
superiority of the iron bells. Additionally, "he" is given yet another
name: the king. Throughout the entire fourth stanza "he" is the only happy
character. He is "merry" while the other bells "sob," "moan," and "groan."
Why? The king is fate. He is secure. He can be merry and laugh at the
foolish toil of hope. Hope cries out because it knows the battle is lost
and, recognizing fate as THE king, resolves to worship in him in it's
sadness. That, if you didn't know, is what a paean is, a song of praise or
worship. What does Poe say there is left for one to do, now that hope is
dead, and dark fate has emerged triumphant? Sit. Sit and think. "What a
world of solemn thought their monody compels!" line 82. There is no use in
struggling against fate, in the end, every action of a human life is
completely meaningless, what will be will be, regardless. This is not
suprising. Poe was a fatalist. Please i would love responses. Tell me
what YOU think. If you disagree, speak out! I'd be more that happy to have
a discussion with you. If you want to ask me a question, go for it! Oh
and btw this has absolutely nothing to do with my own personal beliefs.
This is Poe's poem, Poe's worldview. I, in fact, strongly disagree with

Mere from United States
Comment 19 of 112, added on February 25th, 2009 at 9:11 AM.

the bells more like the balls of an old squirrel

Comment 18 of 112, added on October 29th, 2008 at 7:24 PM.

i love this one i remember saying some of it in fifth grade!!! its soooo
amazing you should really learn because i have never forgotten it =)!!!!

Madeline from United States
Comment 17 of 112, added on February 27th, 2008 at 12:53 AM.

What do the bells do? Not what they mean but what they do. I was asked that
and I got stuck at the Iron bells. I find this stanza a hard one to

Roxxy from United States
Comment 16 of 112, added on February 19th, 2006 at 3:09 PM.

I really enjoy reading Poe's work. A teacher introduced Edgar Allan Poe to
me in 8th grade. I have read "The tale tell heart" and "The Raven". I do
have a difficult time analzying his work though. It is just hard for me to
figure out what he is trying to say. But reading The bells over and over
just made me jump to a conclusion that this is all a bio. of his life...

Mitze from United States
Comment 15 of 112, added on January 26th, 2006 at 9:34 AM.

i didnt understand this poem it made no sence and it doesnt sound at all
like any of his other work like the tell tale heart like it just doesnt
have any meaning or hororr

dum poem!

Jake from United States
Comment 14 of 112, added on January 10th, 2006 at 9:09 AM.


Andrew from United States
Comment 13 of 112, added on December 20th, 2005 at 5:55 PM.

The bells is way that poe try to expain the way of life to others.The
joy,happiness,delight,warmth.Which is explain in the first section as you
read.The section wedding which everyone will like to do some day.The third
is the araum of the his wife sickness which was very bad for him.I think
that the fourth is the death of his wife which hurt him a lot.please read
the poem and tell your meaning of it.

catherine from United States

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Information about The Bells

Poet: Edgar Allan Poe
Poem: The Bells
Year: 1849
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 21927 times

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