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Explication on Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream”

In “A Dream Within a Dream” Edgar Poe uses different methods and themes to create a message of the poem. Poe depicts deep personal feelings through the themes of life, love, a dream and desperation. All the themes are hidden and expressed though symbols and metaphors. The theme of a dream has a double meaning. On the one hand, the theme of a “dream” helps Poe to recreate his past and symbolizes realization of his fantasies. A dream symbolizes something which a person cannot possess, for this reason it becomes so desirable and attractive. Poe uses the theme of a dream to depict his past which has also gone: “That my days have been a dream”.

It is possible to predict that the pains of the hero (Poe) are those of the people who feel lack of warmth and cordiality in their lives. In this poem, Poe depicts most of all the intense sadness which forms the black shadow. Lightness and brightness is there, a sensation of inexhaustible skill, nature endlessly repeating herself: “O God! can I not save, One from the pitiless wave?”. A person addresses God only when he is in trouble or is not able to find the way out. It is evident that people around the hero do not pay much attention to him. He is crying out to God for help.

On the other hand, a “dream” is nothing more than our life. Poe compels the readers to think about the meaning of their life: “Is all that we see or seem, But a dream within a dream?”. In this poem Poe depicts the truth of life trying to find the essence of our existence: the truth of the limits of intellect, the truth of death’s necessary presence if the imagination is going to be fully birthed: “You are not wrong, who deem”.

“Grains of the golden send” symbolize days of our life “How few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep. The “ golden sand” serves as a symbol that represents dilemma and the knowledge retrieval, the desire to find old truth, and the symbol of maternity. Poe underlines the idea that people do not pay much attention to their life spending precious time. But one day, they look back weeping because they “cannot grasp them with a tighter clasp”. The hero is one of many, and he needs to find his own way.

The hero of the poem tries to cover up the pain in his life. Pain is huge, but has nothing to do with melancholy, nostalgia or any other affliction or disease of the soul, being an emotion more heavenly than earthly. The hero loved and has been loved: “parting from you now, Thus much let me avow”. For the hero love means unachievable dream: “In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone”. In this sense, he is a victim because he needs to escape from realities of life which he cannot change. The hero suffers internally with a show of strength to the world and the effects that this has upon him. The very act of outward strength and happiness is in reality an appeal for help from the world. His hope has “gone away” and he does not know the way out.

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