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The Conqueror Worm and the End of the World

The Conqueror Worm and the End of the World

Edgar Allen Poe is one of the fathers of terror and mystery. His twisted, Macabre tales and poems are filled with great detail and often end with a dismal twist. “The Conqueror Worm” is one example of his masterful rhymes and tells how a play on life turns into reality for mankind.

The setting is a theater but it is not just a site for plays. Poe describes it to be that way to trick the reader, but the theater is actually the setting for mankind. We play our lives in this stage for everyone else to see. Lines three through six describe the crowd and how they are there to see “a play of hopes and fears.” If people would look beyond the point of reading the line just to understand the words, they would see that the play is actually the lives of everybody in society. I say this because everyone has their own hopes like getting a good job, succeeding, having a family and ultimately dieing happily. Along with their hopes, everyone also has their personal fears.

The characters of the poem are also some very meaningful keys in showing the hidden meaning. The first stanza describes the crowd that has gathered to watch the enactment of our human lives. Lines three and four states “an angel throng, bewinged, and bedight in veils, and drowned in tears.” Poe is stating that a group of angels is going to watch the spectacle put on for them, although they are already drowning in the tears from plays before. The orchestra that plays for them is another set of characters that have meaning. They represent the background in everyone’s life by “playing the music of the spheres.” A third set of characters that show hidden meaning is the “Mimes, in the form of God on high.” They denote the people that inhabit the earth. Poe describes them as “Mere puppets they, who come and go at bidding of vast formless things.” The vast formless things are the ideas that we have. Ideas like the things that we think we have to do for ourselves to survive and succeed. They also make up drama of the play. A final, prominent figure in this dramatic performance is the conqueror worm. Poe illustrates it as “a blood-red thing.

Animal Imagery in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

Animal Imagery in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

Caius Martius Coriolanus, the protagonist in Shakespeare’s play that bears his name, undergoes a circular transformation. He changes from the hero of Rome to an outcast and then back to a hero. As he undergoes this transformation he is likened to a dog, a sheep, a wolf, and an osprey. The invocation of animals to describe Coriolanus is ?perhaps based in the very animal like nature of Coriolanus himself?(Barton 68). His actions like those of an animal are not based on rational thought, instead they are based on instinct. Like an animal he is lacking in speech and can only perform the role that he has been given.

Twice in the play the description of Coriolanus is tied in with the invocation of the image of a wolf. The invocation of a wolf as a counter to the nature of Coriolanus shows the way in which Coriolanus is played against himself in the text. He is treated by the text as prey. He is a pitiful creature who falls prey to the motives of the other characters in the play. In Act 2 Scene 1 the use of the image of the wolf portrays Coriolanus as a potential quarry of the masses:

MENENIUS: Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Marcius.

SICINIUS: Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

MENENIUS: Pray you, who does the wolf love?

SICINIUS: The lamb.

MENENIUS: Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the noble Marcius. (Shakespeare 2.2.5-10)

Coriolanus in this passage is likened to a lamb. Even his friend and supporter Menenius sees that Coriolanus although feared by the people outside the walls of Rome is easy prey for Rome’s own citizens. The second place in the play where Coriolanus is seen as pitiful is in Act 4 Sc…

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…oriolanus speaks in long lines to the Volsces generals. His speech is that of a shepherd who has been through much. He relates his banishment from Rome in long flowing and bitter lines.

?Coriolanus is manifest in his play as both a lamb and a shepherd he is a defeated man who becomes the pray of the wolves of Rome?(Barton 112).

Works Cited and Consulted

Barton, Ann. “Livy, Machiavelli, and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus .” In William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, ed. Harold Bloom, New York, 1988.

Frye, Northrup. “Nature and Nothing.” Essays of Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald W. Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Shakespeare, William. Coriolanus , ed. John Dover Wilson. Cambridge, 1969.

Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.

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