THE DEEPER MEANING TO THE POEM
We often call Edgar Allen Poe 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." He images the end of mankind as this but it could take any form. It is correctly named because in the end no one is left standing except the "conqueror worm."
Many of the lines of "the Conqueror Worm" try to tell us a deeper meaning to the poem by using certain figures of speech. The second stanza tells us that the "vast formless things" spread trouble by "flapping from out their condor wings invisible woe!" Poe was stating that the vast formless things spread their trouble in great fanning motions like the condor flaps its wings. The most important figure of speech would have to be the stage curtain coming down like a funeral pall violently ending mankind and showing the Conqueror Worm as the victor. "The rush of a storm" signifies how the curtain quickly came to end the play and covered "each quivering form" to show that mankind was truly finished.
Poe uses great sound in the poem. Many of the alliterations add intrigue to the epic of the magnificent slaughtering worm. One example of alliteration is the use of the letter l in the first two lines. "Lo! Tis a gala night within the lonesome latter years!" gives the reader an idea that Poe is telling a story with an eery setting. Sadness is also very evident in this line because it foreshadows the angel mob donned in veils to hide their tears. Another use of alliteration is in the lines "through a circle returneth in to the self-same spot." The stanza that it lies in tells us about the plot of the play itself. The usage of the words beginning with s give us an idea of how the main character, or mankind, cannot escape a circle of bad events which will eventually lead to its death.
Edgar Allen Poe wanted us to see how he thinks the world will end with this poem. He described the end as a disgusting, grotesque worm devouring us all but in a real sense, the play showed the troubles of man and how it will end our lives. The play was fittingly described in the last stanza by the mourning, pale colored angels as a tragedy that they called "Man".
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