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The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
Which of the following is most likely a reason why the author uses the word "tintinnabulation" in the above line?
Notice the repetition in this line. As with the earlier phrase, "tinkle, tinkle, tinkle," the author chooses to repeat the same word three times in one line. This will happen frequently in the poem. As you continue reading, pay close attention to repetition of certain words, phrases, and images. Each time you encounter repetition, ask yourself why the author might have chosen to include it.
When you read a poem, pay particular attention to the diction, or the words that the author chooses to use. In this passage, words such as "merriment," "melody," and "tinkle" all have a positive connotation. As you continue reading, consider why the author chooses certain words in each stanza: what effect does diction have on the poem's meaning?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Try it now with the word "tintinnabulation." Then, answer the question that follows.
Edgar Allan Poe is one of America's most famous 19th century authors. For more information about the author, visit this interactive website. Based on the introductory animation, what sort of mood do you think Poe usually creates with his writing? As you read, continue to refer to this website to learn more about the author's life and inspirations. (This annotation contains a link)
This entire stanza is about wedding bells. What specific words does the author use to create an image of a happy wedding day in which two people are united forever?
How do the first two stanzas of this poem compare with one another?
Turtle doves, pictured below, are often used in literature and other forms of art to symbolize true love. When you're reading literature, you can often look at an author's use of certain objects, animals, names, and even colors to symbolize a more important idea. What other symbols related to love does the author introduce in this stanza? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the author repeat "higher" in this passage?
"Clang, and clash, and roar!" is most clearly an example of which literary technique?
When reading a poem, it can be helpful to look for the "shift" in tone or attitude. Not every poem contains a shift, but this one does. Look back at the difference between stanzas II and III. How does the author's tone change between them? As you continue reading, see if the tone shifts again. Many times, if you can find the shift in a poem, this can help you determine the theme or message as well.
In this line, the author uses personification, or giving human characteristics to a non-human object. See the graphic below for another example. In "The Bells," what effect is achieved by the speaker's observation of the "pale-faced moon"? (This annotation contains an image)
You may recognize alliteration in this line. See the graphic below for another example of this technique in which the author chooses words that contain the same initial consonant sounds. Where else do you see this technique in this stanza, and why do you think the author uses it? (This annotation contains an image)
The first two stanzas described sleigh bells and wedding bells. In stark, sudden contrast, now the author describes yet another type of bell. Listen to the sound effects in the first few seconds of the video below. How does the author use words in this stanza to create the same startling, frightening effect people often feel when they hear bells such as these? (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think that the video's narrator interprets this poem well? If you were creating your own reading, which passages would you narrate differently? Cite specific text evidence in your response.
Based on the text, how does the "king" of "Ghouls" feel about the iron bells described in this stanza?
Based on the use of the word "monody," what do the iron bells in this stanza most likely represent?
Based on this ending, which of the following is most likely intended to be the author's theme or message?
Use the define feature for the word "monody" and answer the question that follows.
This phrase was used in the first stanza of the poem, but the effect in that stanza was very different than the effect in this one. How has the speaker's view of bells - and life itself - darkened and deepened over the course of the poem?
The following video shows one reader's interpretation of how the poem should be read. Read along with the poem as you listen to the reading, and then answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
As explained in the above text, Poe wrote multiple drafts of this poem. Which words from this early draft made it into the final draft of "The Bells"? Why do you think Poe felt that these particular words should stay in the poem?
Quiz, The Bells