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The Influence of Grief

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The Influence of Grief

There is a headstone is Ireland that reads, "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, and love leaves a memory no one can steal." Death, especially of a dear beloved, is a difficult concept to handle. Mourning over a loved one is a painful and agonizing process. Its affect is unfathomable and, indeed, leaves a heartache that never completely heals. There are various different ways people handle this kind of loss. Many are able to move on and enjoy the delicacies life has to offer them, but some are not able to bear such a substantial loss and begin to act in a deteriorating manner. The novel The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart and the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe both pertain to the theme of grieving over the loss of a loved one. However, Poe's poem conveys a more maniacal tone of grief whereas Urquhart's novel has a more melancholy ambiance. Though both the works portray the mourning process as long and agonizing, exhibit levels of obsession with the deceased beloved, and present emotions attached with loss, the approach in Poe's poem is more dramatic and intense compared to the nostalgic mannerism of Urquhart's novel.

Firstly, it is evident in both literary works that the protagonist has spent a long time in sorrow over their lover's death. In The Stone Carvers, Klara, one of the main protagonist of this novel, still mourns over her lover, Eamon, decades after his death. This is apparent when her brother, Tilman, asks Klara about the man that went to war. She discloses that he died on the battlefield and when he shares his condolences she tells him, "It was a long time ago" (Urquhart, 257). Later, she goes up to her room to rest but realizes that bringing up Eamon still troubles her: "She felt oddly stunned and empty, as if she would never care about anything again. A weighty drowsiness moves through her blood." (Urquhart, 257). This portion of the novel exposes that no matter how much Klara attempts recover from Eamon's death, even after fifteen years, she is still deeply afflicted and rueful. Similarly in Poe's poem "Annabel Lee", the narrator claims, "And this was the reason that, long ago, in this kingdom by the sea, a wind blew out of a cloud, chilling my Annabel Lee;" (Poe, 13-16). He states that it was a long time ago that his beloved Annabel Lee passed away, yet he still is mournful over her death. However, although both characters still remain heartbroken given all that time, Poe's narrator is constantly thinking about Annabel Lee, trying to conserve her in his memories, whereas Klara forces herself to forget Eamon. The narrator claims, "And neither the angels in heaven above, not the demons down under the sea, can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee" (Poe, 30-33). Poe's narrator is proud of his love and professes it boastfully, challenging heaven and hell to attempt to tear apart his soul from his lover's. It is evident that he constantly recalls his dear maiden and torments himself with her memory. Klara, however, refrains herself from thinking about Eamon: "She had rationed the time she would allow herself to think about him, and by a fierce act of will had almost succeeded in turning him into a faceless ghost, until all that was left was the vaguely human, dark shape of his absence" (Urquhart, 332). The restriction Klara has set up for herself regarding her memories of her love is extensively contrasting Poe's arrogance in his love. Granting that the two existing lover's are buried under deep sorrow, Poe's narrator embellishes his love for Annabel Lee while Klara suppresses her love for Eamon, preferring a dismal state of mind.

Furthermore, the two art works also feature some level of obsession with the departed suitor. In Poe's poem, the narrator seems reluctant to give up on his lover even though she has passed away. He proclaims that their souls are forever attached and nothing, from angels to demons, can ever separate them. He addresses that his Annabel Lee "lived with no other though that to love and be loved by me" (Poe, 5-6). The narrator brags that "we loved with a love that was more than love - I and my Annabel Lee" (Poe, 9-10). They were so absorbed in their love for each other, so obsessed with their infatuation, that the narrator carries this obsession with him even after his lover's death. This obsession is comparable to The Stone Carvers, as Klara's obsession with her deceased lover, Eamon, surfaces throughout the book. When Klara first hears of Eamon's death, she decides to make a red waist coast similar to the one she had tailored for Eamon. This becomes the only relic she has left of her beloved. She is unwilling to detach herself from this piece of clothing, no matter what the circumstances. When she disguises herself as a man in the red waist coat, Tilman states, "Better tear the [waist coat] some, add some patches" (Urquhart, 258). However, Klara cannot bring herself to damage the waist coat for it is the only thing she has left of Eamon:

"I can't do that." said Klara. "Not to the waist coat." "Leave it at home then. Wear some other coat." "I can't do that either. I'll carry it with me somehow." She knew it would break her heart not to wear the red garment and to leave it behind was unthinkable (Urquhart, 258-259).

Klara is unable to bear parting with this waist coat, even when she plans to travel as a tramp. She is somewhat obsessed with this garment, and this reveals her yearning for Eamon. She herself later admits that "without any kind of momento mori and with no life to replace the story of him that, despite her best efforts, still held on to her heart- Eamon"(Urquhart, 262). She understands this obsession but cannot seem to let go of pain caused by the death of her love. However, although both characters are portrayed as somewhat obsessive over their

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