Berenice Assignment

Essay by painted-in-greyJunior High, 9th gradeC+, April 2007

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“Berenice”Vocabulary List:1.Monastic- of or pertaining to monasteries.

2.Erudition- knowledge acquired by study, research, etc.

3.Ardent- having, expressive of, or characterized by intense feeling.

4.Reverie- a state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing.

5.Cloister- any quiet, secluded place.

6.Tumultuous- marked by disturbance and uproar.

7.Sylph- a slender, graceful woman or girl.

8.Naiad- a female swimmer, esp. an expert one.

9.Simoom- A strong, hot, sand-laden wind of the Sahara and Arabian deserts.

10.Malady- any disorder or disease of the body.

11.Monomania- (no longer in technical use) a psychosis characterized by thoughts confined to one idea or group of ideas.

12.Ascendancy- Dominance.

13.Dint- Force or power.

14.Quiescence- being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless.

15.Pernicious- causing insidious harm or ruin.

16.Ruminating- to meditate or muse; ponder.

17. Frivolous- characterized by lack of seriousness or sense.

18.Epoch- a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.

19.Idiosyncrasy- a characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual.

20.Emaciation- abnormal thinness caused by lack of nutrition or by disease.

21.Phrenzied- wildly excited or enthusiastic.

Plot Summary:Poe’s “Berenice” is about Egaeus, a man suffering from monomania, a mental disease. Sitting motionless for long periods of time, he ponders, obsesses, and things about many things. Contrasting him, his cousin Berenice is careless beautiful and happy. She later changes after being stricken by epilepsy which changes her whole person. She becomes pale and skinny, lifeless for the most part. One day while Egaeus was sitting in the library, Berenice comes to him and smiles at him, revealing her teeth. They are white and perfect, even when surrounded by her pale lips.

Egaeus then slips into his disorder, becoming obsessed with her flawless teeth and what he sees in them. After her death, a man confronts Egaeus when his cousin’s grave was disturbed, her teeth being removed, while she was alive. Egaeus then finds them in a box next to his bed, not remembering clearly what he has done.

Main Character:The main character of this short story is named Egaeus. He gets lost in time pondering things for endless hours as a result of his psychosis, monomania. He has grown up that way, wasting away time while his cousin was enjoying it carelessly. One can see that he is sensing a degree of jealousy for the life his cousin leads, which he is unable to grasp. When his cousin is completely changed by a sickness, the only thing that remains untouched they it are her teeth, which Egaeus develops a obsessive longing for.

Ruling Conflict:Egaeus’ main conflict is with himself. He struggles to keep track of time and even days, and he struggles to keep his mind form getting too lost. The biggest problem he faces is his obsession for his cousin’s perfect teeth. He feels that if he possesses them, he will help him get over his own disease.

Human Emotions:There are a few emotions expressed by Egaeus, some of which are jealousy, desperation, and obsession. His jealousy is made clear by the contrast he makes between himself and Berenice. “Berenice! —I call upon her name — Berenice! — and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound!” tells us how enraging memories come to mind at the mention of her name. His desperation is shown by the lengths he goes to in order to free himself of his illness. The obsession is expressed by what his ideas of the teeth’s power he develops, “I felt that their possession could alone ever restore me to peace, in giving me back to reason.”Literary Devices:Poe uses a lot of literary devices to make “Berenice” more interesting. In the opening paragraph, a simply is used to compare the wretchedness of earth to a rainbow. There are also a lot of allusions to other writers and poets used. The words of Ebn Zaiat where used, as well as that of Mad'selle Salle.

Rating:Although this story was a bit hard to fallow and needed to be read a few times to be understood, it deserves a high rating. It was written very well and held a valid theme. The end of the story was somewhat predictable, but had a nice yet creepy spin to it. Overall, I would give “Berenice” four out of five stars.