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HarryClarke1919Morella

1919 illustration for "Morella" by the Irish artist Harry Clarke.

"Morella" is a short fantasy horror story by the American author Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in the April 1835 issue of the Richmond, Virginia magazine Southern Literary Messenger. A revised version of the story appears in the November 1839 issue of the Philadelphia-based publication Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. The earliest published versions of the story include a sixteen-line poem, presented as a hymn that the title character sings on her deathbed, that Poe later had published separately under the title "A Catholic Hymn".

The story's title character is a highly intelligent woman. She has a special interest in the works of certain German philosophers, some of which deal with the continued survival of the personality after death. The story's unnamed narrator is Morella's husband. He never loves her and eventually finds himself longing for her to die. Morella dies while giving birth to a daughter. The narrator becomes unnerved by how much his daughter resembles her late mother in every way.

Films loosely based on "Morella" were released in 1962 and 1990.

Plot

The man who is the story's unnamed narrator knows the woman named Morella for many years. Although he admits to having strong feelings for her of a kind that he cannot really define, he is certain that he does not love her. Nevertheless, he marries her and the two live quite happily for a while.

Morella is an extremely intelligent woman. She studied in Presburg,[1] where she became interested in mystical German literature. She is very interested in the works of the philosophers Fichte and Schelling[2] which deal with what it means to be human and what makes humans different from all other creatures. Due to Morella's influence, the narrator also becomes interested in those works. He and Morella speak of almost nothing else. Morella talks excitedly about the idea of individuals' personalities surviving their deaths.

The narrator comes to actively dislike Morella. She is aware of this and does not appear to mind. Morella visibly sickens and the narrator finds himself longing for her death. On her deathbed, Morella says, "I am dying, yet shall I live." She also tells the narrator that, although he hated her while she was alive, he will love her after her death.

At the moment of her death, Morella gives birth to a daughter. The narrator never speaks to the girl about her mother. The child appears to grow up quickly and to be wise beyond her years. The narrator loves his daughter more than he thought it was possible to love anyone. He is, however, greatly unnerved by how much she resembles Morella in her appearance, her personality, her intelligence and her speech. Obsessive thoughts about how similar the girl is to her late mother come to torment the narrator.

For the first ten years of her life, the narrator's daughter has no name. He usually simply calls her "my child' or "my love". The narrator then decides to have the child baptized. He reasons that giving the child a name will distinguish her from Morella and put an end to his mental anguish. When the priest asks the narrator by what name the child is to be known, for reasons that he cannot explain, the narrator answers, "Morella".

At the moment that her father says the name, the girl collapses onto the floor of the church, beneath which is the family tomb. She cries out, "I am here!" She then dies. The narrator carries the body of his daughter down to the family tomb. He notices that the body of his late wife Morella has completely disappeared.

Adaptations

The first of the three segments in the 1962 American horror movie Tales of Terror, directed by Roger Corman, is a loose adaptation of "Morella".[3] The segment stars Mary Leona Gage as Morella, Maggie Pierce as Morella's daughter and Vincent Price as Morella's husband.

"Morella" was loosely adapted as the 1990 American horror film The Haunting of Morella. The movie, directed by Jim Wynorski, stars David McCallum as Morella's husband and Nicole Eggert as Morella and her daughter.

The Edgar Allan Poe stories "Morella", "The Imp of the Perverse" and "Berenice" are read by Vincent Price on the 1975 spoken word album The Imp of the Perverse and Other Tales.

See also

Footnotes

  1. Presburg (now known as Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia) had a reputation as a center for black magic.
  2. Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) were German philosophers whose works deal with the nature of self-consciousness and self-awareness.
  3. The other two segments in the 1962 film Tales of Terror are based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" in combination with "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar".

External links

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