28 pages 56 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1835

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Character Analysis


Egæus is the protagonist of the story and one of Poe’s only named narrators. His name is taken from Greek mythology, referencing the Athenian King Aegeus, who was the father of the hero Theseus. Notably, Aegeus died of grief due to a misunderstanding. He instructed his son Theseus to raise a white sail on his ship when he returned to Athens as a sign that he survived his battle with the minotaur, but Theseus forgot these instructions. As a result, Aegeus threw himself into the sea because of his grief. Like the classical hero, Poe’s Egæus also rashly assumes someone to be dead when they are not, to his own destruction.

Egæus claims that he is from an important and ancient family that seems to have some connection to the European aristocracy. His family mansion has frescoes, tapestries, and an armory with buttresses, all of which suggest that they were aristocrats during the medieval era, when Gothic architecture was prominent. He also claims that “our line has been called a race of visionaries” (333), associating his ancestors with the mystical and the divine but also potentially implying some form of hereditary disordered thinking.

Scholarship and mental pursuits seem to consume Egæus more than emotions.