The madness of grief personified.
Passionately in love with Ligeia, his wife, until she dies and he becomes obsessed with every detail of her memory. Later marrying Lady Rowena because he secretly likes that she ‘shunned’ him at every turn and that she’s Ligeia’s opposite in every way, but despite this he hates her because she’s not the one he loved most.
Unfortunately, Rowena succumbs to the same illness as his first wife: consumption (tuberculosis). At her bedside, high on opium he thinks of his love for Liegia and her demise, and on glancing at the body on the bed he believes he witnesses some imaginary sign of life in Rowena’s corpse. Frantically, he does everything he can to revive her, until Ligeia’s visage transforms Rowena’s body.
The horror of his misfortune was obviously too much for his tortured psyche to handle. Sadly, this correlates with Poe’s real life experience. His mother died when he was a infant, his father abandoned him soon after, his foster mother died, and then his wife died after more than a decade of marriage. That’s more than any one soul should have to bear. Condemned to walk alone and probably terrified to love anyone in case his curse catches up with him.
Ligeia predates The Raven by about seven years, although it goes without saying that they go hand-in-hand, both detailing the insanity brought on by the grief and loss of a dearly beloved wife.
This isn’t my first ride on the psychologically intriguing Poe-horror-go-round, and it won’t be my last.