A theme in literature is defined as the main idea that underlies the literary work or the main message the writer is trying to pass across through a story, play or a poem. It is basically what creates the story or the literary work. Some of the best examples of themes include love, hate, war, friendship, and fear among many others which cannot be exhausted.
The theme of madness is clearly demonstrated in the play. The story revolves around a sick man whose madness is manifested in supernatural ways. It explores both physical illnesses together with mental illness and tries to bring out the impact of the two to the people who are very close to the affected persons. In this case, the main character is perceived as not mad, but his house has been overtaken by his sister who has come back from the dead. It is therefore inferred that the madness is not the real madness but just an imaginary one. His reactions are just as the result of his sister’s spirit that has come back to haunt him. Madness in this piece of writing is brought out as an imaginary one but not the real madness.
Poe has also explored the theme of love and hate. The two in the play have been used together making it difficult for them to be separated. The narrator for this case is brought out as someone who depicts the two aspects in equal measures. He has the love for himself and also has hate towards other persons especially the ones he considers to be his enemies. At one point, he confesses that he loves an older woman whom he murders at the end. In this, he tries to justify the fact he was trying to separate the old woman whom he loved so much from the evil eyes of the woman which he hated most.
The power of the dead over the living has also been brought out as one of the major themes in the play. In his writing, Poe brings back the dead through memories. Memories are what bring the dead to live. In the story Ligeia, we see the narrator unable to keep away the memories of his wife. The memories keep on haunting him even with the second wife who is still alive. As Ligeia dies, her memories keep on painting a picture of her in the bedroom that haunts her husband. In this sense, therefore, the dead are perceived to have a significant impact on the living. This is because, as they die, they are made to come back in the form of memories to their loved ones who are still alive.
The themes as discussed above have contributed to the flow of the story. One of the major significance of the themes is that they help the readers to appreciate some important and fundamental aspects of the society. For any society to exist there must be love. At the same time, love does not exist without hate Poe lets us know that there is a very thin line between love and hate. Through the theme of the power of the dead over the living, the reader is made to understand the fact that the dead still has some control over the living. Death is never the end of it all.