Poe's Short Stories

The Reincarnation of Officer Oldeb: Character Relationships in "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" College

In “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” by Edgar Allen Poe, an unknown narrator recounts the circumstances that led to Augustus Bedloe’s mysterious death. The equally strange Dr. Templeton treats Bedloe, who suffers from neuralgia, using the practice of mesmerism along with high doses of morphine. During the course of the story, Bedloe experiences a dream-like vision where he is transported to India in the midst of a battle, taking the place of a young officer and undergoing death as if it was real. Even more bizarre is that once Bedloe returns from his fugue state, Dr. Templeton has written his version of the same war, in which his dearest friend, Oldeb, dies in the exact same way. The final turn of events occurs near the end of the story, when Dr. Templeton “accidently” kills Bedloe with a poisonous leech to the temple, identical to where Oldeb was struck with an arrow fifty years earlier. The obituary reveals another similarity, as Bedloe’s name is missing an e―thereby spelling Oldeb in reverse. The reader is left with many perplexing questions, the most obvious being: did Dr. Templeton actually mean to kill Bedloe? Given the magnetic rapport connecting the two, the inexplicable resemblance between Bedloe and Oldeb, and the...

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