Berenice: overview, and everything you need to know

Berenice was written by Edgar Allan Poe and published in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835. A gothic tale of intrigue, terror, psychology and obsession between two cousins and protagonists named Egaeus and Berenice. Discover this incredible short story that caused quite a stir in its time.


Summary of Berenice

The story of Berenice begins with the introduction of Egaeus, a melancholic, lonely boy in a cocoon of meditation. When he was born and took his first breath, his mother died. He also tells of his stay with his parents, the main reason for his love of reading and his delirious and unreal thoughts. Another great book is The Continuity of Parks.


However, the story continues with the mention of his cousin Berenice and his fascination with her attitude to life, a cheerful girl who radiates light wherever she goes, unlike him, Egaeus, whose world was centred on books and who lived in isolation from the real world, with his thoughts.

One day Berenice falls ill with epilepsy, which later becomes catalepsy, a disease that degenerates the nerves. Observed daily by the afflicted Egaeus, Berenice loses her essence and her brilliant personality. It is from here that the disease Egaeus also suffers from is discovered, a compulsive obsession with something, technically known as monomania.


With this in mind, Egaeus begins to brood over books, searching for the reasons why his beloved has fallen ill. Until one day, Egaeus believes he sees Berenice standing in front of him in a pitiful state, her white teeth protruding, which is the catalyst for an obsession with her.

Egaeus spends his days thinking, analysing and meditating on his cousin’s teeth, even dreaming of her ghostly appearance. Suddenly, he hears the cry of one of the maids, announcing Bernice’s demise.


During the night, Egaeus finds himself in a confused fog of reality, confused by the time he cannot remember, but feeling that he has done something wrong. A servant enters with horrified eyes and tells him that his cousin had been disfigured in life and buried alive.

The servant points to Egaeus and his clothes, showing the garment stained with blood and mud, a shovel found on the spot, and the small box that had fallen from Egaeus’ unsteady hands, the 32 white teeth of his cousin Berenice.

The story of Berenice

The story tells of the engaged Egaeus and Berenice, who, due to an unexpected illness, becomes completely immobile and lifeless, except for the teeth, which Egaeus becomes obsessed with. If you want to read another horror novel, The Mask of the Red Death is the one for you.


One day, during one of Egaeus’ meditations, Berenice dies, causing him to increase his hallucinations and compulsive behaviour. Until a servant enters his room and tells him of his cousin’s attack and disfigurement. Egaeus sees his clothes, the shovel and the box containing Berenice’s teeth.

Characters of Berenice

  • Egaeus: The main character and the one who tells the story. A young man with a compulsive behaviour of obsession and meditation, to such an extreme that the book reflects the loss of reality and time. Egaeus is also described as an avid reader and a lover of silence.


  • Berenice: This character appears in the description of her cousin Egaeus. A girl who, before her illness, was lively, beautiful, cheerful and adventurous. After her illness with epilepsy, she becomes an empty shell. If you want to read an interesting story, I recommend City of Fallen Angels.
  • Mother of Egaeus: This character is named at the beginning of the story, during the narration of Egaeus’ birth.


It should be noted that these characters were inspired by Edgar’s wife, Virginia Clemm. His mother, who died when he was very young. And Edgar himself.

Editorial by Berenice

The story was written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1835. It was published by the American newspaper Southern Literary Messenger, which published short stories, poems, narratives and others. Between 1834 and 1864.


Berenice film

There have been several films inspired by Edgar Poe’s stories, such as The Masque of the Red Death, The Tomb of Lygia and The Raven. Now, in 1954, Frenchman Éric Rohmer directed, acted and wrote the screenplay for the short film based on this story. A story about the obsession of the character Egaeus and his cousin.

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