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"Berenice" Summary

By Edgar Allan Poe

horror | 24 pages | Published in NaN

Berenice is a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The tale is centered on the death of a young girl, named Berenice, and the mysterious visions of her cousin, Egaeus.


Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

A man becomes obsessed with his cousin's teeth, leading to a tragic and disturbing end.


"Berenice" is a short horror story written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1835. This Gothic tale delves into themes of obsession, morbidity, and the dark recesses of the human psyche. The story is set in an unspecified location, adding to the sense of ambiguity and unease that permeates the narrative.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is narrated by Egaeus, a young man from a wealthy family who resides in a gloomy and ancient mansion. The setting is characterized by its eerie atmosphere and decaying grandeur, setting the stage for the unfolding of the macabre events.

Egaeus is fixated on his cousin, Berenice, who is described as ethereal and delicate. However, his infatuation with her transcends the bounds of normal affection and veers into the realm of obsession. As Berenice's health deteriorates, Egaeus becomes increasingly fixated on her teeth, fixating on their beauty and perfection.

Main Characters

EgaeusThe protagonist, consumed by an unhealthy obsession with his cousin, Berenice.
BereniceEgaeus' cousin, described as ethereal and delicate. Her declining health becomes a focal point of the story.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1: The Obsession Unfolds

Egaeus introduces himself, establishing his fixation on his cousin, Berenice. He dwells on her ethereal beauty and deteriorating health, setting the tone for the narrative.

Chapter 2: The Descent into Madness

As Berenice's health declines further, Egaeus becomes increasingly fixated on her teeth, obsessing over their perceived perfection. His mental state deteriorates as his fixation intensifies.

Chapter 3: The Gruesome Act

In a state of delirium, Egaeus becomes consumed by a compulsion to possess one of Berenice's teeth. He descends into madness, driven by his morbid fixation on her dental perfection.

Chapter 4: The Shocking Revelation

After a period of unconsciousness, Egaeus awakens to a scene of horror. He discovers that he has fulfilled his morbid compulsion, but the consequences of his actions lead to a shocking revelation.

Main Events

The main events in "Berenice" revolve around Egaeus' descent into obsession and madness, culminating in a horrifying act that unravels the delicate fabric of his reality. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a decaying mansion, adding to the sense of foreboding and decay.

Themes and Insights


  • Obsession: The story delves into the destructive nature of obsession, portraying Egaeus' fixation on Berenice as a descent into madness.
  • Morbidity: Poe explores themes of morbidity and decay, both in the physical sense and as a reflection of Egaeus' unraveling mental state.
  • Isolation: The isolated and decaying mansion serves as a metaphor for Egaeus' psychological isolation and detachment from reality.


Poe's exploration of obsession and its consequences offers insight into the darker facets of human nature. The story serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the destructive potential of unchecked fixation and the fragility of the human mind.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "Berenice" are confronted with a chilling exploration of obsession, madness, and the macabre. The story serves as a haunting reminder of the fragility of the human psyche and the perils of unchecked fixation.


In "Berenice," Edgar Allan Poe crafts a chilling narrative that delves into the depths of obsession and madness. Set against the backdrop of a decaying mansion, the story unfolds with an atmosphere of unease and foreboding, drawing readers into the dark recesses of the human psyche. Through the characters of Egaeus and Berenice, Poe explores themes of obsession, morbidity, and isolation, offering readers a haunting tale that lingers in the mind long after the final page.

Berenice FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Berenice' by Edgar Allan Poe?

    Berenice is a Gothic horror short story, known for its macabre and unsettling themes.

  2. What is the plot of 'Berenice'?

    The story follows Egaeus, who becomes fixated on his cousin, Berenice, and her teeth. As her health deteriorates, Egaeus is consumed by an obsessive desire for her teeth, leading to a shocking and gruesome conclusion.

  3. What are the major themes in 'Berenice'?

    Themes in 'Berenice' include obsession, madness, and the morbid fascination with death and decay.

  4. Is 'Berenice' suitable for readers who are sensitive to horror and graphic content?

    No, 'Berenice' contains disturbing and graphic content, and may not be suitable for readers who are sensitive to horror and violence.

  5. What is the significance of the title 'Berenice'?

    The title 'Berenice' refers to the name of the main character, whose fate is central to the story's disturbing events.