When Maria Clemm hints that Virginia may move, Poe asks for <her> hand

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OED Loves Me Not

Senior Member
Japanese - Osaka
Hello, friends! Without much ado, let me show you the context:

[In a chronology of Edgar Allan Poe the poet]
1934-35 (...) When Maria Clemm hints that Virginia may move into a cousin's home,
Poe asks for her hand, and (....)
(then, seven lines later)
1836 [Poe] marries Virginia Clemm in May, shortly before her fourteenth birthday; (....).

Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales
The Library of America, pp.1363-1364
Now, could anybody please enlighten me as to whether there is a rule or anything similar
concerning which preceding noun the pronoun she is supposed to refer to in the above context?
Now, more in general, is there any tip for how to decide which preceding noun
is referred to by the subsequent pronoun (he or she)?

For your information, nowhere in the preceding part of the chronology can I find
any description hinting that Poe had any interest at all in Virginia, the daughter of
Maria Clemm, with both of whom he resided in those days.

Thank you very much indeed for your time.
  • waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It has to be understood in context - does it not seem less likely that Poe would have been asking for the hand of Maria (Virginia's mother, and Poe's own aunt - their relationship should be described earlier in the chronology) in marriage instead?
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    As a general rule, it is understood that the antecedent of a pronoun is the last noun preceding it that has a corresponding gender and number, and that meets the context. Since we do not know the gender of the cousin, and since "home" is neuter, the noun that precedes "she" which best meets this requirement is "Virginia."
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