Meaning of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven Essay

Meaning of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven Essay

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     Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" employs a raven itself as a symbol of the torture, mainly the self-inflicted torture, of the narrator over his lost love, Lenore.     

The raven, it can be argued, is possibly a figment of the imagination of the narrator, obviously distraught over the death of Lenore. The narrator claims in the first stanza that he is weak and weary (731). He is almost napping as he hears the rapping at the door, which could quite possibly make the sound something he heard in a near dream-like state, not an actual sound.

He is terrified of being alone in the chamber he is in when the poem takes place. The "sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before" (731). When the poem opens, he is reading over books of "forgotten lore" (731). His imagination is probably already running wild. His surroundings are conducive to the situation he finds himself in. The word "chamber" itself implies a cold, rigid feel, like the narrator has shut himself away from everything in order to be alone to brood and torture himself.

The words "ghost" and "dying ember" give the reader a feeling of discomfort, like something is not quite right with the situation. The narrator opens the chamber door into darkness, deep darkness, and silence. He stands there, fearing what is before him, "dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before" (732). December is also the time of year when most plants are dead, to which extent the narrator remarks that it is a "bleak December", making for a dismal scene both outside and inside the chamber. There is also a "tempest", a storm, brewing outside, not good for calming the spirits of the narrator.

Thoughts are running through his head and it is safe to say that he is frightening himself more than the situation merits at this point. He says he has to still the beating of his heart by repeating outside the door, "'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door" (731). He is literally trying to talk himself down from the frightened state he is in. The mind is the most powerful tool of one's imagination, and the narrator's is definitely working in overdrive.

Given the language used by the narrator and the surroundings he has placed himself in, one could think that the whole story was a figment of the narrator's imagination. Just like when watching...

... middle of paper ...

...ven sitting on the chair.

As the poem comes to a close, we see that the narrator will forever be reminded of death and the fact that he, as a part of his nature, cannot understand it. And he will be forever reminded of Lenore and his loss, as the raven is sitting there above the door-"and the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door?" (734).

The raven plays an important part in the poem, hence the title, "The Raven." The raven has so many meanings: death, sorrow, fear, frustration, and the self-inflicted torture of the narrator. All these things can attest to the mental state of the narrator due to the loss of Lenore.

"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door," he pleads. But the raven will not go. The raven will sit above the narrator's door every day for eternity to remind the narrator that he cannot understand death. And left under the shadow the raven casts on the floor is the soul of the narrator that shall be lifted-nevermore!

Works Cited

McMichael, George, et al. Anthology of American Literature, 7th ed., vol. 1. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, 2000.

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