The writer of these words was enchanted by darkness...thrilled by death. What sort of person would spend their whole life linking hands with Death and her counterparts? Quite possibly a literary genius by the name of Edgar Allan Poe. Famous for romanticizing the darker, more Gothic side of life, E.A. Poe had quite a collection of works from his lesser-known stories to his most famous poem, "The Raven." This great man's life has been analyzed to death (no pun intended) to find keys to unlock the maze of his apparent creativity. Here, the reader will find only an in depth look at "The Raven", information on the author's life and lifestyle, a brief look at other Poe works, criticism on his writings, and some unusual ways his fame has been Honored. To begin with, "The Raven" holds a dark sense of elegance, which has been appealing to many since it was written in 1845.
The theme of "The Raven" is simple: a man suffering the loss of his love is visited by a speaking raven, whose repetitious, meaningless answers torture him to the point of insanity (see Appendix R) (Decoder, Internet). The feeling of lost love portrayed in the poem might have reflected the death of Poe's wife, Virginia, in 1847 (Qrisse, Internet). As it is read, a definite rhyme scheme is present: internal rhyme in the first and third line and end rhymes in lines two, four, and five. All eighteen stanzas of the poem are arranged like this, but Poe never makes it seems unexciting or repetitious. Probably the most noticeable and most brilliant aspect of "The Raven" is it's saturation of symbolism. The raven (see Appendix R) itself is the main symbol, representing the man's self-torture uncovered in the work. Because the raven does not comprehend or reason its answers, it allows the man to interpret them however his mind allows, which gives the reader a look at the mind's unstable mind state. The bust of Pallas that the raven perches upon to preach its "wisdom" is another strong symbol. Pallas is the goddess of wisdom, and an eerie feeling is felt as the raven sits upon it and appears to speak nonsense. When questioned about his reasoning for using the bust of Pallas in his poem, Poe replied because of the "sonorous of the word, Pallas, itself." Two other symbols that are not so apparent are the use of "midnight" and "December." Both signify darkness, an end, or a change to something new. The chamber the narrator speaks from could be interpreted as a symbol, as it represents loneliness. The expensive furnishings of the chamber appear to say that the beauty and riches the man surrounds himself in will not replace his love (Qrisse, Internet). Edgar Allan Poe entwined all these symbols in "The Raven," a deliciously twisted poem about the death of beauty and the heartache it causes.
Poe lived a solitary, reckless life, which included the use of alcohol and drugs. Born in 1809 to parents, Eliza Poe and David Poe Jr., he was orphaned before the age of three. His father died at the age of 36 and his mother died at 24 from tuberculosis (Payge's, Internet). Poe was sent live with foster parents, John and Fanny Allan (see Appendix J). In 1826, he entered the University of Virginia. He was a good student, but eventually turned to gambling to pay debts. It was during this time that Poe had his first romantic interest, which ended on a harsh note (see Appendix E). Despite grades and ambition, Poe had to leave college because of lack of money. A year later, he enlisted in the army for two years, after which he entered WestPoint. Then, halting his solitary life, Edgar married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia, in 1836. On October 5, 1849, he was found unconscious and on drugs; three days later he died, possibly of rabies (Qrisse, Internet). Edgar Allan Poe's appearance is a surprisingly interesting topic, one that may be addressed with some importance. Poe was apparently an attractive, fit man (perhaps due to his earlier, short-lived military career). He also...
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