“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is undoubtedly the dark poet’s most acclaimed work, and subsequently one of the most famous poems ever written. These facts come as no surprise once one reads this enigmatic narrative poem and examines the themes and symbolism that Poe so precisely exudes through his text. “The Raven” tells the story of an unnamed narrator who is mourning the loss of his love Lenore when a mysterious talking raven visits him. The narrator’s conversation with the raven slowly marks his descent into lunacy. Through his text, Poe eloquently displays themes of loss, madness, and loneliness. Poe’s dialect, tone, and style only reinforce these themes and make them more prevalent to the reader.
The first theme revealed through Poe’s discourse is unquestionably loss. The narrator first mentions his absent lover in the ninth line of the poem. “From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the lost Lenore- For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-“ (Poe). This excerpt is merely the introduction to the narrator’s anguish over Lenore, which continues throughout the entire work. Through this quotation, Poe presents the reader with another theme that seems to reoccur within the poem, the theme of the divine. The narrator cherishes Lenore so much that his connects her to an angel. This theme of the divine also serves as symbolism later in the poem when the narrator starts to feel the presence of angels stating “Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from and unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.” (Poe) The symbolism comes within the same stanza when the narrator becomes confused by the association of angels with the raven and becomes angry calling the bird a “prophet” and a “thing of evil” (Poe). From this point on in the poem, the narrator, as well as the reader, start to associate the raven with darkness; therefore it becomes a symbol of malevolence. These themes of loss and...
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