The Raven: Creating the Melancholic Tone
Edgar Poe’s “The Raven”, representing Poe’s own introverted crisis of hell, is unusually moving and attractive to the reader. In his essay entitled “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe reveals his purpose in writing “The Raven” and also describes the work of composing the poem as being carefully calculated in all aspects. Of all melancholy topics, Poe use the one that is universally understood, death, which specifically involves a beautiful woman. The apparent tone in “The Raven” seemingly represents a very painful condition of mind, an intellect prone to madness and the dreadful melancholy brought upon by the death of a beloved lady. The parallelism of Poe’s own personal problems, with those of the narrator in the poem, his calculated use of symbolism, and the articulation of language through the use of the raven’s refrain, the reader becomes aware of Poe’s prominent tone of melancholy.
A strong device for the melancholic tone in the poem is Poe’s use of the first person. Poe used the first person because of the situations in “The Raven” taking direct influence from Poe’s life experiences. For instance Poe’s beloved wife Virginnia, died after a long bout with consumption. The narrator’s sorrow for the lost Lenore is paralleled with Poe’s own grief regarding the death of his wife. Confined in the chamber are memories of who had frequented it. These ghostly recollections cultivate an enormous motive in the reader to know and be relieved of the bewilderment that plagues the narrator and consequently Poe himself; the narrator ponders whether he will see his beloved in the afterlife. Poe attempted to alleviate his grief of Virginnia’s somber death by means of alcohol consumption. A connection is formed in the poem between the condescending actions of the raven towards the narrator and the taunting of alcohol towards Poe. The raven condescends that Poe will never see his lost love again when uttering, “forget...
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