Poe’s “The Raven”
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven has various symbols that set the depressing tone for the poem. One of the most important symbols within this poem is Lenore, the woman whom the narrator is completely distraught about. She symbolizes beauty and deep, unconditional love. Because Lenore represents those things, she brings a sense of purity and helplessness to the tone of the poem “The Raven.”
Although we do not know much about how she looks, Lenore symbolizes beauty which brings a sense of purity to the poem. Poe writes, “It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore ¾ / Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore” (690). The narrator uses “sainted maiden” to describe the deceased Lenore. By using that adjective, he is associating Lenore with a saint, which means she is the perfect, ideal woman. If Lenore is the ideal woman, she must have amazing qualities that make her even more beautiful. These qualities can be physical aspects or even attributes based on personality and skill. For instance, she can be an amazing housewife or a phenomenal companion, or even an exceptional listener. Depending on a person’s definition of beauty, all these qualities can make another person beautiful simply because of their outstanding characteristics. In addition, “sainted” can also characterize Lenore as angelic. The speaker also uses the adjectives “rare and radiant” to describe Lenore. If she is described as “sainted”, Lenore is a perfect, angelic woman. Consequently, those qualities make her quite rare. All these positive attributes that are associated with Lenore mean that she is very pure and perfect. Hence, Lenore as a symbol, bring a sense of purity to the poem because she is described with all these affirmative adjectives.
In addition to purity, Lenore as a symbol brings a sense of helplessness to the poem. For instance, Poe writes, “This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining / On the cushion’s velvet...
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