The Raven

Topics: Poetry, The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe Pages: 14 (744 words) Published: December 18, 2014
THE RAVEN
BY

EDGAR ALLAN POE

THE RAVEN - SETTING
The chamber of a house at midnight.
Poe uses the word chamber rather than
bedroom apparently because chamber
has a dark and mysterious
connotation.  
 
 

THE RAVEN - NARRATION

First-Person Narrator (Persona) A
man who has lost his beloved, a
woman named Lenore. He is
depressed, lonely,  
and possibly mentally unstable 
as a result of his 
bereavement. 

THE RAVEN - SOURCE
INSPIRATION

OF

The raven in Charles Dickens' 1841 novel,
Barnaby Rudge, a historical novel about antiCatholic riots in London in 1780 in which a mentally retarded person (Barnaby) is falsely
accused of participating. Barnaby owns a pet
raven, Grip, which can speak. In the 
fifth chapter of the novel, Grip taps 
at a shutter (as in Poe's poem). 

The model for Grip was Dickens' own
talking raven, which was the delight of his
children. It was the first of three ravens
owned by Dickens, all named Grip. After the
first Grip died, it was stuffed and mounted.
An admirer of Poe's works acquired
and mounted the bird and donated 
it to the Free Library of 
Philadelphia, where it is on display 
today. 

THE RAVEN - A GLORIFIED CROW

A raven, which can be up to two
feet long, is a type of crow. Ravens
eat small animals, carrion, fruit, and
seeds. They often appear in
legend and literature as
sinister omens. 

THE RAVEN - THEME

Theme: The death of a beautiful
woman, as lamented by her
bereaved lover.  

THE RAVEN - WORD CHOICE
As in his short stories, Poe is careful to use
primarily words that contribute to the overall
atmosphere and tone of the poem. These
words include weary, dreary, bleak, dying,
sorrow, sad, darkness, stillness, mystery,
ebony, grave, stern, lonely, grim,
ghastly, and gaunt.  

THE RAVEN - SOUND

AND

RHYTHM

The melancholy tone of "The Raven" relies as much
on its musical sound and rhythmic pattern as on the
meaning of the words. To achieve his musical effect,
Poe uses rhyming words in the same line (internal
rhyme), a word at the end of one line that rhymes with
a word at the end of another line (end rhyme),
alliteration (a figure of speech that repeats a
consonant sound), and a regular pattern of accented
and
unaccented syllables. This pattern uses a
stressed syllable followed by an
unstressed syllable,with a total of sixteen
syllables in each line.

 
Here is an example (the first line of the poem):  
 

.......ONCE u PON a MID night DREAR y, WHILE i POND ered
WEAK and WEAR y  
 

In this line, the capitalized letters represent
the stressed syllables and the lower-cased
letters, the unstressed ones. Notice that the
line has sixteen syllables in all. 
Notice, too, that the line has
internal rhyme (dreary and weary) 
and alliteration (while, weak, weary).  

THE RAVEN - WHO

IS

LENORE?

It is possible that Lenore, the idealized
deceased woman in the poem,
represents Poe’s beloved wife, Virginia,
who was in poor health when Poe
wrote "The Raven." She died 
two years after the publication
of the poem, when she was 
only in her mid-twenties.  

THE RAVEN - CRITICISM
Some reviewers in Poe’s day, including poet
Walt Whitman, criticized “The Raven” for its singsong, highly emotional quality. The poem is still criticized today–and often parodied–for the same
reason. However, the consensus of critics and
ordinary readers appears to
that the poem is a meticulously crafted 
work of genius and fully deserves its
standing as one of the most popular 
poems in American literature. It is 
indeed a great work. 

THE RAVEN - SUMMARY

It is midnight on a cold evening in December in
the 1840s. In a dark and shadowy bedroom,
wood burns in the fireplace as a man laments
the death of Lenore, a woman he deeply
loved. To occupy his mind, he reads
a book of ancient stories. But a 
tapping noise disturbs him. When
he opens the door to the bedroom,
he sees...
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