The Raven Poem | Summary | Analysis | Neb English Support

The Raven Poem | Summary | Analysis | Neb English Support
Neb English Support

The Raven Poem | Summary | Analysis | Neb English Support 

The Raven Poem 

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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" is a nostalgic poem though the title of the poem is Raven, a bird; but it does not deal so much with the bird as with the effects the bird has on a love-lorn student who has lost his beloved. Outwardly, the poem "The Raven" is about a student under very special circumstances and about what happens to him when a bird Raven enters his room.



The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

The poem opens with a student's narration of what happened on a bleak December night when the storm raged outside his room and anguish raged in his heart. He is weak, weary and dejected through the loss of his beloved Lenore. The uncertain rustling of each purple curtain intensifies this mood. There is rapping at the door. He is filled with terrors, which he never felt before. He takes the rapping as the rapping of the late visitor and he implores forgiveness for being late in opening the door. When he opens the door, he finds no one outside. He peers into the darkness, wondering, fearing, doubting, and dreaming terrible things. He closes the door but again he hears rapping this time at the window. He opens the door and to his surprise, a grim bird Raven steps in and sits upon the bust of Pallas.

The situation has developed from anticipation to suspense, then to surprise and then to irony. There is irony because it is the ugly raven that came in when the host was expecting the radiant maiden Lenore.

The Mystery disappears and tension is released. He asks the bird its name-Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Nights Plutonian shore?

To his surprise the bird replies, "Nevermore": But soon he knows that the bird repeats the same word. Yet this word relentlessly repeated the bird; intensifying his despair. The manner in which the despair is intensified is interesting. He takes the bird's visit as an unusual event and thinks that tomorrow this unique bird will fly away as other birds had done. But comes from the bird "Nevermore". He knows that but is repeating the same word, and even then he feels uncomfortable and disturbed. What is this mysterious power about the bird? He sits guessing, divining with his head reclining on the velvet lining. The velvet lining reminds him of Lenore. Now seeks remedial forgetfulness telling himself that he should forget this lost Lenore. But Raven replies "Nevermore". This is the reality because he cannot forget Lenore. He regards the bird as a prophet and he seeks an answer to the question of suffering and he asks) "is there, is there balm in Gilead?'
And again he hears the harsh reply-"Nevermore": If there is no freedom from pain, misery and anguish in this life, perhaps he might find happiness in life to come and he asks the bird-Is there not hope after death? But this time also bird answers cruelly-"Nevermore". This answer further accelerates his despair. In unbearable despair, he orders the bird to get back into the tempest and to quit the bust above his door. But again the bird says "Nevermore".

Now the student feels so helpless, so shattered and so overwhelmed with anguish that he loses his identity. He can not live without hope and selfhood. The word "Nevermore" has acted like a catalytic agent.

In this brilliant narrative structure, the conversational tone places the reader in the position of confidant. The poem can also be considered a dramatization of his despair. The persona here in the poem is "weak and weary"! He does not face the situation and accept the loss of Lenore in a manly frame of mind. He tries to escape from the reality plunging into "quaint and curious" volumes. The poem hints that when man tries to run away from life, however harsh it might be, he is likely to make it worse for himself.

Poe has created a vibrant background for the introduction of the word "Nevermore". This background consists of sorrow, mystery and a nameless terror. The first nevermore contains the element of mystery about it. Later the mystery is solved; the bird meaninglessly repeats the word learnt perhaps from an unfortunate master. The status of the word has fallen from mystery to meaninglessness. Similarly, the last "Nevermore" suggest crushing despair with a sharp edge of terror in it.

The raven, for the student, is a mere bird at first it becomes an object of mystery when it sits on the bust of Pallas. Then as it utters the word "nevermore", the mystery deepens and the repeated word acquires an emotional significance to the student. The bird becomes endowed with a personality that depresses him. Finally, it is a lengthened shadow.



The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

▪︎  The poem was revised more than 16 times before coming to this form.

▪︎  Extensive use of alliteration.

▪︎  The continuous flowing of lines.

▪︎  Progression of the word he uses in poetry-evermore, nothing more, nevermore makes the poem musical.



The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

The Raven is the symbol of  destruction or death.

Bust of Pallas is the symbol of a scholar or author.

Midnight and December suggest the end of something and also denote change that is to come.

The room/place symbolizes the loneliness and alienation that the author is undergoing.

Tempest outside suggests the loneliness that the man inside the room is undergoing.

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