Sadness and Depression in The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

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Morals of Mourning in “The Raven”

Edgar Allen Poe lived a life of sadness and depression. His works usually depicted that quite well. One of his works that showed a lot of bleak and sorrowful feelings in it was his poem named “The Raven.” In the story a man is dozing in his home late at night after looking at some lore that he was using to distract himself. But he is woken up by a strange sound. The story basically explains how the man feels and what he is going through in his mind at this strange time. The lonely and sad man is actually trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, and Poe mentions what the man is trying to do, which could be taken as advice if one wanted it enough.

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The man was reading some lore that is supposed to be old and unique, therefore giving it an interesting quality that makes him want to read it. But since it was late he was falling asleep while reading it. Then suddenly a soft tapping at his door woke him up and made him start thinking about what he was doing before he fell asleep. The man recalled reading those books to distract him, or to cease his sorrowful thinking for the lost Lenore (ln 10). Poe seems to be mentioning how the man was temporarily in relief both when he was reading and thinking about something else, and when he was asleep. When the man fell asleep he was finally taking a break from his troubles, as many have done and will do to escape for a time from reality.

When the strange sound awoke the man, he was frightened, but mustered up the courage to look outside and see what was going on. He had assumed there were some visitors at his door, but the fact that it was so late at night when he heard them is what made him so nervous. When he opened the door there was no one and nothing there, so he closed the door and moved on. But yet he heard another tapping, louder this time and was thinking, “maybe the tapping is from the window. When he opened it the bird stepped in with “many a flirt and flutter, (ln 37)” and actually fascinated the man into allowing the black bird to distract and interest him (ln 43). Poe could be saying that one might use just about anything to take their mind off of the sorrow and pain of losing a loved one. So even though the bird is a “ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore (ln 46), the man decided to acknowledge the presence of that bird and the personality the bird showed.

But the next few things the man does while talking with the bird is to allow the raven to bother him without even trying. When the man mentions aloud that he assumes the bird will eventually leave the raven says “Nevermore (ln 61).” In reality, a phrase such as this coming from a bird should not be taken seriously, but here is the start of the man’s madness as he starts to believe the raven anyway.

The man moved a chair to sit in front of the raven so he could better look at and talk to the bird. He wanted to know why the bird kept saying the word “Nevermore. (ln 73).” But as the man was thinking and guessing as to why the bird would say that, his thoughts soon wandered again to his lost love. The man said aloud to himself that “thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!” (ln 83) and that he should accept God’s gift and let it heal him. But the raven says “Nevermore” like as if the bird does not want the man to feel better (ln 85). Poe seems to mention yet again that taking your mind off of things that bother you for a time will help the healing process. Or at least it should.

So after the raven says the solemn word yet again and again at what just seems to be the wrong time, the man freaks out and starts demanding answers of the raven, as if the bird understood what he was saying. In reality, or in a sane man’s mind, the bird would not know what was being talked about, and yes the bird could be shooed away or blown off, which is probably what Poe could be referencing. Poe must be saying that yes it is ok to take one’s mind off of what is troubling them, but no, do not let what that trouble seep negativity into that activity, and do not let what activity that is being used seep negativity into one’s heart either.

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