The Raven Mood and Tone

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Throughout the poem, literary devices are used to express the sadness that Poe is trying to show us. Although the narrator goes mad, seeing as how he was conversing with a raven, at the end of the poem he still tells himself that he will go to heaven and see his dead lover once again. The speaker is trying to refuse to think about the subject of death. But the bird refuses to leave. This is how the shadow of death stays with us as we grow old. The poem is about an allegedly young man who is sitting alone on a dark and very bleak December night pining over the loss of his one true love Lenore. He is reading books of lore to help ease the pain of his loss. He's is woken up by a raven tapping against the window. At first, he tries making sense of what the tapping could be and then notices the bird by the window. He begs the bird to leave him be to once again think his dark thoughts, but the tapping continues. He then allows the raven in, but all the raven seems to do is add to his grief.

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When after each inquiry he gives the bird it only responds as nevermore. At first, the nevermore response is taken as a silly bird that has only learned only one word and has accidentally flown from his master place, but when the bird actually makes his appearance and sits upon the bust of Pallus the young narrator starts to think maybe there is more to this raven than meets the eye.

He then realizes that the bird that seems like it is troubling him is actually an angel in disguise and that it was sent to overcome his grief. Poe continues to resist the bird’s message and asks it to leave; therefore, deciding to hang on to his sorrow. The narrator realizes that Lenore has been lost forever, never to return. And the narrator comes to hate the raven for this. He so desperately wants to hold on to the illusion that Lenore will one day come back. Poe uses imagery in this poem. The bird is black, representing darkness. The room is filled with shadows, which helps Poe create a gloomy mood. The raven slowly terrifies the narrator, which causes him to believe the bird is nothing but the image of a demon. His shadow at the end of the poem creates a sense of despair for the narrator. 'And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain' - This shows the reader how slowly the curtains are moving, emphasizing unsettling atmosphere. 'Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-Perched, and sat, and nothing more.' - Here we can visualize a raven sitting in front of his door waiting for Poe to let it in. 'Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,' - Opening line of 'The Raven' introduces us to the weak emotional state of the narrator.

Poe also uses a metaphor in the poem. Poe personifies the raven, making it more mysterious than the average raven should be. As the poem progresses, the raven becomes a prophet and then it turns into a devil. Poe compares Raven's eyes to a demon: “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.” Poe shows his belief that after a person dies his ghost remains: 'And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.'

Poe sees the bird as evil as the bird 'helps' he realize that Elenore is not coming back and he has to face his sorrow. He compares a bird to the devil: 'Prophet!' said I, 'thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil! An alliteration, the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words, can add to the overall tone of the poem, giving it a rhythmic sound. “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” Here Poe repeats the “d” sound in “deep”, “darkness”, “doubting”, “dreaming”, “dreams”, “dared”, and “dream”. “While I pondered weak and weary”, the 'we sound repeats in 'while', 'weak', and 'weary'. “I nodded, nearly napping”, the 'n' sound repeats in 'nodded', 'nearly', and 'napping'.

Works cited

  1. Poe, E. A. (1845). The Raven. The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art, and Science, 1(5), 308-310.
  2. Meyers, J. (1992). Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press.
  3. Wagenknecht, E. (1963). Edgar Allan Poe: The Man Behind the Legend. Oxford University Press.
  4. Quinn, A. H. (1941). Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. John Hopkins Press.
  5. Silverman, K. (1992). Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. Harper Collins.
  6. Fogle, R. H. (1963). The Imagery of Edgar Allan Poe. Louisiana State University Press.
  7. Sova, D. (2001). The Raven and the Monkey's Paw: Classics of Horror and Suspense from the Modern Library. Modern Library.
  8. Kennedy, X. J., & Gioia, D. (2004). Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing (9th ed.). Pearson Education.
  9. Jackson, D. M. (2005). The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849. G. K. Hall & Co.
  10. Faust, D. (1979). The Symbolism of Edgar Allan Poe. University of Georgia Press.

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