The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis
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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Analysis

Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poem, The Raven, starts with "Once upon a midnight dreary..." which is a ubiquitously recognizable phrase. The poem became especially renowned after its first publication. Moreover, it has weathered the power of time and still remains one of the top poems partly because of the fact that in his essay Philosophy of Composition, the author elucidates a method that became a framework for the given poem. Whether or not that clarification accurately describes the way the work was produced, it definitely provides an insight into the central premise of the story. In such a way, Poe himself pioneered in the interpretation and critique of his own literary work.

Poe intended to produce an effect of beauty associated with melancholic feelings in the poem. He thought that the refrain "nevermore", uttered by the raven to a young man whose beloved one had recently passed away was a felicitous tactic to achieve the desirable effect. The setting, the main character, and the plot of the story were all composed to serve as a pretext for introducing the "nevermore" phrase, which arises with a different meaning and influence.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Summary

As for the plot, the author tried to omit any complexities or intricate twists. On one stormy night, the young student is reading in his chamber, thinking about the deceased woman, who he passionately loves and can't forget. After hearing the noise of tapping outside, he opens a window and lets a raven in. The raven can utter only one word - "nevermore". Being mystified by this phenomenon, the student keeps asking the raven questions, and its recurrent reply "nevermore" melancholically echoes back in his heart. Even though he is aware that the bird can answer only with one word, he is thrilled by what Poe calls a human need for self-torture and keeps asking the raven questions to which the answer "nevermore" will amplify his suffering.

The grief of the young man and the unsettling weather in the midnight hour intensify the overall effect. However, the most stunning fact is that the refrain "nevermore" and the name of the deceased mistress "Lenore" are intertwined. The "nevermore" phrase is followed by its echo "Lenore", which is further stressed in stanza 5.

Once the reader realizes that the lost Lenore is the source of the student's bereavement, the emergence of the raven as the embodiment of this sorrow becomes poetically sensible. Nevertheless, the student is puzzled by the appearance of the bird and tries to decipher the meaning of the repeated phrase "nevermore". When he exclaims that maybe god has sent the raven to signify that his grief and constant images of Lenore conjuring up in his head are over, the bird's answer "nevermore" impels him to call it "prophet". Being obsessed with the need for self-torture, the student asks the bird the same questions about Lenore knowing the response beforehand. Accordingly, in The Raven summary, we can say that Poe aimed to underline the human need to torment the self and to seek meaning in the things that are meaningless.

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