The Raven book report - a detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Edgar Allan Poe biography and everything necessary for active class participation.
The Raven is Poe's best-known poem, known for its drama, style, and mood. The poem's meter is mostly trochaic octameter, with eight accented-unaccented two-syllable feet per line. Combined with the predominant end-rhyme scheme of ABCBBB and the frequent use of internal rhyme, the trochaic octameter and chorus "Nevermore'' give the poem a musical tone when read aloud. Poe also emphasizes the "O" sound in words such as "Lenore" and "Nevermore" to emphasize the lonely sound and melancholy of the poem and establish the overall atmosphere. Finally, the repetition of "Nevermore" gives the poem a circular sense and contributes to what Poe called "unity of effect".
Like many of Poe's poems such as Annabel Lee and Ulalume, The Raven refers to the protagonist's memories of the agony of a deceased wife. Through poetry, Lenore's untimely death is implicitly aestheticized, and the narrator cannot free himself from his reliance on her memory. He asks the raven if there is ‘balm in Gilead' and therefore spiritual salvation, or if Lenore really exists in the afterlife, but the raven confirms his worst suspicions by rejecting his pleas.
The fear of death or oblivion forms a large part of Poe's writing, and The Raven is one of his saddest works because it gives such a definitively negative answer. In contrast, when Poe uses the name Lenore in a similar situation in the poem "Lenore," he infers that he should not cry in mourning because he is convinced that he will meet Lenore in heaven.
Poe's choice of the raven as the bearer of bad news is appropriate for several reasons. Originally, Poe was only looking for a dumb beast capable of making human-like sounds without understanding the meaning of words, and he claimed that earlier conceptions of the "Raven" included the use of a parrot. In this sense, the raven is important because it allows the narrator to be both the deliverer and the interpreter of the ominous message, without the presence of obviously supernatural intervention.
At the same time, a raven's black feather was traditionally considered a magical sign of a bad omen, and Poe may also be referring to Norse mythology, where the god Odin had two ravens named Hugin and Munin, which meant "thought" and "memory." The narrator is a student and therefore follows Hugin.
Due to the late hour of the poem's action and the narrator's mental turmoil, the poem questions the narrator's reliability. At first, the narrator tries to give his experiences a rational explanation, but by the end of the poem, he has stopped giving the raven any interpretations other than what he made up in his own head. The raven, therefore, serves as a part of his soul and as the animal equivalent of Psyche in the song Ulalume. Each figure represents the subconscious of its character that instinctively understands his need for obsession and mourning. As in Ulalume, the protagonist cannot escape the memory of his beloved, but while the Psyche of Ulalume tries to prevent the unearthing of painful memories, the raven actively encourages his thoughts of Lenore.
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Genre: Gothic fiction
Setting: narrator's bedroom, December at midnight
Point of view: first-person
Tone: melancholic, dark
Mood: ominous, slightly deranged, unsettling, dark
Theme: the narrator's inability to forget his lost love Lenore drives him to despair and madness
The unnamed narrator is wearily looking through an old book on one gloomy December night when he hears a knock on his bedroom door. He tells himself that it's only a visitor and he is waiting for tomorrow because he cannot find relief in his grief over the death of Lenora. The rustling of the curtains startles him, but he concludes that it must be some late visitor and, approaching the door, asks the visitor's forgiveness for having dozed off. However, when he opens the door, he sees and hears nothing but the words "Lenore", an echo of his own words.
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this and nothing more."
Returning to his room, he hears the knocking again and thinks it must have been the wind from the window. However, when he opens the window, a raven comes in and immediately sits "on Pallas's bust" above his door. His grave appearance amuses the narrator, who asks him for names. The raven replies, "Nevermore."
He does not understand the answer, but the raven says nothing more until the narrator loudly predicts that tomorrow she will leave him like the rest of his friends. Then the bird says again, "Nevermore."
"But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered-not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore.""
Amazed, the narrator says that the raven must have learned this word from some unfortunate owner who often repeated it due to bad luck.
Smiling, the narrator sits before the ominous raven to ponder the meaning of his words. The raven continues to stare at him, as the narrator sits down in the chair that Lenore will never occupy again. Then he feels that angels have approached him and angrily calls the raven an evil prophet. He asks if there is any respite in Gilead and if he will see Lenore in heaven again, but the raven just replies, "Nevermore."
Enraged, the narrator demands that the raven return to the night and leave him alone again, but the raven says, "Nevermore," and does not leave the bust of Pallas. The narrator feels that his soul will "nevermore" come out of the raven's shadow.
"And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted-nevermore!"
The narrator - is a scholar grieving the loss of his beloved Lenora. He tries to take his mind off her by reading, but melancholy thoughts of her overwhelm him. When the raven enters his room, he is at first amused and then angered by his answers to his questions about life, death, and the afterlife. He surrenders to despair.
He is the melodramatic type, learned and reasonable, his logic and knowledge do little to help him recover from the impact of Lenore's death or escape his desperate desire to see her again. His desperation drives him to emotional extremes.
The Raven - says only one word - "Nevermore" - which the narrator interprets in different ways to answer his own questions. The bird serves as a vehicle for exploring the narrator's grief.
Lenore - a young woman whom the narrator calls "a rare and shining maiden." Critics believe that Lenore, the narrator's lost love, is a representation of Poe's own deceased wife, Virginia. She is described as a woman of exceptional beauty. As we read we see how the narrator is obsessed with her, always mentioning her; he sees nothing wrong with this woman. She was the woman of his dreams.
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19th, 1809 - October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor, and critic of American realism. He lost his parents two years after birth and was adopted by a tobacco merchant who sent him to a school in England.
He was expelled due to his gambling debt and because tobacco merchants did not want anything to do with him anymore. Under a false name, he joined the army but got kicked out because he disobeyed their orders.
Poe married the 13 years old Virginia who died of tuberculosis and it is considered to be the cause of his alcoholism and opium addiction. He dedicated the song "Annabel Lee" to her.
He first became famous for his poems "The Raven", "The murders in Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter" which are considered to be his most famous crime novels.
He tried to kill himself, but he then disappeared for three days. When he came back he died in a strange condition in 1849. He wrote mystical works, e.g. "The Black Cat" and poems in a mystical romantic mood with bizarre motives.