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Poetry Analysis - Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'

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Mackenzie Kapias

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Poetry Analysis - Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'

Poetry Analysis
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Key Biographical Details About the Poet Time Period When the Poem Was Written and Key Social Factors That May Impact the Poem The poem "The Raven" was written in 1845 just after Romanticism had hit it's peak. The Romantic Era was a movement both artistic and intellectual and began partly because of the Industrial Revolution which was coming to an end by the time Poe had written the Raven. Like the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic Era revolted against aristocratic social and political ideals. In the Romantic Era, people had a deeper interest in nature and individuals focused on imagination and expression of emotion. People were breaking free from social expectations and classicism. The Romantic Era began in the 1770s in Germany and England then spread throughout Europe then over to the Western world. The Romantic Era largely impacted painting, sculpture, music, ballet and even politics; literature changed completely and offered more diverse themes, style and content. Furthermore, as people began to disregard social protocol, poets began to ignore strict rhyme schemes and gradually developed the blank verse. As American literature began to take to Romanticism, the political uproar of the time caused the Romantic works to have a darker twist to them which audiences loved. Eventually, the poems became more cynical and studied the ugliness in humanity. The contemptuous spin that American literature took on Romanticism can be noticed in "The Raven" as it is a reflection of lost love and unhappiness which readers yearned for. Romantic Art "Cupid and Psyche" by Antonio Canova 1794 "Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Friedrich 1818 "Liberty Leads the People" by Eugene Delacroix 1830 Romantic Music Popular Romantic Composers included Frederick Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz List, Richard Wagner and more. Portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler Beehtoven's Moonlight Sonata Piano Sonata No. 14 Popular Literary Works During the Romantic Era -"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte
-"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
-"Songs of Innocence and of Experience" by William Blake
-"Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" by Edgar Allan Poe
-"Lyrical Ballads" by William Woodsworth Type of Poem A narrative poem tells a story. The poem 'The Raven' is a narrative and tells the story of a man who has lost his lover and without her is going mad. The Speaker in the Poem The narrator in 'The Raven' is a scholar who is mourning the death of his love Lenore. At the beginning of the poem, he is sad, tired and slightly irritated by his visitor. As the story goes on, he is amused, angry, and heartbroken once again. He goes through a large variety of emotions and proves to be mad through his words and actions. Figures of Speech - "Each separate dying ember wrought it's ghost upon the floor" is a metaphor which helps creates the atmosphere. As there is less material for the fire to burn, the embers slowly burn out and create shadows. It suggests that it is late at night and there is an eerie glow from the fire.
- "All my soul within me burning" is also a metaphor that describes how excited the narrator is.
- "In there stepped a raven of the saintly days of yore" is a hyperbole. "Saintly days of yore" suggests that the raven is considerably old however, in the wild, ravens tend to live for only ten to fifteen years. Other ravens however, have lived for more than forty years.
- "But with mien of lord of lady" is an example of personification and illustrate that the raven has the demeanor of someone important.
- "Other friends have flown here before, on the morrow he will leave me as my hopes have flown before" is a simile. It compares how the raven which will fly away the next morning will fly away the same way his hopes have. Poetic Devices - "While I nodded nearly napping" is an example of alliteration.
- "Respite - respite and nepenthe from the memories of Lenore" is an allusion to drugs and alcohol.
- "Nevermore" is a connotation.
- "once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary" is an example of assonance.
- The raven in the poem is an allusion to Norse mythology. Odin had two ravens one name Hugin and the other Munnin representing thought and memory.
- "Is there - is there balm in Gilead?" is an allusion to the Book of Jeremiah, 8:22. Sensory Imagery - "Rapping at my chamber door" is knocking and relates to auditory senses.
- "It was in the bleak December" allows people to imagine a ruthlessly dark and cold night and relates to visual senses.
- "And each separate dying ember wrought it's ghost upon the floor" relates to visual senses.
- "And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain" relates to visual, auditory and tactile senses. Mood Themes Dominant Element Structure/Rhyme/Rhythm Subject Matter/ Classification Poe's 1845 - 1846 Home Where "The Raven" Was First Publicly Read 1.Madness- The narrator of the Raven seems to have fallen on hard times there is reference in the poem that he make about wild dreams “fill me- thrill me with fantastic terrors never felt before;” , imaginary perfume and his burning soul “back into the chamber turning, all my soul burning” . Also the fact that he is talking to a bird brings up the questions is the bird really talking? Is there really a bird? Or is this poem just a dream?
2. Lost love- The narrator in the poem has lost his true love Lenore and is hunted by the memory of her by the Raven who continuously says “nevermore” and the tapping on his chamber door.
3. Guilt and death- The Raven is a reincarnation of the narrators guilty condense that is nagging at him, the narrator may have not been responsible for the death of his beloved but he feels as though he could of help stop it. The poems main focal point in death; Poe even touches on how even the world around the narrator is dead. “ “ The symbol of the Raven is meant as a death omen meaning that death has been following the narrator 1. The Raven- Omen of death and pain. The narrator has lost his true love and the Raven is a symbol of his pain
2. Tapping on the chamber door- This element could be the sound of the Narrators own guilt for the loss of Lenore
3. The raven saying “Nevermore”- This element gives us an idea that the Narrator may have gone insane with pain or guilt, Because he is imaging that the raven is egging him on
4. The narrator yelling to the raven” Lenore ”- This is the name of the narrators lost love and he feels like the Raven saying “nevermore” is egging him on therefor he yells out his loves name with anger and pain. Edgar Poe was born on January 19th 1809 in Boston Massachusetts to traveling actors. He was the second of three children. His brother and sister were William Henry Leonard Poe and Rosalie Poe. Before age three, Poe's mother died of tuberculosis and his father had left. Poe was sent to live with John and France Allan and took their name while his siblings went to live with other families. John Allan wished for Poe to be a business man and gentleman however Poe wanted to be a writer inspired by his childhood hero Lord Byron. Poe and Allan had many differences which caused hostility and animosity between the two throughout their lives. Poe decided to find adventure by joining the army and joined West Point Academy but was thrown out because he was careless and could not manage his time. Poe spent most of his independent life in poverty and was also an alcoholic. Throughout his life, Poe lived in New York City, Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore. Poe particularly enjoyed working for magazines and he became a ruthless critic of other writers and he often attacked Rufus Griswold. When Poe was found dead October 7th, 1849 in someone else's clothes, Griswold jumped at the opportunity to write Poe's obituary in the hopes to get his revenge against Poe. In the obituary, Griswold claimed that Poe was a drunken madman with no morals. Instead of Poe being forgotten by the public as Griswold had hoped, Poe's book sales increased and he became even more popular. Poe's works have been in print since 1827 and he is known as the father of the detective story and pioneer of science fiction. The mood in 'The Raven' is very dark. The whole poem centers around death. The line "It was in the bleak December" gives the effect that everything surrounding the narrator is grave and without any happiness. The rhyme scheme in 'The Raven' is internal rhyme. For example:
"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,"
Internal rhyme is when words within the line rhyme with words at the end of the line. The rest of the poem follows this pattern. This particular rhyme scheme enhances the poem because it creates a sound resembling a song and adds to the dramatic effect.
'The Raven' is a poem about lost love. In the poem, the narrator is mourning his deceased lover Lenore. Along with the loss of Lenore, the narrator also looses his mind.
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