The Raven Explication Essay

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The Raven – Poetry Explication This poem dramatizes the conflict between the narrator and the deep emotion that overwhelms him from the death of his love “Lenore” (“The Raven, An Introduction” 254). A black raven contributes to the struggle answering the questions presented by the narrator with a single word “nevermore.” Themes of death, grief, and lost love are weaved throughout the poem. The narrator uses lots of imagery that sets a mood of despair and instills an awe of fear to the work. In the first lines, the speaker is identified as someone who is tired and nearly asleep as he reads “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore” (line 2). Already the poem uses alliterations of “w” in “while,” “weak,” and “weary” to give a feeling of unsteadiness (“The Raven” 202). It is midnight and the speaker hears a tapping that he quickly assumes is a visitor knocking at his door. The poem uses internal rhyme with the words “napping,” “tapping,” and “rapping” and uses repetition to give a feeling of singing (lines 3-5). The speaker comforts himself in line five muttering, “Tis a visitor . . .tapping at my chamber door.” The stanza ends with the first use of “nothing more” that will develop into the refrain “nevermore” used thought the latter half of the poem (“The Raven” 202). The second stanza begins with a description of the setting of the poem “in the bleak December.” The use of “midnight” in stanza one and “December” in stanza two may be presenting a change that is about to happen with midnight being the end of a day and December the end of a year. The mood is mysterious and melancholy provided by such words as “bleak” “dying” and “ghost” (lines 7-8). The speaker is telling a story referring back to the past with words such as “remember” (line 7). Once again the speaker uses internal rhyme of “sorrow,” “borrow,” and “morrow” and repetition of the word “sorrow” to give the feel of a song to the

Stanzas: 10-12

Stanza 10: The Raven just sits there and says "nevermore." The narrator, a little spooked by the entire episode mutters the bird will probably just leave tomorrow.

Analysis: There is something in the word "nevermore" that brings despair to the narrator. He believes the raven is pouring out his soul with each utterance of the word, similar to the pouring out of the narrator's soul as he longs for the return of Lenore.

Stanza 11: The narrator rationalizes that the raven's repetition of "nevermore" has nothing to do with his own hopeless state, and that the word is the only one the bird knows. He creates a plausible story about the bird probably having escaped from his master who met an ill fate at sea.

Analysis: The narrator experiences the paranoia/denial cycle. He unreasonably believes the raven is some bad omen, which it then becomes, omens being nothing more than a negative psychological interpretation of an otherwise neutral event, followed by a complete negation with an implausible explanation. The narrator is nuts.

Stanza 12: The narrator wheels his chair around, stares at the bird, and attempts to figure out what this all means.

Analysis: Although the narrator draws no explicit conclusion, descriptive words such as "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt" displays the narrator's negative attitude toward the strange visitor.


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