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Personification is "a figure of speech in which abstractions, animals, ideas, and inanimate objects are endowed with human form, character, traits, or sensibilities." (eNotes)
Keeping this in mind, think about the ways in which the raven is described in the poem. The narrator says its entrance into the room is "stately" and his perch above the door shows "mien of lord or lady." In fact, the raven flies into the room; it knows nothing of acting dignified like royalty.
The narrator goes on to tell how the raven talked - not with a bird-like caw but one word, spoken with great clarity and emotion, "as if his soul in that one word he did outpour." And the poem continues.
All these descriptions of the raven's speech, action, emotion - all of these are examples of personification.
as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Interestingly, the employment of personification enhances the haunting atmosphere of Poe's poem. For there is sound and sight movement like that of a something haunted directs itself toward the appearance of the eerie raven. For instance, in the second stanza the speaker of Poe's poem mentions
- "And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor." [the embers of the fire a give the properties of a "ghost," which is usually formed from a person.]
- "And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain" [uncertainty is a human quality]
- "an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” [murmuring occurs with a voice]
- Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, [here an inanimate object smiles]
Repeatedly, Poe has inanimate objects or qualities assuming the attributes or abilities of living creatures in order to enhance the sinister and suggestive tone of the poem.
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