In what ways does the author create a mood in the opening stanza of "The Raven"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remember that a variety of techniques can be used to create mood, and these include rhyme, rhythm, diction and sound effects in poetry. If we examine the first stanza of this famous poem, we can see that in a sense, Poe uses all four of these elements to build a dark, ominous and threatening mood that is sustained throughout the poem.

Note how the words "midnight dreary" and "forgotten lore" are used to create an almost supernatural setting as we picture the student working hard on this "dreary" night in darkness, wading through books of forbidden knowledge. The onomatopoiea in words such as "rapping" greatly add to the suspense and fear, as we are startled into thinking who it is that could be knocking on the door at this time of night.

In addition, note the internal rhyme that is present, with "rapping" rhymed with various other words in the stanza. The regular rhythm of the poem which seems to be relentless in the way that it continues on and drives the stanza towards its conclusion helps sustain this tone through its power. The tone therefore is created through the impact of diction, rhyme, rhythm and other sound effects that give this opening stanza a chilly and supernatural tone.


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