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In "The Raven," why does Poe use a raven instead of another bird or animal?

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fot | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted April 6, 2009 at 2:13 AM via web

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In "The Raven," why does Poe use a raven instead of another bird or animal?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 6, 2009 at 3:22 AM (Answer #1)

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Being that it is a gothic poem, you get all the element of the supernatural combined together to create a dark atmosphere.

As stated in a similar question, the Raven symbolizes "Mournful and Never-Ending remembrance" (according to Silverman quoting Poe)- The characteristics of this bird are that it is black, and can repeat words. The Raven has also a notorious reputation for being a bird of bad omens.

The fact hat the bird has a limited capacity for repetition compared to , say, a parrot, enables the idea of it choosing to repeat the ONE word that follows the protagonist to insanity and despair.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 24, 2014 at 3:34 PM (Answer #2)

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Edgar Allan Poe was the master of using symbols in his writings. They symbols always represented something else.

Poe could have certainly used another animal in the story, but the effect wouldn't have been the same. He could have used a parrot, for example, but a parrot can speak many words. There is something ominous about the raven only saying nevermore. In some cultures the raven is seen as a bad sign. There are seen as mournful and never ending remembrance, which is very fitting in this story. The narrator can not get over his love, Lenore. The raven can also represent an ill omen or even death. When the raven sits on the bust of Pallas, this is another symbol for us. Pallas was the Greek god of wisdom. The raven can be seen as wise and having knowledge of something the narrator does not. 

Edgar Allan Poe's use of the raven is very symbolic. A raven is midnight black, which the story does take place at midnight. The darkness of the bird is an ominous symbol for the man. And let's just face it, ravens are really creepy birds. We have to ask ourselves, though, are they really creepy, or just creepy because we know the story? Edgar Allan Poe was a master of his work.


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