Are there any similes and/or metaphors in "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe?

Poe employs a great deal of figurative language throughout "The Raven," including many metaphors and similes. Much of this figurative language helps to create the ominous and even mythic mood of the poem.

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One metaphor appears in the second stanza of the poem, when the speaker says, of the remnants of a fire in the grate, that "each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor" (line 8). There are not literal ghosts of embers present, but this choice of words, to indicate that the fire is dying, adds to the spooky and ominous mood created by the opening lines.

Later, the speaker describes his soul as "burning" when he opens the door upon which someone was tapping and sees no one there (31). His soul is not literally on fire, but, to him, it feels as though it is, and so he compares this longing or yearning or curiosity he feels to a fire because the feeling seems to consume him, as fire would. This is another example of a metaphor.

The speaker employs another metaphor when he compares the air around him to air that is "perfumed from an unseen censer" (79). The air seems, to him, to grow denser around him as he considers that he will never see Lenore again, and he compares it to incense-perfumed air that feels as though it has weight.

The speaker uses another metaphor when he compares the raven's appearance to a "kind nepenthe" sent by God to distract the speaker from his grief (83). Nepenthe is a drug that would do away with one's grief or sadness (from Homer's Odyssey); thus, the speaker compares the bird's strange appearance to such a drug.

The speaker employs a simile in his description of the raven's speech. He says that the raven speaks "as if his soul in that one word he did outpour" (56). The speaker suggests that the raven speaks the word "nevermore" with such feeling and significance that it seems as though it comes directly from his soul (though the speaker knows that this cannot be true).

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 7, 2020
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Late in Poe’s career "The Raven" made him popular.  It was reported that children would chase Poe around until he would turn toward them, raise his arms and yell "Nevermore." As far as your question is concerned, yes there are examples of similes and metaphors in “The Raven.”  There are also examples of personification and alliteration.   “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore’” (Raven: 48) is one example of personification.  Birds can’t really speak so the fact that Poe gave the raven a voice is personification.  The raven says “Nevermore.”  A very good example of a metaphor is “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.”  In this quote Poe is comparing the raven’s eyes to a demon.  An example of a simile is when he uses a comparison to express the narrator’s grief to the raven’s reply to him.   “That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.” (Raven: 56)   I hope this helps.

"Final associations of the bird with evil occur in the words “demon” and “shadow.” The connection between the Raven’s “shadow” and the speaker’s “soul” in the last line of the poem suggests that the speaker believes himself to be cursed by the bird’s presence."

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SIMILES

  • "...suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping...“ (Lines 3-4).
        It compares the tapping (of the raven) with that of a human tapping.
  • "But the Raven... spoke only
    That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did 
        outpour. (Lines 55-56)
        The Raven's one word ("forevermore") is compared with the total outpouring of the human soul.
  • "On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have
        flown before.”  (Lines 59-60)
        The Raven's imminent departure is compared to the narrator's previously disappearing hopes.
  • "Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul
        hath spoken!  (Line 99)
        The Raven's black feather is compared to a token reminder of the lie it has told.
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There are many similes and metaphors in The Raven. Remember that both similes and metaphors are comparisons, but a simile uses the words "like" or "as" and a metaphor does not. Metaphors are harder to find, but if you find words that are describing one thing by creating a picture of something else, that is probably a metaphor. For example, in this poem:

Metaphor: And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor........the author is talking about the fire dying out, but to him it looks like a ghost on the floor. He doesn't say "the fire looks like a ghost" because if he did, it would be a simile.

Simile: suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping - the author is comparing the tapping sound that he hears to someone gently knocking (rapping) on his door, and yet it is not someone knocking, but it sounds like someone knocking.

There are more metaphors than similes in this poem. This should get you started on trying to pick them out!

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