In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe states, "I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect."  Explain how he does that in "The Raven."

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may-stone eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poe writes that a literary work should be short enough to be read during one sitting, so that the effect of the entire piece could be felt by the reader.  As in the quote above, Poe believes (or says he believes) that the effect the literature has on the reader is the most important consideration for an author, who should take care to create that effect with his tone and word choice.  In “The Raven,” Poe is going for a very solemn, terror-at-midnight sort of mood, so he uses tricks like the repetition of the ‘s’ sound in the first line of the famous stanza: 

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Poe also tells us, in “The Philosophy of Composition,” that he chooses to repeat the “or” sound, as in the second and last three lines of the stanza above, because its repetition he deemed “sonorous.”

On a more global level, the repetition of the refrain “nevermore” culminates in a feeling of despair, which rises in the narrator of the poem as he reflects on his lost love.  By the end of the poem, the reader finds him or herself actually participating in the poem, as the part of the Raven, since he or she knows that the Raven’s answer will always be “nevermore.”

kareemoo | Student

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The Raven

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