How does Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" relate to the American Renaissance?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Writers of the American Renaissance believed in recognizing the importance of human emotion and agency, and tended to focus to a large extent on these subjects in their works. Often, these writers also included an emphasis on nature in their works because of their belief that nature has incredibly positive effects on us and can help us, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "return to reason and faith." In nature, he said, "we become part or parcel of God." It is as though nature can help us to resume the innocence that we have lost; it renders us childlike again, in the best possible way. Being in nature helps us to be our best selves, and to be most in touch with what is holy and what is true.

"The Raven" certainly does focus on the varied and sometimes conflicting emotions of the narrator. He feels mournful, curious, grateful, angry, frustrated, and hopeless all in the space of one poem. And nature, in the form of the raven, seems to have the opposite effect of the one most American Renaissance writers emphasized. The raven doesn't calm or soothe the speaker; the raven doesn't make him feel youthful and innocent again; the raven certainly does not return him to "reason and faith." Thus, the poem seems to be somewhat in conflict with American Renaissance ideals.

Read the study guide:
The Raven

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question