In Poe's "The Raven," what is the narrator doing at the beginning of the poem? What actions disturb him in the first stanza? 

In Poe's "The Raven," what is the narrator doing at the beginning of the poem? What actions disturb him in the first stanza?

 

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the poem, the narrator is poring over "many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore." The mood of the poem is "dreary" from the very first stanza; we are told that it's midnight, and the narrator is feeling "weak and weary." There's a dark, gnawing discomfort in the atmosphere. In the midst of this melancholic state of mind, the narrator is poring over volumes of old, forgotten stories. He's restless, alternating between nodding off to sleep and reading the strange volume of old stories.

We get the impression that the narrator's mind isn't really on what he's reading; he struggles to stay awake but is soon interrupted by a knock on the door. He tells himself that "Tis some visitor...Only this and nothing more." It's as if he's trying to convince himself about something. The second stanza sheds a little more light on the true reason for the narrator's despondency. He's reading to try to distract himself from the grief of losing a "rare and radiant maiden" named Lenore. From his books, he hopes to find a "surcease of sorrow," but his efforts are in vain. Perhaps the gentle knocking on the door causes him to hope that it's Lenore, and he has to tell himself otherwise in order to quell the likely disappointment that reality will bring him.

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