Prove that "The Raven" is a Gothic poem by highlighting its Gothic elements.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The poem happens at night, and involves a black bird.  Ravens and crows are often seen as harbingers of death.  The poem is also about a death, and grief.  It is cold and bleak.  All of these are gothic elements.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Edgar Allen Poe is a master of Gothic literature and his most famous poem is certainly no exception. Key to creating the menacing, brooding atmosphere that forms a backdrop to the action is setting and time. Note how the action occurs late at night in a dark and dingy room with the student exhausted pouring over his books. This creates an essential ambiguity as it is obvious his perceptions are clouded and his ability to interpret what is going on under such conditions is limited at best.

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litelle209 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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The Raven can be considered a gothic poem because it has many elements that distinguish it as such. It begins "Once upon a midnight dreary..." , hence evoking the feature of darkness and night. The narrator is roused from his sleepy state by a rapping on the door, which begins to terrify him because he is wishing for Lenore, but finds nothing instead ( or rather the raven). This scene then contains the typical gothic elements of mystery, ghosts and the supernatural in the references to "silence unbroken" and "no mortals ever dared to dream before" , and terror as he refers to his beating heart.

I would suggest, however, that when dealing with literature we should refrain from attempting to "prove" something and rather ask ourselves what does this particular text evoke in its readers. This approach is especially approapriate when dealing with poetry because poetry is an even less excact science than fiction or the novel.Look closely at the language of the poem and how words such as darkness and the image of the raven translate into the tone of the work that in turn evokes a certain mood in the reader.The basic storyline is that the narrator expects Lenore but the raven shows up instead. If we take this quite literally, one hopes for a girl but a bird that is commonly associated with being a foreboding omen of darkness and the devil shows up, how does one feel?

Again then, the elements of mystery, terror, darkness, and evil translate into a certain mood that can be considered gothic, rather than elements by themselves.   

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dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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There are five characteristics that allow a work to be labeled as "gothic".  The first is that there is a victim and a torturer -- here the victim is the speaker and the raven is obviously torturing him in that he will not respond with anything other than "nevermore", seemingly driving him crazy.  The second characteristic is that the torturer is either evil or has supernatural powers; this is also true in the poem since the raven can speak (supernatural) and the speaker refers to it many times as being evil or demon-like.  Third, the work must have some type of setting that the victim can not escape.  Here, it would seem that the speaker could easily walk out of the room but since he thinks that the raven has some information for him about his lost love, he feels like he must stay and is, in essence, trapped.  The fourth trait of a gothic work has to do with the mysterious or spooky atmosphere which this poem obviously has.  Finally, in a gothic poem the victim must be enraptured by the power of the one who is victimizing him -- this again is the case since we have a speaker who can not break himself from talking to the raven to find out who he is and what he is about.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The power of a looming fate is a gothic feature present in this poem.  Add this to the other "ingredients" already mentioned, season with the psychological disturbance of the speaker and, voila, gothic!

elmahfoudi's profile pic

elmahfoudi | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

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the elements of mystery, terror, darkness, and evil translate into a certain mood that can be considered gothic, rather than elements by themselves.   

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sabahaidar1980 | eNotes Newbie

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There is no hope of light, as he opens a door to enter another fearful darkness. dark is alive creature peering at the speaker. Darkness is broken in whispering that inccreases fear. Another dark setting is the lattice that we always are afraid of when we are kids.  The comoing of the Raven does not horrify the speaker but it smoothes the fear and lonliness. It gives the gothic atmosphere some touch of eagerness and romanticism.