Edgar Allan Poe Questions and Answers

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In "The Raven," is it nothing "further then he uttered" or "nothing farther then he uttered?" Also, why is "Hopes" capitalized?

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Rebecca Hope eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Regarding the first question about the use of "farther" or "further" in line 57, it appears that Poe used "farther" in the poem. You will find texts of the poem online, and probably in print, that say "further." Indeed, eNotes' own eText uses "further." I looked up reliable print sources and found that the Norton Anthology of American Literature, 8th edition, uses "farther" (638), as does The Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, published by Castle Books (773). Grammatically, "further" is correct, so some have probably corrected Poe's original usage. "Further" is used in the case of non-literal distances, while "farther" indicates literal distance. 

As to the capitalization of "Hopes" in line 59, this is also problematic. One of my print sources shows it capitalized (Castle), and one shows it lower case (Norton). However, both show the word "Hope" capitalized in line 65. Other common nouns capitalized in the poem are "Disaster," "Horror," and "Raven." He also capitalizes the adverb "Nightly." Poets often capitalize concepts or creatures that they want to personify, as Poe does with the Raven, but that does not seem to be what Poe is doing with Hope here. Rather, it seems likely that he capitalized Hope and the other words to draw attention to them. Poe uses italics to emphasize the words "he" in line 59 and "she" in line 78. Capitalizing a word not normally capitalized draws attention to the word and says it is important without requiring the verbal stress that italic type brings to a word.