In the poem "The Raven," what does the speaker order the raven to do?

2 Answers

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The speaker orders several things of the raven throughout the course of the poem.  If you read the poem very closely, you will be able to determine what those things are.  The very first thing he asks of the bird is its name:  "Tell me what thy Lordly name is."  To this, the bird just gives its famous replay, "Nevermore."  Later on, the speaker asks the birds several other questions.  He asks, "is there balm in Gilead," meaning, is there ever healing or comfort?  The speaker is longing for his lost love Lenore so powerfully that he just wants to forget her and be healed.  The next question he demands an answer to is if someday he might possibly see Lenore again, and be clasped in her arms.  The raven's response to both of these questions:  "Nevermore."  At this point, the speaker gets really upset and demands that the bird

"get thee back into the tempest...quit the bust above my door...take thy form from off my door."

He orders the raven to leave, demands that he get himself up and out of the house, leaving him to his loneliness.  Once again, the raven quotes, "Nevermore," and the speakers says that to this day, he sits there, reminding him of all of his misery.

So, the speaker orders answers to questions, but at the end, orders the bird to leave.  I hope that helps; good luck!

andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The speaker issues not only a single instruction but a litany of orders in the penultimate stanza:  
 
"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting— 
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! 
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” 
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.” 
First, he orders the raven to leave and says its insistent response to all his questions, "Nevermore," should be the bird's final parting word. The speaker commands it to return to the storm and the dark underworld shore from whence it came. He demands that the supernatural creature should not leave behind any trace of its presence as a symbol of the lie which it has uttered, when it goes.
 
Furthermore, the speaker commands that the raven should not disturb his loneliness. He does not need company, especially not that of such a malevolent and despicable creature. The raven must leave its perch on the bust of Pallas (the Greek goddess of wisdom, the prudent arts, and warfare) above his door.
 
In addition, he stipulates that the raven remove its beak from his heart, which metaphorically means that its arrival has pierced his heart and brought him greater pain and grief. He wants his unwelcome visitor to depart immediately and leave his door. To this the raven replies, "Nevermore."
 
It is pertinently obvious that the speaker is deeply distraught. He is grieving over a lost love, Lenore, and cannot come to terms with his loss. When he hears the raven's knocking and investigates, he expectantly calls out her name, hoping that it would be her. He is disgusted when he sees the raven and believes it has come from hell to torment him.
 
The raven stubbornly replies to all his questions with a single-word response, "Nevermore," which infuriates the speaker. He is so overwhelmed by the bird's presence that his demand for it to leave reaches almost fever-pitch by the end of the poem. In the end, however, it is clear the speaker has reconciled with the idea that the raven will never leave and that it would be with him for evermore. This symbolizes the fact that the speaker will never be happy without his beloved Lenore -- the raven is an apt indication of the overwhelming depth of his grief and his loneliness. The speaker will never get over Lenore.