In "The Raven", what purpose does the raven serve in relationship to the narrator?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The raven that comes to visit the man in the middle of the night serves as both a messenger and a source of evil. A black bird (with the color black symbolizing evil), the raven's appearance alleviates the narrator's loneliness somewhat, but the man's misinterpretation of the bird's words drives him to the brink of madness. At first the narrator thinks it a "stately" bird, but he eventually recognizes it as an unwanted visitor. The raven also represents death, and it serves as a reminder that the narrator's lost love can never return to him. The raven also offers the man a supernatural presence, with the bird's ability to clearly state the word "Nevermore." Author Edgar Allan Poe relates that the bird serves to maintain the narrator's need for "self-torture" and self-grieving.