The "Five W's" of "The Raven"
Who: The only two living characters are the narrator and the visitor who comes to his chamber--The Raven.
What: The narrator, who is up late and alone at night, is distraught about a failed romance with a woman named Lenore. The man hears a "rapping" outside and it turns out to be a raven, who flies inside and sits upon its perch--a bust of Pallas. The man begins a conversation with the bird, who answers each time with "Evermore." The man soon comes to believe that the bird is an omen of even greater misfortune, with a message to deliver. The bird remains on its perch, and the man cannot decide whether the bird is a "prophet," "devil" or "fiend."
When: A "bleak December" evening, sometime after midnight in the early-to-mid-1800s.
Where: At the home of the narrator in an unnamed location.
Why: There are many "why's" left unanswered: Why does the man believe the bird is speaking to him? Why does he believe the bird has some special purpose or meaning? Poe himself called it the "human thirst for self-torture."