What does the narrator ask of the raven in the poem "The Raven"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ultimately, what the narrator asks of the raven in this poem is that it leave him in peace. He says, 

"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 they beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"

The narrator seems to believe, at this point, that the bird is some kind of freakish messenger from the land of death, an interpretation supported by his assertion that the raven has come from the "Night's Plutonian shore": Night is often associated with death, and Pluto is the Roman God of the underworld.

Moreover, the raven is black, a color often associated with death. The narrator wishes to be left alone, but the continued presence of the raven—its apparent refusal to quit his presence—adds to its symbolism. The raven has told the narrator that there is no hope of a cure for his pain from losing Lenore; the raven has also told the narrator that there will be no reunion for the lovers after death "in the distant Aidenn." Aidenn is another name for Paradise (similar to Eden).

Now, all that remains for the narrator is the continued hopelessness of mortality—both Lenore's and his own—and the pain that it causes. He hopes that the raven would go, and leave him in relative peace, but, in the end, he says, "my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor / Shall be lifted—nevermore!"  

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator asks several things of the raven through the course of the poem. Most of the questions are implied, but they are still there.

When the narrator first hears the "tapping at my chamber door," he ignores it. When it continues, he looks to see who is there. Finding no one, hope arises in his grief in spite of himself and he asks, "Lenore?"

Upon the entrance of the raven into the chamber, the narrator is surprised and somewhat amused by this strange creature. He attempts to learn more about his visitor by asking, "Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"

The most heartfelt question addressed to the raven is, "Is there balm in Gilead?" The narrator is asking if there is any healing available, any comfort for the broken heart afflicting him as a result of the death of his beloved Lenore.

Finally and desparately, the narrator pleads for some indication of the future whether there is any hope of reuniting with Lenore.

By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore

And the answer to that question, as to all the rest, is "Nevermore."

laurto | Student

He asks if Lenore was in heaven. And whether he'll ever see her in heaven. The raven replies to all his questions by saying "nevermore". Actually all the raven says is "nevermore".