What are four examples from Poe's "The Raven" that demonstrate the effect that alliteration and assonance have on the reader?
One example of alliteration, the repetition of an initial consonant sound, occurs when the narrator says, "Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, / Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before" (25-26). The repetition of the hard "d" sound in these two lines helps to enhance the ominous mood generated by the meaning of the words. The narrator is nervously staring into the darkness, a somewhat foreboding action, and the repetition of the "d" sound is foreboding as well. This increases tension for the reader.
Another example of alliteration actually occurs in the same stanza: "And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, 'Lenore!' / This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, 'Lenore!'" (28-29). The repetition of the much softer "w" sound, especially after the harsh series of "d" sounds, is much gentler, just as a whisper would be. The transition from a hard, ominous sound to a soft, sort of creepy sound enhances the silence of the scene and the awe of the narrator when he opens the door to nothing and hoped it was the soul of his lost lover. This would likewise serve to increase suspense, as character and reader both await whatever is in the darkness.
One example of assonance relies on the repetition of the long "a" sound, which slows down the pace of the poem and emphasizes the odd behavior of the bird: "In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore; / Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he; / But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door" (38-40). Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, and when a poet uses long vowel sounds over and over again, it has the effect of slowing the pace because those sounds take longer to say. This assonance, then, slows down the poem's pace and lends a musical quality to the lines that seems to enhance those lines' meaning.
Another example of assonance occurs in the first stanza, when the narrator says, "While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, / As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door" (3-4). The short "a" sound (as in the word "napping") has the opposite effect of the long vowels I mentioned above. Since the short vowel sounds take less time to say, they have a tendency to seem to speed things up, which makes sense given the meaning of these words. The tapping and rapping come unexpectedly, and the quickness of the repeated short "a" sound mimics the abrupt manner in which the action occurs in the poem.