What is the importance of "The Raven"? Why did Poe write it?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Raven" is generally not considered by critics to be one of Poe's best poems, but it is a very popular poem. Readers of poetry are engaged by its musical nature, vivid imagery, and dramatic story with supernatural elements. The narrator is compelling in his grief as he responds to the ebony bird who comes into his dark study at midnight. The atmosphere of the poem pulls the reader into the mystery of the raven. The dark night, dying fire, shadowy room, and rustling curtains contribute to this atmosphere, creating also a tone of sadness and suspense.

We cannot know what was in Poe's mind specifically when he wrote the poem, but we do know that in writing his short stories, Poe strove to create a single emotional effect within the reader. Since "The Raven" is a dramatic narrative poem, it seems reasonable that he was attempting to do the same thing. The single emotional effect in "The Raven" is despair.