What is the point of view in "The Raven" by Poe and how does it relate to the general theme?

The narrator's emotional instability and the unreliability of his narration in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" contribute to what Poe calls the "theme" or the suggestive "under-current" of the poem. This "theme" isn't one of the obvious elements of the poem, such as loss, grief, death, madness, or despair, but "the human thirst for self-torture" that underlies the narration, and which Poe believes exists in the narrator and in the reader of the poem.

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Point of view is the "eye" through which a story is told. The narrator in Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" uses the words "I," "me," and "my" throughout the poem, indicating that the poem is told from the first-person central point of view. The narrator is...

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Point of view is the "eye" through which a story is told. The narrator in Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" uses the words "I," "me," and "my" throughout the poem, indicating that the poem is told from the first-person central point of view. The narrator is at the center of the events of the poem, not peripheral to the story, and it's through the narrator's "eye" and the narrator's perceptions that the events of the poem unfold and are observed and interpreted.

A first-person narrator can be reliable or unreliable. A reliable narrator is a narrator who is essentially trustworthy. What the reliable narrator presents to the reader is based on their own experience, and the narrator appears to be relatively objective, accurate, consistent, impartial, and truthful in that presentation.

An unreliable narrator is notably subjective or biased, misunderstands or misinterprets what they observe, and cannot be trusted to present events and their reactions to those events objectively and truthfully to the reader.

Even though the narrator of "The Raven" presents his own experiences to the reader, he is otherwise wholly unreliable in that he tells the reader that he's depressed, lonely, heartbroken, and grief-stricken at the loss of his love, the "rare and radiant maiden" Lenore, and that his emotional state affects how he perceives everything around him. The reader can readily discern through the narration that the narrator is emotionally unstable, and that his mental state appears to deteriorate through the course of the poem.

The unreliable nature of the narrator of "The Raven" draws the reader into the poem, and causes the reader to look at and interpret the events of the story through the eyes and emotions of the narrator—to see what the narrator sees, and feel what the narrator feels—as disconcerting to the reader as that might be.

In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe's essay about his process of writing "The Raven," Poe notes that he first considers what he calls the "effect" that he intends for the poem to have on the reader. Everything in the writing of the poem evolves from this "effect," which is achieved by a "unity of impression." By unifying all of the elements of the poem, a specific "effect" is produced, an effect "of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible."

Poe considers the "theme" of "The Raven" as a subtle, suggestive, "under-current" of the poem, not an overt, obvious "over-current" such as the nature of loss, grief, death, the afterlife, the supernatural, madness, despair, or any other of the many thematic interpretations that have been imposed on the poem.

Poe writes that the theme, the "effect," and the "under-current" of "The Raven" lies inside and outside the poem itself, and that this "under-current" is "the human thirst for self-torture." This is exemplified in the poem by the instability and unreliability of the narrator, and by the self-torturing nature of the questions that the narrator asks the raven—and the reader asks vicariously through the narrator—even though the narrator and the reader already know the answer to the questions, which is "Nevermore."

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The first-person point of view reveals the narrator's fraught mental state. All alone in his study on a cold winter's night, still brooding over the loss of his beloved, the narrator is emotionally vulnerable. He initially welcomes the arrival of the strange bird, seeing it as a potential distraction from his many sorrows. But before long, he becomes frustrated at the repetitive screech of "Nevermore," whose meaning he cannot fathom. He then starts to think that the raven is some sort of demon sent to torment him.

As "The Raven" deals with the disintegration of someone's mind, it is entirely appropriate that Poe should use the first-person point of view. This helps us gain an insight into the narrator's psychological vulnerabilities, making it easier for us as readers to identify with him and what he's going through. Otherwise, we'd only be able to approach the poem in a spirit of detachment, and that would have the unfortunate effect of making us care less about the narrator and the weird events of that bleak December night.

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A great deal of Poe's writing revolves around themes of mental anguish and the distortions of perception that can accompany them. By using a first-person perspective, Poe is able to fully explore these distortions and the discomfort they cause. The narrator's perception of the tapping is extremely disconcerting to him, and his various attempts to understand the sounds happen internally, rather than externally. The reader is immediately present with the narrator's every twist and turn of mind during this processing, most of which is not expressed externally and so would not be as available for a second- or third-person narrator to explore. Once the raven is discovered, this is especially true. The author speaks a number of things out loud, but most of the action is internal and occurs between these spaces of dialogue.

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"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe is written in first person point of view.  This emphasizes the personal experiences of the narrator and brings the reader closer to the intimate details of the narrator's mental state.  This is especially important in "The Raven" because the poem centers around the mental instability of the narrator and details his nervous state as propelled by the events in the poem.  The poem works in stages to demonstrate the anxiety that the narrator feels as he searches for the source of the knocking at his door; first he examines his door for visitors, next he looks to the window for the source of the noise, and finally he finds the source of the noise to be an eerie raven who perches above his door.  Poe emphasizes the narrator's experience of seeing the bird and questioning it about its' presence in his home. In this final section of the poem it is evident that the bird represents the narrator's own madness and melancholy due to the loss of his love Lenore.  Without the use of the first person perspective the reader might never come to understand the anxiety and madness faced by the narrator, losing sight of the major meaning behind the poem altogether.  It is evident throughout the poem that Poe means for us to see that the loss of a loved one can forever trap us in a state of utter sadness, so burdensome that we may never escape our madness.  This is primarily evidenced by the final lines of the poem where the narrator finds himself trapped into madness by the shadow of the raven, unable to escape his state of sadness and resume a normal life.  

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As stated before, the point of view is first person and the protagonist is expressing his sorrow while slipping into what the reader understands to be some sort of madness.

The Raven is the representation of the nostalgia that the protagonist insists on keeping, and the Raven's stay in the home is a declaration from the protagonist that he has elected not to move on to a brighter self. He much rather would remain in pain, and hence he will stay that way.

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