What does the raven come to represent?

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perfectsilence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," the title creature represents a number of things. A close, New Critical reading focusing on the text of the poem alone can suggest that the raven represents a constant reminder that the narrator will never again see his lost Lenore, in this life or the next. In this way, the creature can be seen as an enlightened prophet or a blasphemous heretic, depending on the religious perspective that one might choose to present. In one way, the raven could be a harsh reality that after life, there is nothing. Conversely, the creature could be a cunning evildoer, tricking the narrator into losing his faith and thus condemning him to both a life and afterlife of eternal torment. No matter what position one chooses to argue, something is clear: through one simple statement the raven ensures, through the narrator's own admission that his heart "Shall be lifted—nevermore!"