What is the setting of "The Raven" (month/weather)?

Expert Answers
rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The time of year in which Poe's poem "The Raven" is set is quite clear, but the narrator's description of the weather is contradictory. The narrator clearly states that the event occurred in "the bleak December" and that the time of day was midnight. However, in the beginning of the poem, the weather seems unremarkable. The weather must have been calm enough for the man, who was reading by lamplight, to have heard the gentle rapping and faint tapping at his "chamber door." If a storm had been raging outside, such a slight knocking would have been imperceptible. In fact, when the man goes to the door, expecting to find a visitor, only "silence" and "stillness" greet him. He whispers, "Lenore," and the night is calm enough for him to hear the echo of his whisper. When the knocking comes again, he thinks it must be the wind, even though when he opened the door previously, there had been no wind.

When the bird enters, the narrator begins to theorize about how it got there, wondering "whether tempest tossed thee here ashore." However, that does not mean there is currently a tempest; it could have been a previous tempest that brought the bird to the man's locale. When the man tries to expel the raven, he shouts, "Get thee back into the tempest!" There are three possible meanings here. One, he is referring to a previous tempest, the one that brought the raven ashore, and is metaphorically telling the bird to go back from whence it came. Two, a storm has come up during the time the raven has been in the man's chamber; this is unlikely considering how quiet and still the night had been earlier. Third, the man is becoming mentally unhinged and has no accurate perception of what the weather outside is; he is projecting his internal tempest onto the meteorological milieu. Given the dramatic ending of the poem where the man falls into a deep depression, this final option seems most likely. Therefore, the external setting during the poem is a calm evening, but the internal setting of the man's psyche is tempestuous. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Often employing pathetic fallacy with his settings, Poe creates an ambiance of physical setting, atmosphere, and time that adds a shuddering emphasis to the language of the poem itself. In "The Raven," it is a "midnight dreary" in a "bleak December" and darkness that is in sympathy with the "weary" feelings of the narrator who ponders the end of his loved one's life. 

When he hears a knocking on his door, the narrator peers into the darkness, a darkness that matches that of his soul in its terrible grief for his Lenore. In more likenesses between the setting and the interior chambers in which the narrator resides, the night is deeply dark and the rustling curtains are purple, the raven is ebony as the night, also, and ominous as the night.  Expressing this pathetic fallacy, is this passage:

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!
           Quote the Raven "Nevermore."

kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven is clearly delineated throughout the poem.  It is a cold, dark December night, and the narrator is sitting in his library surrounded by his books.  He is forlorn, lamenting the loss of his one true love, "the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."  The weather and time of day -- midnight -- present the desired atmosphere in which hauntings best occur.  The three most descriptive lines in Poe's poem that address the issue of month and weather are as follows, with the first line opening the poem, the second and third lines occurring in the second stanza:

Once upon a midnight dreary 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

Deep into that darkness peering

Again, it is a cold winter night in December when the raven comes a-tapping at the narrator's chamber door.

krounds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Raven" is Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poem, and is truly indicative of his haunting style. The poem is set in the chambers of a young male student who has apparently lost his lover fairly recently. It is midnight on a stormy night in December. It's important to note the setting as it helps to demonstrate the tone of mourning which is common among a majority of Poe's pieces.

teacherdjd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Once upon a midnight dreary.../Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December"
The answer to this question is stated specifically in the text of the poem. It is Midnight on a dreary, bleak December night.

chloemink eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting throughout is the narrator's chambers at midnight on a bleak December, as the speaker or student lapses between reading an old book and falling asleep.

california10 | Student

december and Dreary

superpoop321 | Student

The weather outside in the Raven was very snowy in the bleak December.

lpteach | Student

December and it was very cold out.