Consonance In The Raven

What are some examples of consonance in "The Raven" by Poe?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Raven is a very tightly organized poem. Consonance—the repetition of consonant sounds—is just one of the ways Poe's language is meant to evoke a feeling of hypnotic melancholy. Take, for instance, the third stanza:

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain 
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; 
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating 
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door— 
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;— 
            This it is and nothing more.” 
One of the repeating vowel sounds here is the hard T sound: uncertain, rustling, curtain, fantastic, terrors, felt, to, still, beating, heart, stood, repeating, and so forth. Once you start paying attention to it, you can find many examples of consonance in the poem. Notice in the fourth stanza, for example, the repeating "G" sound.
This repetition serves to set up a kind of rhythm in opposition to the actual meter of the poem, which is trochaic octameter, or eight trochees in a line (a trochee has two syllables, with the emphasis on the first syllable), the rhyme scheme (ABCBBB) with an internal rhyme in the first line (notice, above, "uncertain" and "curtain"), and the extensive use of alliteration (silken, sad). It all serves to create a poem that has a definite "sound" and rhythm to it, but that, nevertheless, is a little "off," just like the narrator of the poem seems like a reasonable person, but is just a little "off" as well!
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

You asked more than one question in your original question which is against enotes regulations, so I have edited it down to focus on your main question alone. Please remember to ask only one question at a time, and don't feel tempted to slip in multiple questions!

Consonance is defined as the repetition of the same or similar final consonant sounds on accented syllables or in important words. Thus "ticktock" for example is an example because of the repeated "ck" sound. Do not confuse consonance with alliterations, which is the repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close together. Poe uses both of these literary techniques extensively in his work.

Consider the following example of consonance from the poem:

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eager I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow...

Note the consonance in the repetition of the "t" sound in "wrought," "ghost" and "wished." Remember, consonance is about the sound, not the actual letter, so the fact that "wished" ends in a "t" sound and not a "d" sound means that we can classify it as consonance.

Hopefully this will help you identify other examples of consonance in this great poem. Good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team