What are your impressions of the narrator in "The Raven"?

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"The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe, is narrated in the first person. The narrator opens by stating that he is "weak and weary" and is studying "ancient lore." Since the time is midnight, the first impression one gets is that the narrator is a night owl. Next, the narrator seems to be completely isolated; no friends or family are mentioned, other than the "lost Lenore."

The act of poring over ancient volumes suggests that the narrator has a good education and/or intellectual curiosity—but these qualities must be of a somewhat impractical nature, as the volumes are old and obscure, rather than, for example, medical textbooks or business documents.

The narrator seems prone to melancholy and to flights of fancy. Even though he tries to explain the Raven realistically, his description of it as stately and "with mien of lord or lady" suggests that he is more influenced by Romantic literature than by ornithology.

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My impression of the narrator is that he is a man who has recently lost his beloved, a woman he calls "Lenore," and in enduring her death, he is coming face to face with both it as well as his own mortality.  He is grief-stricken, so much so that, when he hears a knocking at this door at midnight and sees no one there, he immediately assumes that it is her spirit, returned.  The narrator is trying to move past his grief, to distract himself from it, but he cannot; this makes him quite sympathetic and pitiable because this is likely a situation to which many of us can relate.  Then, when a raven flies into his room, his first thought is a logical one: that the raven simply repeats, over and over, the only word that it knows.  However, from there, the narrator makes so many strange assumptions that I can only assume he is grappling with something far more significant than a weird bird, but that he is struggling to face and accept human mortality.

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In addition to the responses already given, two of my strongest impressions of the narrator are how incredibly intelligent he is and how imaginative he is.  For one, the narrator's references to items like "'the Night's Plutonian shore'" (the Underworld, named for the god, Pluto/Hades) and a "distant Aidenn" (the Arabic word for Eden or Paradise) help us to understand how incredibly well-read this narrator is.  Further, word choices like "craven" (coward), "nepenthe" (forgetfulness), and a "balm in Gilead" (a universal cure) confirm his education and superior vocabulary.

The narrator's imagination is also quite striking: the multiple histories he invents for this raven are varied and fascinating.  Perhaps the raven is a wanderer come from the Underworld, or maybe his master simply uttered the one word he speaks again and again so that the bird repeats it, or perhaps the bird was sent by some angel to distract the narrator from his grief; maybe, on the other hand, the raven is a tempter sent from the devil -- he might be a thing of evil sent to tell the narrator whether he will meet his lost Lenore again in Heaven.  Such a list could only come from the active imagination of a person with a good deal of creativity and intelligence.

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Poe creates a narrator who is profoundly unbalanced, both through his physical and mental tiredness, but also because of the way he is consumed by grief for his former wife or lover, Lenore. Note how the poem begins by introducing the narrator and the activities he is engaged in:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping...

Not only this, but the second stanza explains how he is obsessed with thinking about "the lost Lenore." Even before the raven has entered the room therefore, the reader knows that the narrator is physically and mentally exhausted, at the point of sleep, and grief-stricken. This is important because it produces an element of uncertainty in the events that happen in this poem. The reader is never sure whether what the narrator reports as happening is accurate or whether it is just a product of his own tiredness and sheer exhaustion, combined with his loss.

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How is the narrator characterized in the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe?

The narrator of this poem is characterized as extremely sad, incredibly intelligent, and highly imaginative. First, he is grief-stricken and filled with "sorrow for the lost Lenore," his lover who has died. He describes the way he has tried to find "surcease of sorrow" by reading an old book, a "curious volume of forgotten lore." Then, when he hears a knocking at his door and no one is there, he imagines that it could be the ghost of Lenore, and this frustrated hope makes his soul seem to burn within him,—perhaps with grief, with fright, or with some combination of the two. When the raven actually steps into his room, he speaks to it, asking what its name is "on the Night's Plutonian shore," appearing to reference the Roman god of death, Pluto, and the Underworld itself. The bird also perches on a bust of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, in the midst of the narrator's library. The narrator goes on to ask if there is "balm in Gilead" or hope of reunion with Lenore in "the distant Aidenn," or Paradise/Heaven. These myriad references and his well-rounded vocabulary also indicate a high level of intelligence. It seems possible that the narrator's fright actually stems from the combination of his grief, his intelligence, and his imagination.

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How is the narrator characterized in the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe?

The narrator in the poem, "The Raven," by Edgar Allan Poe is characterized as distraught and overwhelmingly sad. He has lost his love, Lenore, and the visit from the raven seems to intensify those depressed feelings. The narrator is trying not to think of Lenore, but she becomes all he can think of. When the raven shows up, and he questions it, its only answer is "Nevermore." The narrator is left with the thought that he will never again see Lenore, that there is no place (such as Heaven) where they will be reunited. Before the raven appears, the narrator is able, for the most part, to push his memories of Lenore out of his mind, but by the end of the poem, he is in agony over his lost love.

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In Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," what are your impressions of the narrator?

Our impression of the narrator is largely a matter of opinion, but it is informed and guided by the author's choices in depicting him throughout the poem. It would be a much easier argument to state that the author seems melancholy, morose or depressed, than to say that he seems cheerful and optimistic.

On the surface, the poem is about a man grieving over a dead woman, Lenore, and a seemingly supernatural raven's appearance. It seems unclear whether the raven is actually speaking to the narrator, and choosing to say "nevermore", or if this is simply a sound that the raven makes, with no intended meaning. There is a key distinction that takes place in the poem depending upon our interpretation.

The narrator poses emotional questions to the raven; will he be reunited with Lenore after death? Will the raven stop tormenting him? If the raven is a supernatural creature that chooses to say "no", then the raven seems to represent death, fate, and powers that are beyond man's control; the narrator becomes a meek and powerless castaway in the ocean of destiny. If, however, the raven is just a bird, and the narrator knows this, and expects the bird to say "nevermore" regardless of the questions that he poses to it, then the narrator becomes something of a masochist; he asks questions that he knows will emotionally hurt him if the answer is "no". This is a completely normal part of the grieving process, but it may cause us to interpret the narrator as someone who is actively seeking to be hurt.

Personally, my impression of the narrator is that he is simply a normal person going through the grieving process, and he sees the appearance of the raven as a mysterious and unknowable reflection of himself, and the powers of life and death; things that he cannot control. This is a cathartic experience for him, to receive answers to questions that no human can answer; will he be reunited with Lenore after death? No. Now that he has that answer, perhaps he can "move on", so to speak.

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What impression could one have of the narrator and atmosphere in Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven"?

Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” creates the image of lonely, disconsolate gentleman sitting alone in his well-apportioned study.  It is a cold, damp winter night (“Once upon a midnight dreary”; “. . . it was in the bleak December”).  The gentleman in question, the narrator, laments the end of a romantic relationship with “the lost Lenore” while trying to lose himself in his books (“a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore”).  Sitting in his study, endless shelves of books adorning the walls and decorated with a bust of Pallas, the goddess of wisdom from Greek mythology, the narrator describes a scene both cozy and discomfiting, into which wanders a large black raven.  As the raven perches atop the aforementioned bust, the narrator tries in vain to contemplate the meaning of the bird’s arrival and its refusal to utter any words other than “Nevermore.” 

The scene as described by Poe through his narrator is clear:  A recently jilted lover pining over his misfortune and hoping against hope that the mysterious knock on his door symbols the return of Lenore.  Convinced that the bird is connected to his emotional travails, he laments aloud,

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite – respite and nepenthe [one of the leading anti-depressants of ancient Greece] from thy memories of Lenore!

Quaff, of quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!

Quote the raven, “Nevermore.”

Poe’s narrator is tormented by the introduction of the raven into his study.  The description of a cold, dreary winter night has established the atmosphere and the poem’s opening stanza suggests a certain tranquility, albeit tinged with sadness, rudely interrupted.  

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What impressions can be drawn regarding the narrator of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven"?

One can only surmise the identity and background of the narrator of Poe's poem "The Raven."  There is not much to go on within the text of the poem itself.  What does come across is that the narrator is a lonely, heartbroken intellectual (a library, a bust of figure from Greek mythology), longing for his lost love, Lenore.  A solitary morose figure sitting in his library immersing himself in books about the occult and in thought is suddently interrupted by the introduction of a large, black bird -- the raven.  In trying desperately to ascertain the meaning of this peculiar intrusion, and the bird's repeated use of the word "nevermore," the narrator's imagination begins to run away from him and he descends into a state of madness -- a condition very consistent with Poe's attachment to themes centered on various states of insanity.

The fate of the narrator's lost love, Lenore, is not specified, but one can conclude that she has passed away.  The narrator's (and Poe's) intense fascination with the occult has lead him to believe that the raven was sent from the underworld or afterlife ("Night's Plutonium Shore; Pluto ruled the underworld in Greek mythology), and that the bird is his connection to Lenore.  That the bird's only retort to every entreaty is to say "nevermore" drives the narrator to greater and greater depths of irrationality and anger.

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