Where does the speaker believe the raven comes from?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speaker does not know with utter certainty the raven's origin, but he assumes, initially, that the raven cannot possibly be from some 'Nightly shore' as he states in stanza eight: 

“...thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore— ...”
He states that the creature is definitely not some fearful beast that has mistakenly come in from the darkness—some desolate, miserable place which can only be associated with malice or some other ignominy. In addressing the raven, he seems to assume that on the 'Night's Plutonian' shore it has some status, since he seeks to know what its 'lordly name' in this realm, which is the dominion of the dead, would be. The obvious paradox suggests his confusion. Why would the raven have acquired a position of status if it were not from such a place?
The fact that the speaker cannot decide where the raven is from suggests the turmoil in his mind. He has been devastated by the loss of his love, Lenore, and believes that the creature is there to torment him. His cry later in the poem that the raven should go 'back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!' is an indication of his unstable state of mind. At this point he believes that the raven is an evil beast and he cannot tolerate its presence. He wants to wallow in his grief and does not seek any company.
The speaker's confusion is accentuated in the previous stanzas where he refers to the raven as a 'thing of evil,' whether it is a prophet or just a normal bird. At the same time he beseeches it to predict if, in faraway Eden, he would ever regain Lenore's affection and whether his pain and sorrow over losing his love would ever be soothed. In this context he also suggests that the raven, although a 'thing of evil,' also adores God, who is good. This dichotomy also emphasizes his misery and confusion.
In the end, it does not seem to matter where the bird is from. Its continuous presence seems to suggest that the speaker's anguish will never cease.
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The origin of the raven is ambiguously revealed when the narrator suggests that it comes "wandering from the Nightly Shore" and asks why its name is on the "Night's Plutonian Shore." Some scholars believe that the "Nightly Shore" was a Biblical allusion referring to when Noah released a raven in hopes of finding dry land after the flood. If this is the case, the raven's origins are in a remote, vast sea. Others believe that Poe is referencing the rivers of Styx and Acheron located in the underworld according to Greek mythology. This theory coincides with the next piece of evidence that alludes to the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto. Poe's imagery suggests that the raven comes from a dark, vast location where water is present. Although the raven's origins are ambiguous, the reader can infer that the raven either comes from Hell or a vast unknown sea.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems that the speaker thinks that the raven has come to him from the land of the dead.  We can see this in the places where he refers to the bird coming from  "Night's Plutonian shore."  This is referring to Pluto, god of the land of the dead.

However, it does not appear to me that he thinks the bird come from Hell, even though he seems to think it might be a devil.  He says that both he and the raven adore God.  That implies that the bird is not really evil.

This last part is confusing, though, because he also says the bird might be sent by "the tempter" -- Satan.  So I think that overall, he is sure the bird is supernatural, but not sure if it is from God or the devil.

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The Raven

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