The protagonist of a story is the central character, the person around whom the conflict centers. In this poem, that person is the narrator, our scholar who is reading late and night and suffering from grief over his lost love. The conflict that surrounds the narrator is the grief he suffers from - not the Raven himself. The Raven is a symbol of death, and a symbol of the narrator's grief. The narrator begins the story lonely and sad - consider the words "dreary, weary" - he also ends the story this way. He has lost his battle with grief, and it "shall be lifted, nevermore!"