Why is the speaker sorrowful in "The Raven"?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe, the speaker is so sorrowful because he has lost the love of his life, Lenore.  In the beginning of the poem, the narrator is in his room (his "chamber") trying to read but also dozing.  He is grieving for Lenore, who has recently died.  When he hears a knock at the door, he answers to find no one there and consoles himself with the thought that it must have just been the wind.  Upon opening the window, a raven flies in and alights on a statue of Pallas Athena (symbolic of wisdom) at the top of his door. The narrator asks for the raven's name, and it answers, "Nevermore."  He continues to ask questions—each is given the exact same answer, and the speaker becomes more and more distraught.  By the end of the poem, he is afraid he'll never again be the man he was when Lenore was alive because when he asks, "Is there balm in Gilead," meaning will he ever find peace, the raven answers, "Nevermore." The narrator then goes on to ask if he will get to be with Lenore again in Heaven ("...in the distant Aidenn"), and he once again receives the same answer from the raven, "Nevermore."

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