How do I write a critical analysis of the Poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To write a critical analysis of “The Raven” or any other poem, you need to find a place to focus.  Some good areas to start are theme and literary devices.

The theme of a poem is the meaning the poet wants to impart.  There are different interpretations of poems, but in general the reader should find identify themes of dealing with loss, love, and isolation.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought

          to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for

          the lost Lenore—

You can find these themes in the discussion of the speaker’s feelings of sadness, and the description of his feelings of loss and frustration.  He sits up alone, trying to distract himself with study.

Another important element of literary analysis of a poem is identification of literary devices used in the poem.  Mood is an important element of the poem, because it helps to establish the theme.  The words “sorrow” and “dreary” are some of the ones used to establish the mood of lonliness.  This mood is also established by repetition, another literary device where phrases are repeated for effect.