Introduction to The Raven

First published in the Evening Mirror in January 1845, Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” was an overnight sensation. It remains the most popular and best-known poem that Poe ever wrote. During the final years of his life, Poe was often referred to as “the raven,” and his readers often incoporated phrases from the poem into their daily speech. “The Raven” is a dramatic monologue, a form in which the speaker inadvertantly reveals their psychological state. It consists of eighteen six-line stanzas told from the perspective of a scholarly young man grieving for his lost love, Lenore. The speaker's moods change as he interprets the raven’s presence and the meaning of a singular utterance, “Nevermore,” and descends deeper and deeper into despair.

A Brief Biography of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was an American writer who gained fame for his gothic tales. Poe’s life story makes it easy to see where the author got his ideas and how his work relates to his experience. First, his father abandoned the family; then his mother died when he was very young, and his foster father, John Allen, erratically swung between lenience and extreme discipline; finally, Poe married his much younger cousin Virginia, who died at an early age. It’s no wonder, then, that Poe's work focused on the macabre, the bizarre, and the outcast—the wonder is that he found a way to make such striking art from his suffering. Before his death at age forty, Edgar Allan Poe raised the American short story to a new level, writing works that completely modernized detective fiction, science fiction, and, of course, the horror story. His most well-known works include the poems “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”; the short stories ”The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”; and the novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Raven

The Raven

The speaker in "The Raven" is a man who has lost his love, Lenore. Very few specifics about the speaker's life and background are disclosed, but it is possible to draw certain inferences from the...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:05 am (UTC)

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The Raven

It is generally believed that Edgar Allan Poe composed his famous poem “The Raven” in New York City during the mid 1840s. Poe lived in New York City at various points throughout his life. He also...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 3:47 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

Poe uses several kinds of figurative language in "The Raven." One can find personification, the attribution of human qualities to something that is not human, when the speaker says, "each separate...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:26 am (UTC)

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The Raven

“The Raven” has qualities that resemble those of the ballad format, but strictly speaking, it is not a ballad. The case for the poem’s resemblance to a ballad rests on its narrative qualities....

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 12:21 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

There are many references to death throughout "The Raven," creating a somber and mysterious atmosphere and reinforcing how distraught the speaker is about the death of his lover, Lenore. It is as...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:37 am (UTC)

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The Raven

Poe uses imagery in "The Raven" to help construct a dark, foreboding atmosphere. The opening stanzas contain imagery that establish such an atmosphere. The speaker’s fire contains “dying ember[s]”...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 6:30 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

Sanity, insanity, and the fine line that divides them are notoriously difficult to define. The speaker of "The Raven" certainly seems to be in an altered mental and emotional state—one that...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:21 am (UTC)

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The Raven

There are different ways of looking at the raven in "The Raven," but from most perspectives, the raven itself is not evil. Rather, the raven reflects the speaker's shifting thoughts and feelings....

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 12:15 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

The mood of a poem is the feeling that the text generates in readers through the use of literary devices and structure. The mood of "The Raven" can be characterized as eerie and bleak. The context...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Raven

There are two ways to examine the role of the bust of Pallas in “The Raven.” From the first perspective, the bust lends greater authority and credibility to the raven’s pronouncements. Pallas is...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:16 am (UTC)

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The Raven

The chamber door in “The Raven” can be said to represent a portal between the everyday world in which most people live and the grief-stricken existence led by the narrator, still pining for his...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:44 am (UTC)

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The Raven

There are several reasons why Poe chose to write about a raven. First, the raven is a large black bird which has been associated with bad luck, prophecy, and the occult since ancient Greece, when...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:53 am (UTC)

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The Raven

In his essay “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe describes the process by which he wrote “The Raven.” He makes it clear that the poem’s creation was motivated not by the intention to impart a...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:08 am (UTC)

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The Raven

The question of whether the raven is real can be taken in several directions. First, some might argue that the raven is not real at all. At the start of the narrative, it is late at night, and the...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 12:43 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

One main idea of "The Raven" is that grief is a haunting, maddening, and imprisoning experience. The speaker in this poem seems quite intelligent and well-read. He can reference all sorts of...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2020, 11:55 am (UTC)

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The Raven

The speaker of the poem does not reveal any specifics regarding the death of his former beloved, Lenore. He says only that she is “lost” to him, and the acuteness of his grief indicates that her...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2020, 11:51 am (UTC)

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The Raven

Death is certainly one of the major themes of "The Raven." The speaker is continually brooding on the death of Lenore, his lost lover, and he soon comes to regard the raven as an emissary from "the...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2020, 11:18 am (UTC)

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The Raven

"The Raven" is a popular poem for several reasons. First, the poem has an intriguing and eerie narrative. The poem is set on a dark December evening, and the speaker is all alone. Suddenly, he...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Raven

The raven is a symbol of death in this poem, arriving at a time when the speaker has experienced a significant loss: the death of his beloved, Lenore, for whom he grieves deeply. The raven appears...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2020, 1:28 pm (UTC)

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The Raven

In Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven," the raven that enters the speaker's room is able to speak only a single word: "nevermore." The word means "never again," or "at no time in the future." Ravens...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2020, 6:11 pm (UTC)

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