1. Describe the setting of the poem as it is established in the first two stanzas. How does the setting complement the narrator’s physical and emotional state? The setting is a night in “bleak December”; the time is midnight, a “dreary” time long before sunrise. The fire is dying, the embers throwing shadows on the floor. The narrator is “weak and weary,” consumed by sorrow and emotionally overwrought, feeling as bleak and dreary as the dark December night. 2. What kind of books has the narrator been reading? What does his description of the books imply about their content? Why might he choose to read them? The narrator has been reading “quaint and curious” volumes of “forgotten lore.” The description suggests the books deal with odd and unusual practices not commonly known or understood, practices that may relate to the occult. Feeling deep sorrow because Lenore has died, he may be searching for a supernatural means to communicate with her.
What is the setting—time and place—of the poem? How would you describe the mood or atmosphere of the setting? What do you learn about the narrator and his state of mind? What do you infer about Lenore and his relationship with her? The narrator is reading “quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore.” Explain how the words “quaint” and “curious” can be interpreted in respect to the books he is reading. What kind of “forgotten lore” might be found in the books? Why do you suppose the narrator is reading these particular books at this time? The poem is a narrative with characters and a plot. Summarize what happens that sets the plot in motion. Considering how the poem begins, what kind of story do you think the narrator will tell?