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The meaning and significance of "nevermore" in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

Summary:

The word "nevermore" in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" symbolizes the narrator's descent into despair and hopelessness. Each repetition of "nevermore" by the raven emphasizes the permanence of loss, the futility of seeking solace, and the inevitability of a bleak future, reflecting the narrator's growing anguish and acceptance of his tragic fate.

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What does "nevermore" mean in "The Raven"?

My comment is brief, but I want to make it anyway.

"Nevermore" is the central word of the poem, if we go by Edgar Allan Poe's 1846 essay, "The Philosophy of Composition." In this essay he writes about how he wrote the poem, and it all started -- according to his essay -- with that one word. "The Philosophy of Composition" is a short essay, well worth reading (see the link below). In the essay, you'll find a discussion of how Poe decided on using a raven (at first, he was thinking of a human and then of a parrot) and of how he arranged the questions from the speaker from the general to the most personal, always receiving the same, one-word answer.

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What does "nevermore" mean in "The Raven"?

In Poe's famous poem "The Raven," the speaker, who has just lost his true love, Lenore, slowly goes mad from grief.  The raven seems to represent a visitor from the world of the dead, and the only phrase it utters, "nevermore," changes through the course of the poem.

At first, the raven gives it as a name, causing the speaker to marvel at such a strange creature and wonder about its previous owner.  Then, the word reminds the speaker that Lenore will "nevermore" be with him, and he begins to become enraged.  He asks the raven if Lenore is in heaven, and again, it answers, "nevermore."  In the end, the speaker goes insane, and the word "nevermore" can mean here that he will never be sane again.

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What does "nevermore" mean in "The Raven"?

In general, the word mean "never" or "never again."  But the meaning is slightly different at different points in the poem.

The first time it appears, it means "never."  The speakers asks the raven to tell him its name and it says it will not.

It means the same thing the third time it appears -- bird says he won't leave.

But then in Stanza 13, there's a different meaning.  Now it means "never again."  The speaker is saying that Lenore will never again sit in that chair.  Most of the rest of the times the word appears in the poem, that is what it means -- including the last line, which says that the speakers soul will never again be lifted out of shadow.

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Why does the raven say "nevermore"?

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 can mimic human speech, and unless the bird is a figment of the speaker's imagination, it has learned the word through observation.

For the poet's purposes, the single, enigmatic response the bird offers to the speaker's questions exacerbates the speaker's grief and frustration. The speaker is eager for this unbidden visitor, whom he believes to be a source of information about the unknowable, to tell him that he will recover from his grief or to assure him that one day be reunited with the late Lenore.

With the choice of the word "nevermore," Poe creates a scenario in which the raven exacerbates the speaker's grief. The speaker does not receive platitudes or promises that his suffering will one day end. Nor is he told that there will be a reunion with his beloved Lenore in the afterlife. Throughout this process, the raven's status is somewhat ambiguous. But whether the raven's utterances are imaginary or the thoughtless, meaningless repetitions of a learned word, the word "nevermore" offers no assurances that the speaker will rebound from the tragedy in his life.

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of "nevermore" change each time it's spoken?

First, the narrator demands to know the name of the strange bird that has walked through the window into his study, and the bird replies, "'Nevermore.'" The narrator isn't too surprised by this answer that has "little relevancy" to the question, but he does think it is a curious, and unique, situation. Next, the narrator says how "'Other friends have flown before,'" and he assumes that this raven, too, "'will leave [him]'" the next day. However, the raven replies, "'Nevermore,'" seeming to indicate that he will never leave the narrator.

After this, the narrator begins to consider that perhaps "'God hath lent [him] . . . / Respite—respite and nepenthe from [his] memories of Lenore . . . " In other words, he thinks that maybe the raven has been sent by God to distract him from the grief he feels for his dead lover, Lenore. When the raven says "'Nevermore'" this time, he seems to indicate that he was not sent by God. As a result, the narrator begins to wonder if the raven was actually sent by the "'Tempter,'" or the devil. He asks if there is "'balm in Gilead?'" By this, he seems to refer to the idea of something that cures all, perhaps something that will lessen the pain felt by Lenore's death. When the raven says "'Nevermore,'" the narrator infers that nothing will ever lessen the pain that he feels, and he grows angrier.

Next, the narrator wants to know "'if, within the distant Aidenn,'" he will ever be reunited with Lenore. Aidenn is another word for paradise, so we might assume he is asking about heaven, where he might be brought back together with Lenore. When the raven says "'Nevermore,'" the narrator assumes that this means that he will never, ever see Lenore again in this life or the next, and this enrages him. He screams at the bird, ordering it back to the underworld, "'the Night's Plutonian shore,'" and the bird replies, "'Nevermore,'" one last time. It seems as though the bird is saying that it will never leave the narrator, just as it did when the narrator first began to speak to it; this time, however, instead of thinking of the bird as a distraction or a possible source of comfort, the narrator believes that his soul will never escape the bird's terrible "shadow that lies floating on the floor . . . "

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of "nevermore" change each time it's spoken?

Great question! The word "Nevermore" and its use in this poem is particularly crucial to the overall feeling and dread and suspense that Poe creates. Consider how the different meanings of this word are actually dictated by the narrator in the poem, rather than the bird itself. All the raven says is "Nevermore," it is the narrator of the poem who gives that word a meaning and leads himself on into a terrible cycle of depression and darkness.

"Nevermore" first means that the raven will not forsake the speaker; then that there is no relief, and finally that the raven will give him no peace. Consider how this last meaning is dictated by what is said to the raven by the narrator:

"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"

Quote the Raven "Nevermore."

Of course, the fact that "Lenore" and "Nevemore" rhyme, means that with every answer the narrator is haunted with the echo of her name, and he is kept being reminded of her.

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of "nevermore" change each time it's spoken?

The narrator is already beside himself with grief because of the death of his lover Lenore. When the raven first flies into his room, landing on a bust of Athena, the narrator asks the bird to tell him its name, to which the bird replies for the first time "Nevermore." Next, the narrator claims that "Other friends have flown before," and he believes that the raven will leave him too "as [his] Hopes have flown before"; however, the raven tells him "'Nevermore,'" suggesting the bird will never leave the narrator (and hinting that it could be symbolic). The narrator begins to think that perhaps the bird had a melancholy master who said the word a lot, and this is how the bird learned it, and he pulls up a chair to consider the strange bird.

Now, he wonders if the raven has been sent by God to give him a bit of a break from his grief, to help him forget it for awhile, but the raven tells him "Nevermore." Not sent by God then, not to provide relief. After this apparent rebuke, the narrator suggests that the bird is a prophet of evil. He now asks it if there is "balm in Gilead," a phrase that refers to a spiritual medicine that is supposed to heal all sinners of any sin. But the raven replies, "Nevermore," suggesting that we are never saved from our sins. Growing angrier, the narrator asks if "within the distant Aidenn," his soul will "clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore"; he seems to want to know if there's a paradise, a heaven perhaps, where he will be reunited with his lover, but the bird tells him "Nevermore." At this, the narrator becomes enraged, attempting to force the bird to leave. He says, "quit the bust above my door! / Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" But the raven speaks, for the last time, saying, "Nevermore."

It might be possible that the raven is just repeating the one word it learned from its former master. However, this doesn't account for the fact that it never leaves the narrator after this encounter. The bird causes the narrator great pain, suggesting that there is no salvation from sin, that there is no heaven in which he will see Lenore again. It has, symbolically, cast the narrator into a world of doubt and despair from which he, apparently, never recovers. The bird never goes because the narrator's mortal despair never goes. Perhaps the bird perches on a bust of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, because it, too possesses wisdom. When it tells the narrator that he will "Nevermore" meet with Lenore, it condemns the narrator to a lifetime of figurative darkness and pain.

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of "nevermore" change each time it's spoken?

The Raven, published in 1845, by Edgar Allan Poe tells a story of a talking raven who visits a man who is distraught over losing his love, Lenore. Symbolically, ravens are birds of ill-omen. By consistantly saying, "Nevermore" the raven makes the man even more upset. Each question he asks the Raven, is answered by "Nevermore" and although the man knows what the answer will be, each question becomes more depressing. His demeanor at the beginning of the poem was weak and weary, but, by the end of the poem, he descends into madness. The bird speaks not out of wisdom, but it seems to be the only word it knows. Although he knows no matter what he asks the bird, its answer will be Nevermore, he continues to ask it questions. Stanza by stanza, the tension in the poem builds, then it is torn down again, proving there is no moral in the raven's "Nevermore".

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of the word "nevermore" change each time it is spoken?

At the beginning of the poem, the word "nevermore" is just a response by the raven to the questions of the narrator.  However, as the "conversation" continutes, the word becomes an expression of the narrator's own feelings, even though it is still spoken by the bird.  The narrator is grief-stricken, and feels that his grief will last eternally.  It will "nevermore" go away.  The word becomes a symbol of the narrator's internal conflict.

Poe, in "The Philosophy of Composition", explained that grief was his chosen theme in this poem.  He chose the word nevermore because of the strong "o" sound, feeling that this particular vowel best expressed a feeling a sadness.

The link for this essay is below.

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of the word "nevermore" change each time it is spoken?

The word begins as just an amusement to the narrator of the poem - "How clever a bird to be able to say 'nevermore'!"  But then the narrator begins to choose questions to ask the bird, hoping to get some sort of different reply.  When he doesn't get the answers he wants (the answer is always 'nevermore'), he becomes angry at the bird and despairs over his lost love, Lenore.  Finally, the narrator just accepts that his life with Lenore is over - there is no hope for an afterlife existence with her - all because of this bird's limited vocabulary.  Check out the link below for more information - Good luck!

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In "The Raven," how does the significance of "nevermore" change each time it's spoken?

1:  Minimizes the importance of the sound with “nothing more.”

2. Lenore shall not be named again in this world – i.e. she is dead.

3.  The strangeness of the sound and the narrator’s fears are minimized by the suggestion that the sound is only caused by some random visitor, and nothing more.”

4. The narrator opens the door and the absence of any visitor and there being only darkness not light  is emphasized by “nothing more.”

5. The nothing more suggests the sound of Lenore is only an echo of his obsession,
“nothing more.”

6. Again, “nothing more” resurfaces as part of a materialistic explanation of the sound.

7. The Raven is naturalized by “nothing more.”

8. When people have gone to Hades, they no longer exist, thus no longer have names.

9. Suggests this is an implausible name for a Raven and still trivializes the omen.

10. The Raven will never leave.

11. Suggests that nevermore is a term used by those in despair.

12. Asks why the Raven says thus; transforms the Raven into a gaunt symbol of loss.

13. Lenore’s absence is eternal; thus never and ever are conflated.

14. Continues the idea of eternal presence of absence.

15. Eternal life (in heaven or hell) means there is no end to missing Lenore.

16. He shall never meet Lenore in heaven.

17. The Raven shall never leave.

18. Despair shall never leave.

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Why does the speaker in "The Raven" think the bird's name is "Nevermore"?

The speaker asks the bird its name, and it answers “Nevermore”.

This poem is the gloomy tale of a student sitting up at night pondering the girl he lost. Oh, yes, haven’t we all had those nights! This guy gets a spooky visitor though, in the form of a raven.

The bird hangs out with him for a few stanzas at first. Since he has been up for some time, he talks to it. The bird is just there, perching on a bust. Creepy! He decides to ask it its name. After you have talked to someone for a bit, you want to know his name, right?

Why does he decide "Nevermore" is its name? Well, really, he doesn't.

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

He seems confused by it and appears to think it's unlikely "Nevermore" is actually the bird's name.

Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

Actually, “nevermore” can mean a lot of things. The bird might not have been telling him his name at all. Or, it might be the only word the bird can say. The speaker is suitably freaked out by it. Ravens are not the cheeriest birds to begin with. I don’t think you should be surprised that this one says a creepy word!

The raven’s dialogue “Nevermore” adds to the mood of the poem. It is late at night. The speaker is disturbed by the bird. He seems lonely. He wants to talk. He feels that the bird, like everyone else in his life, is going to desert him. “Nevermore” certainly can be interpreted to imply that, but it shows the speaker's state of mind that he reads so much into one word.

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In Poe's poem "The Raven," what does the speaker think when the raven first says, "Nevermore"?

Stanza 8 is where I would start to look for this answer. In this stanza, the speaker seems to be mostly amused by his unexpected avian visitor. In his happier mood, the speaker takes it upon himself to ask the name of the raven. It's a perfectly understandable reaction. People always ask my dog her name instead of asking me her name. The speaker in the poem does the same thing.

"Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
The speaker isn't honestly expecting any kind of answer, so he is quite shocked that the raven gives any answer at all, let alone an answer that sounds like a word. The speaker is shocked into marveling at the raven's plain speech.
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Despite the marvel, the narrator admits that the bird's answer doesn't make much sense. He even points out that no other human being has likely ever come across an animal with the name "Nevermore." Next, he assumes that the bird will fly away and be gone by morning. Unfortunately, this is when the raven choose to repeat its "name."
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In Poe's poem "The Raven," what does the speaker think when the raven first says, "Nevermore"?

The speaker first tries to rationalize the raven's answer.  The word "nevermore" seemed to answer the question the narrator had just asked, which is "what is your name"?  The way the narrator explains this coincidence is to assume that the raven is repeating what a previous owner said.  Here are the lines from the poem:

`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore

The narrator also assumes that the raven will fly away the next morning.  He is wrong in both assumptions.

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What does the raven's "nevermore" signify in stanza 12?

In stanza 12, the raven does not actually speak. The narrator takes a seat, sad that Lenore "shall press [its cushions], ah, nevermore!" in order to ponder the raven's origins and meaning. He feels that the bird's eyes "burned into [his] bosom's core" and so he wants to figure out what it is and what it means.

In stanza 13, then, he comes to the conclusion that perhaps God has sent this raven to him to offer him "respite and nepenthe from [his] memories of Lenore." He calls himself a "Wretch" and seems to think he has failed to be grateful for this proffered break, this opportunity to be distracted from his grief and forget it for a while. However, when the raven says, "Nevermore," the narrator takes this to mean that his assumption was incorrect, that the bird was not sent by God to help him.

In stanza 14, the narrator yells at the bird, calling it a "thing of evil" and something that the "Tempter sent" (referring to the Devil). He asks if "there is balm in Gilead." By this, he appears to be asking if there is any cure for his terrible grief, some way to lessen his pain, or even to reverse death; the "balm of Gilead" is a phrase used to describe something that would be a universal cure for whatever might ail a person. When the bird says, "Nevermore, " it seems as though he is saying "no" to all of these possibilities: there is no cure for the grief and pain brought on by death and that death is irreversible and eternal.

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What does the raven's "nevermore" signify in stanza 12?

In stanza 12, of Poe's poem "The Raven," the raven does not actually say "nevermore."  Instead, the narrator of the poem is thinking about what the bird meant when it said "nevermore" two stanzas before.

What's going on in stanza 12 is that the narrator has sat down in a place where Lenore used to sit and has started to try to think about what the bird meant when it last said "nevermore."

What the raven meant the last time it said "nevermore" was that it (the raven) would not leave the next day as the narrator hoped it would.

The link has a summary of the whole poem...

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