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Edgar Allan Poe: Interpretation of “The Raven” Essay

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Updated: Mar 15th, 2022

“The Raven” is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in American literature. Reading the poem for the first time, the image of a lonely person who grieves the death of his beloved woman appears in one’s mind. But with careful analyzing it can be associated with larger social, cultural, and historical issues, which influence the meaning and the interpretation of the poem itself.

First of all, death is an unavoidable event in the human life span, which can be understood by everyone in society. The physiological torture of the person in the poem represents any bereaved individual, who is left on the earth to cope with the loss, regrets, and grief, and with the realization that death is a present reality, and it has changed life forever. No wonder the author chose the metaphors and symbols to highlight the depressing tone in the poem.

Edgar Allan Poe tried to make emphasize the theme of death. This poetic trick is felt throughout the artistic work of the author. In this respect, one can judge Poe’s “The Raven” as an additional point on the main character’s despair. To run the gamut of the whole idea reflected in the poem a reader should be familiarized with the rest of Poe’s works. For instance “The Fall of Ashers” represents the same idea of death in peoples’ life span. An accurate reader should make some conclusions as to the motives that drove Poe in composing such a great and full-of-sorrow poem.

One of the suggestions that dominate Poe’s talent in writing “The Raven” was the succession of terrible events the author encountered in his life. Perhaps, this was the main reason for Poe’s addiction to alcohol. On the other hand, it is strange while looking at his brilliance in writing while nothing pleased the author in life. One of the suggestions is the death of his mother when Edgar Poe was a little boy (Hayes 194). He and his brother adored their mother after her death. They were devoted to the power of motherhood. Unfortunately, a new tremendous hit appeared in Poe’s life when his brother died. Later on, the author will write on this case the following strokes: “There can be no tie more strong than that of brother for brother – it is not so much that they love one another as that they both love the same parent” (Hayes 194). Hence, the first reason for writing “The Raven” is implied in Poe’s personal life tragedy.

Transforming the image of the raven into more realistic shapes, one might point out the place on which it perched. It was a bust of Pallas, an ancient goddess of wisdom. To describe the symbolic interpretation of it, Poe described the truth of life realized through the inevitable death. The raven is about to tell the narrator some wise remarks. These are interrelated with other moments in the poem striving at the end of the social life of a human being. It is a mentioning of “bleak December” or “midnight”. These features tend to be associated with a decline of something that people used to have in their life. This feature interpellates direct notes on historical and cultural issues.

For instance, the author uses quite enough symbols and metaphors reflecting the essence of the mythological explanation of life. To be precise, it is not so much that Poe is inclined to strengthen some definite philosophical or religious trend, as that he wants to encompass prolific thoughts in their diversity. Thus, Poe’s vocabulary in the poem includes such words as Balm in Gilead (from The Old Testament of the Bible); Plutonian (taken from Roman mythology, the ancient god of the underworld), and some others (Hallqvist para. 3). It reconciles a huge versatility of Poe’s language in his works. Doing it in the wrong way and using some trivial patterns, the author’s works would appear boring, dull, and uninteresting.

Getting closer to the character of the author, “The Raven” solely helps to understand his cries and sorrows. Furthermore, insisting on Poe’s invoke to the wholeness of the aesthetical heritage of humanity, one agrees that the trouble of Poe surpasses such troubles about to happen in any other life. At this point, one can notice the pivotal caveat as per social reality. The entire nature of it concerns people living in all times and epochs.

Edgar Allan Poe realized reality through the limb of human experience, heritage, traditions, and cultures as well as through personal contemplation. In this peculiarity of the author, one can render his works. “The Raven” is without any doubt one of the most gorgeous works in American poetry, despite its “decadent” mood of narrating. The conceptual part of the work responds to the far-reaching issues of what the sense of life when it is destroyed is. Looking at the symbol of the “ebony bird”, one should conclude that in the variety of different cultures the raven is considered with wisdom and longevity. Moreover, in the case of Poe’s poem, this image refers to “incomprehensibility” of what one is eager to know or achieve urgently. It is shown in the repeated word “nevermore” in the poem.

To sum up, the theme of grief, sorrow, and hardships of life is heard in the poem by Edgar Allan Poe “The Raven”. The whole interpretation of the poem showed points on not only the author’s life troubles, but through them, it holds features of broader cultural, historical, and social domains. In this respect, the observation of Poe’s poem should possess a more distinct and critical view on the diversity of symbols and metaphors used. Further, still, readers are better to get acquainted with life prospects and other works of the writer, so that to have a clear idea about their mutual influence on each other.

Works cited

Christoffer Hallqvist. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. 1998. Web.

Hayes, Kevin J. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Poe, Edgar Allan, and Barger, Andrew. Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems. New York: Bottletree Books LLC, 2008.

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