Tone of the Raven


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The tone of “The Raven” is dark and melancholic. Poe uses words such as “bleak,” “haunted” “ghastly” and “grim” to create an atmosphere of despondency and sadness. Find how students write about the tone of the raven in their essays.

Tone of the Raven

Symbolism And Descriptive Imagery As The Tone Of Loss And Despair In The Raven



Long after his death 171 years ago, literary historians have hypothesized that Edgar Allan Poe blurs the lines between fact and fiction in his literary work. Considered one of Edgar Allen Poe’s best works, The Raven is one of the best narrative poems written in the first person, including descriptions of madness, disappearance, and grief. The Raven personifies intense grief and loss while using symbols throughout the poem to enforce the gothic mood that depicts the story of the character’s grief. The poem takes the reader on a journey where the battles are not physical but mental. In The Raven By Edgar Allen Poe, he writes a poem about death and loneliness, where he uses symbolic and descriptive imagery to set the tone of loss and despair.

The Raven by Poe uses symbolic imagery to illustrate to the reader what the depths of despair someone goes through a loss. Poe sets a dramatic tone in The Raven when he uses ‘once upon a midnight dreary’ ( 1.1) instead of the classic line, ‘once upon a time’; this gives the audience an image of what to expect while reading the poem and hooks their interests. In the first stanza alone, Poe uses imagery to pull in the reader by narrating what the character’s state is doing line by line. Poe describes the character nodding off into a nap while they are tapping. Poe places the setting as being a bleak December and talks about his lost Lenore. December is used as imagery because of how hard and cold the weather can be. He finds out that Lenore was a rare and radiant maiden. The line, ‘Nameless here for evermore,’ we can conclude that Lenore had died, and the main character is mourning her death. The character is just trying to pass through the night, without his love by his side. The second line in stanza two describes the dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor (2.2). This line shows how the character and the embers are alike and symbolize how death follows him around throughout the poem. Poe provides details of the room and its belongings throughout the poem to symbolize and distinguish the character’s feelings. The room demonstrates the focus on the emotional state of the character. Poe gives the reader added symbols within the room to set the tone and pace of the poem.

The symbolism of darkness and despair grows as the poem progresses. We see the character going closer and closer to the door. The darkness in this stanza represents the fear the character has when he is alone. The lines, ‘That I scarce was sure I heard you’—here I opened wide the door;—Darkness there and nothing more’ (4.5) illustrate how genuinely alone he is on this bleak December night. This is another example of how darkness is used as descriptive imagery. Poe uses darkness to descriptively show the character’s isolation at this point in the poem; at this point, he is calling out sir and madam, but it is only himself in the pitch-black room. After the character opens the door, he realizes there is no one there but him and the darkness. The character calls out to Lenore but hears nothing, and one can feel how Poe is setting the scene of self-doubt the character will be facing. The character’s loss of Lenore is making him indeed suffer, perhaps go slightly mad. At this point, one wonders if the isolation and despair are finally getting to him.

Regarding other symbols and descriptive imagery used in the poem, Poe illustrates tapping on the window to show the character’s isolation. He keeps checking the window to see who is out there, and you can sense the anxiety the character is facing internally. The character opens the window. In stanza seven, ‘Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many, a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; (7. 1-3). The Raven is the most symbolic emblem in the poem, the first time we imagine the Raven, it is flying through the window, and it is hitting the character in the face full force. The Raven flies on top of the Pallas statue. Pallas is the greek goddess of wisdom and can be a metaphor for the heaviness of death, sitting on top of the character’s mind.

The Raven is widely considered the most prominent symbol in the poem; the Raven represents death, loneliness and conveys what the character is feeling towards the end of the poem. The character goes on to ask Raven’s name, and the Raven speaks back and announces, ‘Nevermore!’ The significance of nevermore is telling because it is never going to happen again. Lenore is no more. She is forever gone. The character must face his isolation and that death and loneliness are around him because Lenore will not come back. The only words the Raven utters is nevermore. That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—( 10. 3-4). He sees that the Raven is just sitting there. At this point, the character gives up knowing the bird will be there forever with him, just like the feelings of loneliness he has. The character’s feelings have to consume him because it scares him and doubts his feelings. Poe describes the cushion with velvet lining, and he takes on the loneliness the character must feel, knowing she will be the only one sitting on the chairs from now on. The character sits with his feelings falling into deep despair and loneliness. Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen ( 14.1 ), you can feel the character’s air leaving his body by the scent of perfume around him. The panic he has is settling, and the grief he has subsides that he will never forget his love.

Concerning the end of the poem, Poe uses imagery to convey madness the character has fallen into; by the end of the poem, the character comes to terms with his despair feelings. The character continues to feel the loss and grief of his love, but learns that he realizes he is not entirely alone when he opens the window to let the Raven in. The window was the realization the character had to face and try to overcome. Poe used symbolism and descriptive imagery to set the tone of loss and despair. The Raven’s emotions appear to him as demonic. Furthermore, the Raven shadow casted over the character shows how heavy grief can be; meaning the mood created from these feelings has a permanent hold on his soul. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven takes you on a literal and figurative ride to show how grief and isolation from the death of a loved one can drive someone mad.

Tone of the Raven

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The Melancholic Tone of “The Raven”



The Melancholic Tone of “The Raven” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” is representing Poe’s own introvertedness, which is strangely moving and attractive to the reader. In his essay entitled “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe reveals his intent in writing “The Raven” and also describes the work of writing the poem as being carefully calculated in all aspects. Of all melancholy topics, Poe wished to use the most understood, death, specifically death involving a beautiful woman.

The tone in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” represents a painful state of mind, a mind that is vulnerable to madness that is brought upon by the death of his beloved lady. Which is representing Poe’s own personal problems, with those of the narrator in “The Raven,” his use of symbolism, and the language through the use of the raven’s refrain, the reader becomes aware of Poe’s prominent tone of sadness. A way that really brought out the melancholic tone in “The Raven” is Poe’s use of the first person. Poe used his real life experiences and put it down as first person so it seems more real.
After all his misfortunes in his life, which included living a life of poverty and being orphaned at a young age, Poe’s beloved wife Virginnia, died after a long illness. The narrator’s sorrow for the lost Lenore is paralleled with Poe’s own grief regarding the death of his wife. Confined in the chamber are memories of her who had frequented it. These recollections cultivate an enormous motive in the reader to know and be relieved of the bewilderment that plagues the narrator and Poe himself; the narrator wonders whether he will see his wife in the afterlife.

After Virginnia’s lingering death, Poe tried to relieve his grief by drinking. A parallelism is formed in “The Raven” between the condescending actions of the raven towards the narrator and the taunting of alcohol towards Poe. The raven patronizes Poe that he will never see his lost love again when uttering, “forget this lost Lenore” (Thompson, 83). Alcohol taunts Poe into never-ending depression and caused Poe to have a life-long problem with alcoholism, which led to his death.
In a similar way that the alcohol explored Poe’s inner devastation, the raven gives a look into the narrator’s innermost fears that he will never see his Lenore again. In the first stanza, questioning from what direction the “tapping” came, he throws open the door, the narrators’ nemesis not to be found. In fact it was some other realm that must have been opened up about his lost love and the noise, which is driving him insane. The narrator then opens the shutter, which could be interpreted as opening his soul to the outside world.

To his surprise, he discovers a raven, a “beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door” (Thompson, 53). The raven directs all further action in the poem, it ridicules and patronizes the narrator throughout the poem and its evil force creates a sense of suffering and anguish within the character. The climax of the poem is when the narrator faces his confused and disordered world and in the narrator’s madness he cries out, “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! ” (Thompson, 98).
Poe’s use of symbolism was influential in making the literary reputation of “The Raven”. The raven is symbolized as the narrator’s mournful and ceaseless remembrance of his lost love. The raven is important to the melancholic theme because it is often seen as being a bringer of death. Another symbol Poe used was the bust of Pallas, the Goddess of Wisdom. This is symbolic because it leads the narrator to believe that the raven speaks from wisdom.

When Poe writes, “… distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December… ”, he is again giving another symbol (Thompson, 7). Midnight and December oth symbolize closure, as midnight is the last hour of the day and December is the last month of the year. Kenneth Silverman connected the use of December with the death of Edgar’s mother (Silverman, 241), who died in that month; whether this is true or not is, however, not significant to its meaning in the poem. “Midnight” and “December” could also represent the anticipation of something new, a change to happen. Symbolism can also be seen in the chamber. The chamber in which the narrator is in is used to give a sense of the loneliness of the man, and the sadness he feels from the loss of beloved Lenore.
The room is well furnished, and this reminds the narrator of his lost love, which creates an effect of beauty in the poem. The storm outside is used to signify the isolation of the man. It shows a big difference between the calmness and stillness in the chamber and the harsh and wild storm outside. The language used by the raven is also utilized to give the piece a melancholic tone. In this poem it’s important to answer the questions that are already known, to create a picture of the self-torture in which the narrator endures. This way of interpreting igns are “one of the most profound impulses of human nature” (Quinn, 441).

Repetition of “Nevermore” impedes the speaker’s mindfulness in all actions, and baffles him into a victimized state of mind. The raven speaking, especially the sole phrase in the refrain is very important, for the exchange of conversation would not go on without the person or thing having something to respond to. The poem has a series of consecutive stanzas ending with the line “Quoth the Raven Nevermore”, which establishes the unchangeable supremacy of the raven, and causes the melancholic condition of the man.
The word nevermore also has a lot to do with the melancholic tone of the poem, specifically it’s meaning. Focusing on the raven and its raspy way of saying “Nevermore”, an effect is developed that shows a gloomy and depressed state of mind. That one word “Nevermore is used throughout Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” to underscore the developing tone of melancholy. This line completes the mood by giving the awareness of the inevitable; realizing that the raven’s response to any questions posed will be “Nevermore,” the character asks about his lost love, the “rare and radiant maiden hom the angels name Lenore,” probably on purpose to further torture and anguish himself (Thompson, 95). Throughout the poem “The Raven,” Poe makes a personal, introverted hell strangely mesmerizing poem to all. Poe’s haunting descriptions, unnerving parallelism between his life and the poem, and startling yet purposeful exploration of symbolism and situation, makes the reader look into realms of insanity which explores the soul in which is enjoyable yet strange.

Tone of the Raven

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