Edgar Allan Poe Literary Analysis Literary Analysis of The Raven by Paul Heimel The life of Edgar Allan Poe was as morbid and melancholy as his works. After the abandonment by his father and the disturbing death of his mother, both prominent traveling actors, Edgar was reluctantly forced into orphanage. He was later taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy tobacco merchant. Their relationship was shaky, at best, and the contention between the two would last until Allan’s death, where his will left nothing for Poe. Amidst these calamities, came only more distress.
The death John Allan’s wife, the woman who cared for Poe after his mother died, and a large amount of debts acquired from gambling that forced him into early resignation from the University of Virginia, only sent Edgar into a deeper state of despair. But the most devastating blow came when his beloved wife, Virginnia Clemm, died from the same disease his mother perished from–consumption. The tragedies in Poe’s life are reflected in his poem, “The Raven,” and can be predominately seen through the comparison between the loss of his wife, and the narrators loss of Lenore. The apparent tone in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” seemingly represents a very painful condition of mind, an intellect sensitive to madness and the abyss of melancholy brought upon by the death of a beloved lady. The parallelism of Poe’s own personal problems with those of the narrator in “The Raven,” and the repetitive verse by the raven, makes the reader aware of Poe’s prominent tone of melancholy.
A strong device for the melancholic tone is Poe’s life experiences. 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 ghostly recollections bring out a state of eager anticipation in the reader to know and be relieved of the bewilderment that the narrator and consequently Poe himself are experiencing; the narrator ponders 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 condescends that Poe will never see his lost love again when uttering, “forget this lost Lenore,” in line 84.
Alcohol taunts Poe into ceaseless depression and caused him to have a life-long problem with alcoholism, which eventually led to his death. In a similar manner to which alcohol explored Poe’s inner devastation, the raven brings out the narrator’s innermost fears that he will never see his Lenore again. The articulation of language through the use of the raven and it’s refrain is also utilized to produce the melancholic tone in “The Raven.” In the poem it is important that the answers to the questions are already known, to illustrate the self-torture to which the narrator endures. Repetition of “Nevermore” baffles the narrator into a victimized state of mind. Articulation of “Nevermore” also emphasizes the features of the word itself, specifically its meaning.
Through focusing on the raven and its raspy “Nevermore,” an effect is developed that highlights a gloomy and depressed state of mind. A refrain is used throughout Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” to impress upon the developing tone of melancholy. The refrain accomplishes this emphasis through its creation of an awareness of the inevitable; realizing that the raven’s response to any question will be “Nevermore,” the character asks about his lost love, the “rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore” (line 96), perhaps on purpose to experience further torture and anguish. Through “The Raven,” Poe makes his personal hell become strangely mesmerizing and enjoyable for everyone. Poe’s haunting descriptions, unnerving parallelism between his life and the poem, and alarming continuation of a melancholic tone, draws the reader into spheres of insanity which at once explores the soul and pleases the reader. Poetry Essays.