Poets can use many different devices to get their point across. Creating the melancholic tone in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” Poe uses many devices to introvert the effect of the crisis of hell; this is unusually moving and somewhat attractive to the reader. Of all melancholy topics, Poe wish to use the one that was universally understood, death, specifically death involving a beautiful woman. He doesn’t stop using poetic devices throughout the writing especially when he is trying to get an effect out of the reader. Even one of the main characters, the Raven, is a symbol. A raven is usually the symbol of something dark and sinister.
A raven is also a sign of death. Poe does not use poetic devices to just describe characters, but his way of writing also becomes part of the plot and gives the reader clues on what exactly happened or is going on. It can be argued that the Raven is possibly a figment of the imagination of the narrator, obviously upset over the death of Lenore. The narrator claims in the first stanza that he is weak and weary. He is almost napping, as he hears the rapping at the door, which could quite possibly make the sound something he heard in a near dream-like state, possibly not even an actual sound.
He is terrified of being alone in the chamber he is in when the poem takes place. The “sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before. (13)” When the poem opens, he is reading over books of “forgotten lore. (2)” His imagination is probably already running wild, the surroundings are helpful to the situation he finds himself in. The word chamber implies a cold, rigid feel, like the narrator has shut himself away from everything in order to be alone to brood and torture himself.
The words ghost and dying ember gives the reader a feeling of discomfort, like something is not quite right with the situation. The narrator opens the chamber door into darkness, deep darkness, and silence. He stands there, fearing what is before him. December is also the time of year when most plants are dead, to which extent the narrator remarks that it is a bleak December, making for a gloomy scene both outside and inside the chamber. There is also a tempest, a storm, brewing outside; it may not be an actual physical storm but an emotional storm not good for calming the spirits of the narrator.
Thoughts are running through his head and it is safe to say that he is frightening himself more than the situation itself at this point. “Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door. (16)” He is literally trying to talk himself down from the frightened state he is in, and it is quit obvious due to the ranting and raving by the character. The raven also symbolizes the torture the narrator has inflicted upon himself due to the death of Lenore, a “rare and radiant maidennameless here forever more. (11)” The raven’s refusal to answer any question asked of him with an answer other than nevermore only tortures the narrator even more.
The narrator is as much saddened by the arrival of the raven, as he is disturbed. He says, “On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before. (59)” He is still recovering from the sadness of the loss of Lenore and in this raven he may find comfort for a while, but the raven will only be gone in the morning, just like he wants everything else will. The narrator can anticipate the answers of the raven, knowing that the only word it speaks is nevermore, and tortures himself even more by asking certain questions to which the answer nevermore would devastate him.
He asks if there is balm in Gilead. He even goes so far as to ask the raven if Lenore is in Paradise-“within the distant Aidenn, it shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore. (11)” The answer nevermore sends the narrator into a rage. He calls the raven a prophet, but cannot place if it is a prophet of evil or of good. He takes the words of the raven to heart, especially the raven’s words about Lenore and the state of her soul, as evidenced by his rage at the raven, “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave that black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! Quit the bust above my door! (98) ” Before this, the raven’s words intrigued the narrator, but these words enflame the narrator, due to the nature of the conversation; he cannot handle the stress of remembering Lenore and his loss for even a second. Furthermore, the raven serves as a perfect symbol of death as it is a non-reasoning creature. Death itself is not something that can be easily understood by humans, and neither are the raven’s cries of nevermore.
The narrator is trying to apply human reason to both the raven and the death of Lenore, something that cannot be done and will not answer any of the narrator’s questions. The raven may also represent the narrator’s fear of living without Lenore. When the narrator sits in the chair, he thinks how she will never sit there again- she shall press, ah, nevermore! In the next stanza, he senses angels in the room by their perfume smell-“perfumed by an unseen censer swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor. (80)”And cries for nepenthe to make him forget his lost Lenore and the pain he has felt since her death.
The narrator is crying for nepenthe to forget his pain, to allow him to go on because he cannot do so without Lenore. Everything he does reminds him of her, even sitting on the chair. The raven plays an important part in the poem, hence the title, “The Raven. ” The raven has so many meanings: death, sorrow, fear, frustration, and the self-inflicted torture of the narrator. All these things can attest to the mental state of the narrator due to the loss of Lenore. As the poem comes to a close, we see that the narrator will forever be reminded of death and the fact that he, as a part of his nature, cannot understand it.
And he will be forever reminded of Lenore and his loss, as the raven is sitting there above the door-“and the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door(103)” “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door, (101)” he pleads. But the raven will not go. The raven will sit above the narrator’s door every day for eternity to remind the narrator that he cannot understand death. And left under the shadow the raven casts on the floor is the soul of the narrator that shall be lifted-nevermore!