“The Raven” First Post

Using poetic devices such as internal rhyme and anaphora, Poe tells a fairly straight forward account of a man’s encounter with a “Stately” raven (VII 45). At the start of the work, the man is already on edge due to the mysterious tapping at his chamber door. In lines 16-17, he says “the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain/ Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before” (III). However, throughout the work, the reader witnesses the deterioration of the reader’s mental state. He finds himself shrieking at the raven in line 114, commanding it to leave his door (XVII). This drastic shift in mental state makes the reader question the events of the poem. Surely the paranoia of the speaker has caused certain parts of the night’s events to become embellished. Where can the reader draw the line between reality and the speaker’s distorted vision?

Similar to the narrator of “The Raven”, the speaker of Walt Whitman’s work, “Song of Myself” share a sense of a hysteria. In Part II of Whitman’s work, the narrator is frantically trying to bond with nature, saying “I am mad for it to be in contact with me” (VI 26). However, one might also argue that Whitman’s speaker seems well grounded in comparison to “The Raven’s” speaker. He even states that he is a 37 year old in perfect health in line 10. What do you think of the mental state of the narrator of “Song of Myself” compared to “The Raven”? Do you think they are similar or different?

Throughout the work, the narrator holds a dialogue of sorts with the raven sitting above his door. He asks the raven a series of questions, to which the raven replies, “Nevermore”. The raven’s constant response drives the speaker mad, ultimately imprisoning his soul in eternal sadness over the death of Lenore. Depending on the reader’s self, his questions for raven change. He asks about a variety of things such the “balm in Gilead” (XV 104) and “Lenore” (XVI 110). As a result, the meaning of the word “Nevermore” also varies. How does the meaning of “Nevermore” reflect the reader’s self? What do you think “Nevermore” means and what effect does it have on the speaker’s mental state?

 

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6 Responses to “The Raven” First Post

  1. Mika Katz says:

    I definitely was intrigued by this poem and it’s use of the word “Nevermore”. The speaker himself is going insane from the responses of the raven. I found myself feeling a little frantic too by the repetition of “Nevermore”. This raven’s remarks are very important. “Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, ‘Doubtless,’ said I, ‘what it utters is its only stock and store Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster” (Lines 72-74). The speaker makes it obvious that he knows the raven does not speak wisdom but it still manages to manipulate and frustrate him. The raven also serves a very important purpose because it answers questions that the man already knows the answers to. I find it very cleaver that Edgar Allen Poe chose to use a bird, because if the raven were depicted as a human being he would obviously be able to answer the questions that the man is asking. This idea that the author is asking these questions that he knows the answers to, really illustrates his self-torture. I also that that it was very interesting when the raven decides to land on “Pallas”, because now suddenly the author is lead to the conclusion that the raven does possess wisdom.

  2. Rachel Olshin says:

    I find the word “nevermore” fascinating. The word “never”, putting an end to something, to cut off the potentail for future, and the word “more” opens up the possibility again, opening the future. It is oxymoronic in its literal translation, and lends itself to be the perfect and puzzling response for the Raven. The Narrator, struggling with his loss of Lenore, seems to drive himself crazy with this exact notion. He is grappling with his loneliness with the fact the Lenore is “never”, that she is gone. However, the fact that he is talking to the Raven about her, may seem to imply a possible return. This murkiness of her existence, is ultimately what seems to drive the Narrator mad, or into a tizzy of darkness. As he says, “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor 126. Shall be lifted—nevermore!”

  3. Rahul Roy says:

    With the accompanying of the first person “I’s” and the constant frustration derived from the ravens nevermore presents a mind that is unstable. In Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” he speaks with a tamed stable voice; he establishes his identity and his views. In “The Raven,” however, the constant repeating of “nevermore” drove the speaker to “[sit] engaged in guessing [having] no syllable expressing.” The identity is established, but the views are unstable so the line between reality and perspective cannot be found. The word nevermore seems to be associated with denial. The constant repetition of this word, as Debra says, “shows that he will never be able to remove the grief that he has for her.” However, I believe that denial is a double-edged blade and that it goes against the narrator accepting this state. It’s rather a giving-in to this state instead of an acceptance and that’s the self that “nevermore” presents.

  4. I think the meaning of “nevermore” reflects the speaker’s own self fulfilling prophecy. He seems transfixed on the Raven’s reply even when it is obvious what the Raven’s reply will be over time. The Raven doesn’t say anything other than Nevermore. The entire scene is artificially created by the speaker. He inserts “Lenore” into the dialogue. He calls the The raven a prophet when it really himself that is prophesying his inability to be with her anymore. He projects a life onto the Raven, that he was the pet of some depressed owner. Then that he is talking about Lenore. And then that he is sent from hell. All the while, it is really the thought’s of the speaker that count and the “Nevermore” is irrelevant, because he will say this no matter what. I think this becomes clear in the ending: “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted—nevermore!”
    Regardless of what the Raven does, he will never rise again. He places Himself in his own state, not the raven.

  5. I do agree with the idea of the narrator’s deteriorating mental state as a main subject of the poem. Specifically, when the raven lands upon “a bust of Pallas” (VII.48), I interpreted this as an apparent symbol for the disintegration of the narrator’s sound state of mind; the correlation between the representation of death manifested in the form of the raven, and the purposeful placement of a bust of Athena, the goddess of intelligence, seemed clever and subtle to me. However, I disagree that the repetition of the phrase “nevermore” is what drives the narrator into madness, but that the raven’s answer of “nevermore” assert that the narrator will never find peace of mind or “respite and nepenthe” (IVX.96) from the memories of his lover, and that he will never know peace in Heaven, referenced in line 104.

  6. Debra Zarny says:

    The raven only says one line in the entire poem, and this is the word “nevermore.” If the raven is only allotted one word to say, then this is the perfect one. It seems that this word can answer many different questions that the speaker has. It can be an answer to his question of if he will see Lenore again. The raven is coming to finally solve this- he says, “nevermore” which means that she is long gone. The fact that this repeated word is making the speaker mad shows that he will never be able to remove the grief that he has for her. The last line, “and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted—nevermore!” also shows that the narrator is accepting of his current, miserable state.

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