Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is one of the most significant writers in the American history. Well known for its mystery and horror stories he is considered part of the Romantic movement in US and the inventor of detective fiction genre. On January 29, 1845 he publishes his poem “The Raven” in the “Evening Mirror” which granted him with immense fame (“Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography” 1941).
The editor of the publishing newspaper wrote: It is the most effective single example of “fugitive poetry” ever published in this country; and unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent, sustaining of imaginative lift and “pokerishness. ” It is one of these “dainties bred in a book” which we feedon. It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it(“Evening Mirror”, New York, January 29, 1845). The poem is of great artistic merit, it exudes many emotions and arise many feelings.
Every reading of the poem gives new experience and new feelings but when You got familiar with Poe’s life a inevitable question is arising. Putting together “The raven” and Poe’s life we can see that the place where the poem is written corresponds to the room where the action of the story is held in addition the raven represents Poe’s inner self, furthermore for the image of the narrator Poe uses for prototype himself and all these lead to the conclusion that “The Raven” is Poe’s own view about his fate.
The correspondence between the time and the settings of the poem and the time and conditions it was written supports the idea of coherence between the story of the poem and the prediction for the future that lies before the author. “The Raven” was published in January 29, 1845, according to “The New York Times” at that time Poe and his wife Virginia lived at a farm house in New York. In 1844 the farm house was away from the city. Poe’s home stood on a rocky and commanding eminence a few hundred feet of 84 Street and St. Nicholas Boulevard, at that time Manhattan was a country north of Greenwich Village otted with tiny hamlets(“The New York Times” January 1, 1908).
This distant and isolated house was his sanctuary giving him solitude from the world outside. We can see quite the same at the opening of the poem with depiction of the room. The room is closed claustrophobic place – well furnished with lots of books and heavy curtains which give a sense of isolation ” And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain ” (line 13) “Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door” (line 68) “Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking ” (line 69).
Isolation and solitude is was the narrator is seeking in order to “surcease” the inner pain and sorrow. What is more the time of the action in the poem and the time of its writing is the same – winter. The poem was published in January 29 and the process of the writing can take us a month back in December. December is the time in which the action in the poem is held.
The view from Poe’s distant house away from the city during the winter is only bare uplands which co-responds to the description he gave “bleak December” at the beginning of the second stanza ” Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December” (line 7). In a nutshell the place, in which he lived at the time of the writing of “The Raven”, resembles the place in which the action takes place. Another evident in favor of the statement that the poem corresponds exactly to the view about Poe’s fate is the fact that he uses himself for prototype of the protagonist in the poem.
The narrator possess many books which refers that he is well educated and intelligent as Poe himself. The protagonist is suffering from great inner pain and sorrow and vainly hoping for a cure “Is there—is there balm in Gilead? —tell me—tell me, I implore! (line 89)” as does Poe – at the time, according to Arthur Quinn , in which the poem was published his great love Virginia had been sick from Tubercolosis for three years, her death is inevitable and Poe is aware of it (“Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography” 1941).
Another confirmation is the fact that the narrator is using the books for distraction from the painful reality which Poe had been doing for a long time “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore (lines 1- 2)”. In brief the narrator is a mirror image of Edgar Allan Poe. The fact that “The Raven” represents Poe’s inner personality confirms the statement that the poem is Poe foresight about his fate. We can see the manner in which Poe rites “The Raven” with capital “R” which tells us that it is not any raven. Well known for his macabre stories full with horror, this ebony bird is his black soul, his sinister mind.
His talk with the bird asking if he will be or will be not again reunited with his beloved Lenore in the after life is a symbol of his inner doubts and desires “Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn (line 93)” “It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore— (line 94)” “Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore. line 95)”. Another confirmation is the conversation with the bird in which he is begging for “nepenthe” to release him from sorrow but his request is not fulfilled which represents Poe’s inner inability to free himself from the pain “Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore; (line 82)” “Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore! (line 83)” “Quoth the Raven “Nevermore. ”(line 84)”
An additional element leading to the conclusion that the “ominous bird” is a personification of Poe’s inner self is the way how he writes “Hope” and “Hopes” – with capital “H”, referring both to the bird and to the narrator “On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before. (line 59)/ Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore (line 65)”. In other word the raven is a representation of Poe’s inner self. To cut a long story short the poem “The Raven” is Poe’s view about his own fait.
In “The Raven” the action is held in a place which resembles the house that Poe and his wife Virginia inhabited, also in the story Poe gives life to his dark inner self trough the image of the raven, who took the life of the narrator which prototype is Poe himself. Though the cause of Poe’s death is unclear, according to Jeffrey Meyers and Charles scriber, Poe had died from Delirium Tremens – alcohol poisoning (“Edgar Allan Poe” Jeffrey Meyers, Charles Scriber, 1992) – responsible for which is Poe himself or in particular his inner inability to resist the need of alcohol. In other words the foresight had been fulfilled.