In his poems and stories, Edgar Allen Poe typically returns to the same themes: loneliness, lost love, madness, and depression. In his poem, “The Raven”, his theme is grief, which is also connected to the string of themes he generally incorporates into his works. Nevertheless, for this particular poem, Poe utilizes a plentiful quantity of literary devices to expand on his theme of sorrow and describe it in a manner that readers will be able to understand his feelings throughout this poem.
There are numerous literary devices like alliteration, different kinds of imagery, assonance, importance, metaphors, similes, and more. So in some reader’s viewpoint, Edgar Allen Poe utilizes the theme of sorrow to draw the reader’s interest in his poem, “The Raven”. Poe utilizes meaning, images, and repetition in his poem, “The Raven”.
Among the main literary gadgets that Poe uses in “The Raven” to establish the style of sorrow is importance. Poe highlights the ideas and inner sensations of the speaker.
The poem begins with the speaker sitting in what seems to be a library, considering over books of the past, when suddenly there is a knocking, and the speaker gets up to unlock. He tosses the door open and seeing no one there he returns to his books, when all of a sudden a raven appears through the window. The raven can be found in, its black plumes shining, and appears to be smiling as he enjoys the speaker intently. “Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nighttime coast -… on the Night’s plutonian shore!”
The speaker appears to feel, at the beginning, that the raven was sent from the Underworld.
This is represented through the words “Night’s Plutonian Shore”; it’s a connection in between this world and the Underworld with the River Styx. Pluto is the Roman name for the Greek god Hades, the god of death. When this is combined with “Night” it seems to recommend an even greater meaning. Throughout his poem, Poe is continuously using night, especially midnight, as a sign for death. The word “Coast” represents the huge river and all its strange inhabitants. This is precisely what the speaker is thinking. Then raven is a strange animal which has actually concerned the speaker as a messenger of death.
Poe incorporates imagery into “The Raven” in a way that gives the reader the ability to understand the grief and pain he feels. Poe not only elaborates on the setting of the story but he also goes into detail and brings out certain pictures and visions that give us clarity of the characters. The speaker begins the poem by introducing us to the setting of the story, “It was in the bleak December, and each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.” (Poe, Lines 6 & 7) This gives a stress on the time of year, the weather, as well as the fact that it’s late at night. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker says it’s about midnight, but Poe uses the fact that the fire is dying out to emphasize how long the speaker has been sitting pondering over the past.
“And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before” There are examples of imagery here that connect with each other. First is the visual imagery of the purple curtains, but then it goes on to talk about the terror that the speaker feels when those curtains rustle which is tactile imagery. It fills the speaker with a sort of thrill, a feeling of “fantastic terror.” Perhaps it might hint to the readers that the speaker focuses on every detail of the curtains because he’s trying to forget about the grief and pain he feels at the moment. When someone is in so much pain, they would do anything to not focus on it.
It can also be interpreted this way; it is a real thrill for us to be alive but sometimes we are too caught up in our problems that we forget that thrill. When we are scared or panicked, it fills us with a fear that reminds us that we are alive. It overpowers us and makes us feel alive and happy again. The speaker seems like a depressed man, someone who has had a loss at some point in his life, and he gets caught up in that. The appearance of the raven fills him with the terror that brings him back to reality, that he is alive and should live his life no matter how much the grief consumes him.
Another literary device that Edgar Allen Poe uses in his text to develop the theme of grief is repetition. Throughout the poem we hear the speaker repeat the words “nothing more” over and over again. It’s a constant repetition that can have different meanings. At some points throughout the poem, when the speaker says “nothing more,” it seems as if he expected something bigger to happen but was disappointed with the turn of events. This comes to show that maybe he was trying to convince himself that he wasn’t in pain from the grief, and that Lenore would show up on his doorstep any minute. That is how some people deal with grief.
They pretend to be happy and act as though everything is okay when really inside they’re hurting. The speaker seems to want to get over his grief but doesn’t know how because he keeps repeating Lenore’s name as if he doesn’t know what to do with it anymore. At other points in the poem it seem as though the speaker is still holding onto some spark of hope but is too scared to lose that hope. Therefore, he says its nothing, “only this and nothing more”. The speaker also keeps bring up someone named Lenore whom we can assume was someone he was extremely close to. Poe portrays this literary device in a way that helps a reader understand the speakers sorrow with more clarity and understanding.
An author usually incorporates literary devices into his novels, poems, etc…to help the readers understand the emotion he puts into it. Repetition, symbolism, and imagery are three very strong literary devices that make “The Raven” more emotional in the eyes of a reader. By adding symbolism, imagery, and repetition, we can feel the inner feelings of the character to a higher degree. With symbolism, we can connect certain words together to get a deeper meaning of the text and the character.
We gain more knowledge of the setting and occurrences with the constant imagery that is placed in Poe’s writing. The repetition throughout the story ties the theme of grief together. When something is repeated over and over again, it shows how important what is being repeated is to the speaker. By repeating certain lines, we get to see how the speaker is grieving over his past, and in a way, his future. It’s as if he is certain that the troubling occurrences in the past will affect his future in a bad way and perhaps that is what he is really grieving for.