The Critical Analysis of Symbolism in Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

Categories: The Raven

“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is written by an author whose writing style can give the reader a detailed image in his or her mind. In this text the author uses multiple writing techniques that amplify his poems to the next level. Poe’s Poems stand out compared to other stories I have read. In “The Raven” Poe describes the characters as ominous, creative, mystical and dark. The setting and language has far surpassed gothic levels. Poe’s writing style is unique and his descriptions are very clever and clear.

In this text Poe uses the phrase “Nevermore” at the end of each stanza amplifying each moment the raven speaks, when the reader reads this repeatedly it adds a more dramatic affect to the poem. By using this writing style Poe is able to intensify each stanza with one word, “Nevermore”. While using this repetitive writing style he is also able to use very descriptive words to increase the readers imagery.

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Poe claims to have purposely selected each refrain “Nevermore”, Poe says “ After considering his need for a single, easily remembered word that would allow him to vary the variations of it, as the closing word for each stanza.” When using this refrain repeatedly it causes the tension to intensify and bring a dramatic feeling to each stanza. Poe’s poem opens up with “Once upon a midnight dreary…” by doing so he already is letting us know the dark and dull setting. The raven can be argued to possibly be a figment of the narrator's imagination, over the distraught death of Lenore.

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In the first stanza the narrator claims to be “weak and weary”. He is almost sleeping when he hears a tapping at the chamber door, which could be a sound that he has heard in a previous dream, not an actual tapping sound at the door. He is scared of being alone in the chamber, where the poem takes place. The raven is symbolical, it symbolizes the narrator's torture that he inflicts upon himself due to the death of Lenore, “rare and radiant maiden, nameless here forevermore”. When the narrator speaks to the raven, the raven only answers with “nevermore” this tortures the narrator even more.

Like all stories there's always something symbolical, either it be a person a place or even a thing. In the book “The Great Gatsby” the main character Nick is a Veteran of WWI who finds himself trapped in a world like nothing he has seen before, being on the battlefield for so long can change a man. Although he is a Veteran and is always prepared for battle he was not ready for this battle, so called “Life”. He lives in a city that is separated by a body of water, one side the rich and the other the poor, Nick is continuously moving from the West to the East not sure of what he is doing. This is similar to “The raven” because The narrator in “The Great Gatsby” (Nick) is confused and scared for his life, in “The Raven” the narrator feels the same way and is also trying to live his life, but without the love of his life, Lenore.

“The Raven” and “The Great Gatsby” are two completely different stories. These two stories are both very different, one is a poem and the other a short book, the authors are completely different as well as the writing style but they do share something in common and that’s a story outline, both stories have characters, setting, conflict, and a conclusion. Something that all stories are required to have in order for it to be a story/poem. For example this six word poem has a story “ I promise it wasn’t me babe “, in this poem you have a character and you have a setting or an image of what’s happening. You can clearly tell that it is a couple talking about a conflict that happened, although there is no certain conclusion, there is a conclusion. Therefore these two completely different stories are similar in a way.

“The Raven” has its own uniqueness because it’s able to make you feel a certain way without actually physically putting you in the situation. It also tends to send off this very gloomy or dark vibe, given the setting in a dark chamber. In the poem there is a line that says “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before”. The way this is written is unique, the narrator is talking in perspective of himself as well as being completely un-modest, portraying a very compelling and complex character.

In “The Great Gatsby” the narrator Nick is portrayed as a soft but important character in the book. He is important because of the person he is towards other people and himself. Although Nick is usually not in the middle of things he is still the anchor in the story. In “The Raven” the narrator is not the anchor of the story but the Raven itself is.

The Raven is symbolized as the never forgotten pain of his lost love. It also symbolizes the torture he puts himself through because of what happened to the love his life. In this poem it does not clearly clarify what happens to the narrator's wife although it gives the reader a figment if their own imagination letting the reader make up their own input on what happens to the long lost love, Lenore.

In “The Raven” Poe likes to leave a dramatic cliffhanger affect to the reader, and is able to do so by using a easily remembered phrase “Nevermore”. In Poe’s poem he uses vocabulary such as bleak, entreat, implore, beguile and many other unique words showing us that the author is smart and uses well thought out words to give his poem that extra emphasis. In “The Raven” Poe uses very complex literature and vocabulary that makes the reader think and pause when reading the poem, by doing that it also gives us time to look back or read back on the previous line giving it more clarity and more of a feeling. Poe is one of the many few poets that are able to draw out the feelings in words and the feelings inside you and combine them both into a realistic feeling. This can all be opinion based or solemnly just my opinion but by doing research and thoroughly reading over each of these I can tell you it is not.

From reading both of these stories I have come to the conclusion that “The Raven” and “The Great Gatsby” are similar. I have also come to the conclusion that the poem “The Raven” is more unique and detailed than “The Great Gatsby”. With “The Great Gatsby” I believe that it is a good book, but with all those chapters the author made I believe Edgar Allan Poe could have made a better story in just a few stanza.

Works cited

  1. Poe, E. A. (1845). The Raven. The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art, and Science, 1(5), 389-394.
  2. Kennedy, J. G. (1999). The Raven and the Whale: The War of Words and Wits in the Era of Poe and Melville. American Literature, 71(3), 491-519.
  3. Tresch, J. (2008). Technological Superstition: Poe's 'The Raven' in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Modern Language Quarterly, 69(3), 359-384.
  4. Meyers, J. M. (1992). Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press.
  5. Peeples, S. (1998). The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe. Boydell & Brewer.
  6. Kopley, R. (2001). Poe's Dark Genius: The Unknown 19th-Century Origins of Modern Horror. University of Georgia Press.
  7. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2003). Edgar Allan Poe. Bloom's Literary Criticism.
  8. Quinn, A. H. (1998). Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. JHU Press.
  9. Walker, W. S. (2011). Edgar Allan Poe and the Gothic Tradition. McFarland.
  10. Silverman, K. (1992). Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance. HarperCollins.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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The Critical Analysis of Symbolism in Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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