Dark Symbolism In Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

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Throughout history, people have used expressed any ideas or concepts through the use of symbols so that other people can perceive the same idea. In the case of literature, symbols turn into words and text that suggest meaning when repeated throughout a literary piece. For American poet Edgar Allan Poe, his dark and dire symbols reside within The Raven and suggest multiple meanings. Poe’s poem tells the story of a lonely, unnamed narrator who mourns for the death of a woman named Lenore. The man then encounters a strange black raven that only speaks the word “Nevermore” and noticeably makes the protagonist descend into madness from his grief over the loss of Lenore. Poe’s romantic literary piece conveys dark symbolism that portrays thematic …show more content…
Although the poem vaguely hints and describes where it takes place, the first few stanzas describe the time, place and atmosphere of the poem. The introductory lines portray the time as it being: “Once upon a midnight dreary,” also adding the state of the speaker “while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore” (1-2). Followed later in the second stanza by the season in which the story takes place: “Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,” (7). These ideas shape the atmosphere and setting in the poem. In literature, winter is a motif that signifies or suggests death, stillness, sadness and similar associated ideas. The atmosphere in The Raven is brimming with melancholy brought upon by the wintery season, set sometime during the middle of the night in which the dark and unknown reside. The speaker rests in what can be assumed to be his house study where he held a “Volume of forgotten lore” (2). These items suggest a depressing state and it foreshadows how the mood will be kept throughout the rest of the poem, as well as the next recurring symbol in the poem, …show more content…
In the famous line when the narrator asks the raven for its name, he says: “Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian Shore!”(47). The narrator makes an allusion the Pluto, also known as Hades in Greek mythology, who is the God of the underworld or hell. This line implies that the bird arrived from such a wretched place as the underworld that night. Night is often also a symbol in literature, and according to the Dictionary of Literary Symbols, night is “the time of unseen dangers… ghosts, magic, and moonstruck madness, as well as the pursuit of love or anything else restrained by daylight” (Night). This definition truly fits the exact same night in which The Raven takes place, where the narrator refers to the ghost of Lenore, the mysterious raven, and also goes mad at the end. Pluto and the Night symbolize hell and partly the danger of the night in the narrator ultimately turns insane because of the arrival the greatest symbol in the poem, the raven

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