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Poe and The Raven

In the confines of the 108 carefully composed lines of "The Raven," Edgar Allen Poe powerfully affects his reader. In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe discusses the process of writing "The Raven." Reading these works gives the reader an idea of the complexity of the poem. The impact of "The Raven" is derived from Poe's careful calculation of each aspect of the poem. He leaves nothing in question, using each element, from word choice to tone, to create the poem's lasting effect. While reading the "Philosophy of Composition," the reader loses the emotion of "The Raven," but when the reader goes back to the poem, the technical insight makes the poem ultimately more effective.

"While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping" (Poe, "The Raven" 1331). The feelings Poe provokes with this line are curiosity and fear. In the two lines preceding, Poe has established the setting as a bleak night in which an exhausted student is poring over books of a mystical nature. The sudden "tapping" frightens the student, prompting him to reassure himself that it is nothing more than a visitor at his door. The reader is also startled by the ominous noise. In the first stanza of the poem, Poe plays on the instinctual fear people have of the night and, more specifically, of unexplained noises which emerge from the night. Poe insists in "The Philosophy of Composition" that effect is the key intention of a written work, and in "The Raven" the effect is achieved by the tone.

By creating a familiar atmosphere pervaded by eerie uncertainty, Poe instantly manipulates the reader into the mood of the poem. With the capture of his reader, Poe then presents the two remaining elements of the tone - melancholy and solitude. The dead lover, Lenore, is the source of the student's deep sorrow and loneliness. The student's solitude and sadness is implied repeatedly throughout the poem, as in the fourth stanza when he repeats Lenore's n...

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Poe and The Raven. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:57, May 24, 2020, from