The effect of a poet's life upon his poetry is always an important issue. One of the reasons "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe is so frequently used as an example of this is that the poem itself so clearly shows the influence of Poe's private life upon his thinking.
To understand the influence of Poe's private life on "The Raven," it is necessary to know that Poe "married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clem. She died eleven years later." Although it is well known that Poe wrote the poem "Annabel Lee" about his beloved lost bride, the influence of her loss upon his thinking can also be clearly seen in "The Raven." And yet, "The Raven" has such an intense sense of loss that even the loss of his beloved bride doesn't seem quite enough to account for it. Reading further into Poe's life, one can find additional reasons for the hopelessness and loneliness of "The Raven."
When Poe was a very young child, he was orphaned and was raised by a man who, while giving him a good home, did not choose to adopt him. To have lost both of one's parents at a very young age, and then to be taken into a home where one's welcomeness is always doubted, since the child has never been adopted, one understands better the sense of lost chances in "The Raven." For Poe had lost each of the essential personal relationships in life prior to his writing it (mother, father, wife). So if in "The Raven" as in much of his other work, Poe seems obsessed with death, this is not unnatural in a man who had seen and come so close to death so often in his life.
In the poem "The Raven," when the individual who is speaking at last realizes the finality and the full impact of the raven's repeated "nevermores," the individual speaking has become almost paralyzed into inactivity. The man is left underneath the intimating gaze of the raven and seems no longer to control his own destiny.
This again is very much a reflection of Poe's own life, for as has been observ...