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The Raven and Poe's Real Life

The life experiences of Edgar Allan Poe shaped his works as deeply as those of any other artist of his stature. In Poe's case, the author experienced a significant number of deaths of family members and loved ones, from leaving him an orphan to witnessing the death of his beloved wife. As Lindsay (1953) explains, "Always haunting him was the thought of the death of his mother, then of the death of women he loved, then of the death of his foster-mother, and finally his wife" (p. 11). The themes of death and the spirit world as a malevolent force are evident in many of Poe's stories and poems. Braddy (1973) explains that Poe creates "ghostly poems" that exhibit the death, near-madness, and indifferent world that were part of Poe's existence (p. 5). This analysis will explore the themes of death and the spirit world as they are conveyed in one of Poe's most haunting and famous poems, The Raven. A conclusion will address what might have driven Poe to focus on these kinds of dark themes obsessively in his career.

Poe's haunting by death, his belief in malevolent forces in the spirit world, and his use of hallucinogenic substances are all expressed in the setting, tone, and character of The Raven. The poem is eighteen stanzas long, and Poe (2008) sets the tone of loneliness and despair in the first stanza that depicts the old and alone, half-asleep narrator, "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--/ While I nodded, nearly napping" (p. 1). Poe uses distinct language choices to help set this lonely and dreary setting in which an old man becomes grim over a malevolent omen of death. In the next stanza he tells us it is winter, a "bleak" December, while he uses "ghost" to describe what the burning embers leave behind upon the floor (Poe, 2008, p. 1).

Poe's creation of a ghostly and bleak atmosphere reinforce his experiences...

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The Raven and Poe's Real Life. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:04, May 24, 2020, from