The Many Forms of Death; Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

The Many Forms of Death; Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

A Story by Erika Jones

This is my analysis on The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe I did last semester. I hope everyone enjoys it! I certainly enjoyed writing it :)


Edgar Allan Poe, a man who had lived life being rejected by many, lived life, according to an author named Rufus Griswold, as “… a drunken… madman” (Poe Museum, paragraph 18.) Poe’s “The Raven,” is a poem that focuses on body image through self-hate, grief, and substance abuse. Poe uses a raven�"a symbol of mystery, intelligence and beauty�"as its center point to tempt the man into using alcohol and drugs to free him from his pain until he dies right as he sees that the raven is actually Death in disguise.

When body image is presented in “The Raven” through self-hate and grief, it’s quickly noted that the man has been living like this for a while without remission. Working through the late hours of the night and, quite possibly, into the early morning hours without much rest in the opening lines, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary//Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore�"” (Lines 1-2.) And while Poe, who is a master at bringing forth both self-hate and grief in “The Raven” simultaneously, he brings forth both elements by having the man questioning what he wants with distaste while at the same time remembering why he’s in such a state when he writes, “Eagerly I wished the morrow;�"vainly I had sought to borrow//From my books surcease of sorrow�"sorrow for the lost Lenore�"//For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore�"” (9-11.) The problems for the man had begun shortly after he suddenly hears a tapping noise coming from somewhere, and upon checking the noise out�"thinking someone is there to see him at an ungodly hour�" he’s faced with an empty space as used in lines 23 and 24, “… �"here I opened wide the door;�"//Darkness there and nothing more” and is used as the beginning of the man’s decent into madness. Going further, the man feels like something, or someone could be standing there and watching him as written here, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,//Doubting, dreaming dreams…” (25-26) and it claims that the man wishes, and nearly believes, it to be his long lost love Lenore, “And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”//This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”�"” (28-29.)

Bringing body image further into the mix, Poe uses the Raven as not only a symbol of temptation for the man to guide him towards substance�"both drug and alcohol�"abuse but also as a symbol of mystery, intelligence, and beauty when the bird is introduced into the poem and makes him remember Lenore as the angel she represents in both life and death for the man. Like in the lines 43-44, Poe uses the bird’s majestic and calm, yet gravitating form as how he draws the man in when he has him pull up a hair in front of the bird and fix his whole attention on it. As the man sits, pondering over the Raven, and starts thinking that the bird belonged to someone for there is no other reason, logically, that the bird could talk so clearly the word “Nevermore” the way it is, as stated in every ending line after stanza 8. It’s only when the man continues to greedily drink and take in the bird’s presence when he’s suddenly aware of the air growing thicker, uncomfortable and stuffy that he suddenly hears footsteps falling from an unseen force that he realizes the bird could be more than what it seems. Claiming that the Raven is nothing more than a demon in disguise that’s come to tempt him into something he isn’t aware of yet. And as Poe states in line 83, “Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!” the man seems to be begging for the Raven to take from him his memories of Lenore so he can stop suffering. In the lines 86-88, Poe uses a peculiar wording to describe the man asking�"no, pleading�"the Raven if he could provide more ‘medicine’ as the man is believing the Raven is giving him, unbeknownst to him that he’s been brought forth and dragged down into madness and closer to death’s hold.

Just before the Raven reveals itself as Death�"the utmost negative and most feared form of body image by mankind for its uncertain destination, meaning, and interpretation�"when the man is then faced with what he believes is the bird lying to him about not having more medicine to take away his grief and sadness. Thus, when the bird replies, “… “Nevermore.” (89), the man tries to banish the bird from its perch upon his doorway, to take its hold off of him and leave him to continue grieving alone as he’s still remembering his love Lenore. Claiming in anger that the bird has broken all its promises in banishing those memories as the man believed the bird meant when replying with “…Nevermore” (90.) It isn’t until the man’s last words of banishment towards the Raven, that the bird reveals himself in a shadow of darkness that it truly is. Letting its shadow fall over the man as it claims his soul in his last breath when his madness comes to an end.

© 2016 Erika Jones

My Review

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Firstly, I have never written anything by Edgar Allen Poe, but what I will say is that piece is so well written. It is so well structured and extremly well written. Your grammar skills are exceptional and by the way you have written this I can tell you have a passion for 'The Raven'
Its not normally my type of read, but I read it because it was wonderful to see such a talent of word craft.
I know it's not much of review, but I really am impressed at your skill as a writer.

Posted 5 Years Ago

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Added on July 10, 2016
Last Updated on July 10, 2016


Erika Jones
Erika Jones

Medway, OH

I'm Erika and I'm a 25 year old Author. I've self-published a small poem book called "Screams of the Outcast" a couple years ago and slowly selling. Not only do I like poetry, I love writing novels an.. more..

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