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An Analysis of Poe's Melancholy in the Raven

  • Date Submitted: 05/10/2010 07:33 PM
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An Analysis of Poe’s Theme of Melancholy in The Raven
By Taylor Isbell (Period 5)
Personal tragedy, unfortunately, was a recurring theme in Edgar Allan Poe’s life.   Marred by alcoholism, abuse, depression, and rejection by the world around him, Poe created a whole state of mind, for which he is extremely well-known, based on the harsh situations that he experienced.   This state of mind is one of gloominess and depression, and is a major theme in his poetry and other works.   Poe utilized this theme of “melancholy” in order to portray his ominous perspective of life to the audience, and it is illustrated in one of his most famous poems: The Raven.
To understand Poe’s intention of creating melancholy, one should look to Poe’s well-recognized article titled The Philosophy of Composition, in which he thoroughly analyzes The Raven.   When discussing the tone used, he says, “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.” (Poe, p.3) With this line, Poe is arguing that melancholy is the most logical tone to apply to this specific poem because it clearly articulates the beauty of this poem.   One particular way he created this tone was through the connotation of his words.   The antagonist of The Raven is mourning the loss of his love, Lenore; thus, he is split between the desire to remember and the desire to forget.   Poe cleverly words this poem, though, in order to emphasize the fact that this character will never again see his love. The essential, most evident word in the entire poem is the word “nevermore,” which is repeated in the last line of the last eleven stanzas in the poem.   Poe explains:
The sound of the refrain being thus determined, it became necessary to select a word embodying this sound, and at the same time in the fullest possible keeping with that
melancholy which I had predetermined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it would...


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