symbolism in The Raven : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

I have a paper due and I am horrible with interpretation. I need help with the symbolism in the poem The Raven.

-- Anonymous, December 13, 1999


I don't know that much symbolism in the raven but there is the irony of the Raven sitting upon the greek God of Wisdom names Pallas... that gives out the message the the raven has wisdom! =o) I really can't think of anything else.

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2000

There are two ways to look at the raven. One being that he is symbolizing the devil and death, a glooming haunting image to bring back painful memories of his lost love. The other way is to see the raven as angelic because in stanza 10 he says : "Other friends have flown before; On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before." Quoth the Raven "Nevermore" This has been interpreted as the raven wanting to confort the mourning narrator... but this is not so obvious.

-- Anonymous, March 02, 2000

The raven was symbolic of his despair and gloom because his wife was really sick. The purpose of the poem is that Poe is trying to confirm his fears. He also stated that the raven brought him a message of despair and Poe finally realizes that he shall never be in peace because the raven stays.

-- Anonymous, April 07, 2000

I heard that ravens usually accompany an evil spirit or death itself. In fact, the presence of a raven is said to precede a death. Poe's raven might have been the evil accomplice to Lenore's death that has come back to make the narrator realize that she is gone and will not return.

-- Anonymous, April 07, 2000

I personally think that the Raven signifies despair, it is ironic that the raven sits upon the greek God of Wisdom named Pallas. This says to me that the Raven is despair coming to take over whatever truth to life there is.

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2000

I feel the purple velvet drapes (because described so specifically) are important. Purple often denotes royalty, in this case indicating the environment of the narrator being very plush. This adds contrast to the dispair personified by the raven. The bird sits upon the head of Pallas and continually recites the only word he knows (limite wisdom) which mocks the wisdom of Pallas and visually assumes hierarchy over wisdom. This symbolizes to me that all the wisdom of the universe will not save you from dispair or death, it comes relentlessly and stays.

-- Anonymous, August 28, 2000

I find it ironic that people interpret the raven as having wisdom when Poe has it represent his intellect and knowledge of difernt studies, such as greek mythology. To me the Raven symbolises the boatmen of the river Styx. In that he transports the spirit of Lenore across the river. I come to this by one simple qoute that the character says" be thy friend or foe go back to thy plutoninan shore" In greek mythology Pluto is the ruler of the under world. So there for the Raven symbolises the boatmen of the river Styx.

-- Anonymous, February 06, 2002

I believe the Raven represents the thought the Lenor is dead and will not be coming back. The Chamber is symbolic for his mind, the winds his eyes. When the windows were closed, he was at peace accept for a constant tapping at them. When he opened his window in flew a Raven and perched itself upon the bust of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. This statue obviously symbolizes the narrarators wisdom, which becomes clouded due to the sudden realization that his love will never return. Such strong feelings arise and the narrator is never able to make logical decisions again. This is suported by the last stanza which states the lamplight casts a shadow of the bird over his soul. The position of his soul on the floor represents his weak id. He has lost the will to live.

-- Anonymous, April 15, 2002

The Raven can signify many things. "Nevermore" will he forget his sick wife Lenore. With her being sick, he is scared of death and is tarified of loosing her. Siting and waiting for the raven to go away is a way of showing that his fear of death will not fly away. He will sit there and wait until death comes instead of doing somehting to get rid of the problem. Maybe just give up and face reality and realize that nothing can go away until you let it and are finished with it.

-- Anonymous, April 27, 2002

I found this it might help a little.


Poe chose Beauty to be the theme of the poem, since "Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem" (Poe, 1850). After choosing Beauty as the province, Poe considered sadness to be the highest manifestation of beauty. "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"

Symbols In this poem, one of the most famous American poems ever, Poe uses several symbols to take the poem to a higher level. The most obvious symbol is, of course, the raven itself. When Poe had decided to use a refrain that repeated the word "nevermore," he found that it would be most effective if he used a non-reasoning creature to utter the word. It would make little sense to use a human, since the human could reason to answer the questions (Poe, 1850). In "The Raven" it is important that the answers to the questions are already known, to illustrate the self-torture to which the narrator exposes himself. This way of interpreting signs that do not bear a real meaning, is "one of the most profound impulses of human nature" (Quinn, 1998:441).

Poe also considered a parrot as the bird instead of the raven; however, because of the melancholy tone, and the symbolism of ravens as birds of ill-omen, he found the raven more suitable for the mood in the poem (Poe, 1850). Quoth the Parrot, "Nevermore?"

Another obvious symbol is the bust of Pallas. Why did the raven decide to perch on the goddess of wisdom? One reason could be, because it would lead the narrator to believe that the raven spoke from wisdom, and was not just repeating its only "stock and store," and to signify the scholarship of the narrator. Another reason for using "Pallas" in the poem was, according to Poe himself, simply because of the "sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself" (Poe, 1850).

A less obvious symbol, might be the use of "midnight" in the first verse, and "December" in the second verse. Both midnight and December, symbolize an end of something, and also the anticipation of something new, a change, to happen. The midnight in December, might very well be New Year’s eve, a date most of us connect with change. This also seems to be what Viktor Rydberg believes when he is translating "The Raven" to Swedish, since he uses the phrase "årets sista natt var inne, " ("The last night of the year had arrived"). Kenneth Silverman connected the use of December with the death of Edgar’s mother (Silverman, 1992:241), who died in that month; whether this is true or not is, however, not significant to its meaning in the poem.

The chamber in which the narrator is positioned, is used to signify the loneliness of the man, and the sorrow he feels for the loss of Lenore. The room is richly furnished, and reminds the narrator of his lost love, which helps to create an effect of beauty in the poem. The tempest outside, is used to even more signify the isolation of this man, to show a sharp contrast between the calmness in the chamber and the tempestuous night.

The phrase "from out my heart," Poe claims, is used, in combination with the answer "Nevermore," to let the narrator realize that he should not try to seek a moral in what has been previously narrated (Poe, 1850).

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2002

it is setting the mood, so you know thwt this guy is rich

-- Anonymous, November 06, 2002

I believe that perhaps the raven signifies the way that one loses many things in their lives(i.e. Lenore) Constantly, people are losing things in their lives. Most of all Loved ones, basically the things that mean most to you. The term nevermore is used to show the way that time heals nothing and rips on the heart more and more

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2003


-- Anonymous, January 06, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ