meaning of the raventhe raven : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

What is the true meaning behind the poem The Raven ? Thanks

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2004


Poe didn't tell us the true meaning. He only gave us the poem. If he wanted to give us only the true meaning, he could have saved himself many hours of work and several pages of printed lines.

al-Jabazz-Jabarr, the exalted mullah emeritus, once confided that the true meaning of this crusader dog's poem was "there is no life after death, death being what it is."

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2004

The meaning behind the Raven is not fully known. On some cases, it is a memorial for the lost Lenore (who could have been a woman he loved in his life; as almost all the women he loved did die, it makes sense). On others, it is showing that grief is a process. To another extent, it shows a darker side of humanity. Those who are not in control can go insane. The raven refused to leave the bust of Pallas... driving the man insane. He wanted to grieve alone, but "nevermore" will he be alone to grieve. He couldn't rid himself of the company, he couldn't control the situation. In some ways, the raven can be Lenore's spirit, the spirit of evil or Providence.

The key thing to remember in all literature is this: unless the author is around, there is no way of knowing what the true meaning of anything is. You'd have to look at the author's society (of that time), his/her life (and what exactly was happening) and then even factor in what the inspiration was to create the poem. Here's the bottom line: you can read this however you want, and your probably right. No one knows, which means there is no right or wrong answer. It's just guessing the possibility.

-- Anonymous, October 06, 2004

I'm not sure I agree that Poe "Only gave us the poem" - he also gave us "The Philosophy of Composition" (the infamous essay where Poe expounded his theories on the "most poetical topic" and his own method of composing verse, specifically this piece); and his other poem "Lenore" (not necessarily the same Lenore, but still an analytical appendix that could be of use). These should be used with caution of course because as Lawrence (who wrote an essay on Poe) said "Trust the tale, not the teller", and as Barthes said "L'auteur est morte." The poem derives its sense of fevered excitement from its use of line-rhyme and lack of enjambment, and we're encouraged to always have the "lost Lenore" in our own minds because so many of the rhymes involve her name. She is everywhere within the poem - in the l(en)ore which the narrator is reading; in his "imp(lore)" (and we know that in Poe imps are perverse). Other rhymes suggest a sense of existential timelessness - "before" and "yore"; "explore" and "more". The narrator is trapped in a limbo from which he can find no escape, not in solitude (he's denied it), not in books (they remind him), and not in death (he might have matter nor mind of Lenore there, or even the possibility of dying). The image of the raven is a pertinent one - we remember that Apollo smote the originally white raven black for being a gossip (he told him of infidelity), and the bird is punishment incarnate but also a symbol of guilt, and the constant target of others' projected masochism. What has the narrator done? We might learn a nasty little secret from where the raven decides to settle - the bust of Pallas. In some versions he was the husband of Styx, and thus a link to Hades (and Pluto is alluded to in the poem also) - the raven has come to cause the narrtor Hell. But wait... There is another, nastier version of a myth including him. He attempts to rape his daughter Aphrodite, who kills him and creates the Aeigis from his flayed flesh. What has the narrator done? Let us remember the time - midnight in December. Symbols of the End, symbols of guilt, symbols of death and symbols of rape. What has the narrator done?

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2004

the meanin of the raven is in the eyes of the reader. poe wants you to find your own meaning to it and see it your way. i see the raven as death seeking him and his love out and all he wants is for it to leave him be. hence the statement "nevermore." poe wants you to see death as an end to the suffering but all he wants is time with his beloved.

-- Anonymous, October 07, 2004

The true meaning of the Raven was never known, as the others have metioned, but I am certain if one searches enough and puts two and two together, one can figure out this complex poem by the master of horror.

-- Anonymous, October 12, 2004

Just a little thought from a paper I am writing on the subject:

The symbolism of Ravens as birds of ill omen, while suiting this Poem, the belief that the Raven oftentimes depicts things we really prefer not to hear, is much more relevant. Another symbolism the Raven also sits atop of the “pallid bust of Pallas”, the goddess of wisdom, would seem to depict that the Raven’s “nevermore” statement had greater meaning. Throughout the Poem, the Raven, repeatedly states “nevermore” to inquires, by the narrator, drawing the listeners closer to the true meaning of the Raven visit. Since the symbolic Raven and bust of Pallas preside over the door, the entrance and exit to the narrator's "chamber" or residence, the narrator has no escape from the situation, However, the Narrator, at any time, could freely walk through the door and leave the Raven, the narrator’s own grief and sorrow prevent the narrator from leaving.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2004

the meaning of the raven is open to interpretation which is what makes it so a hundred years it will still be being discussed and disected by society. Poe did write an essay about why he wrote the poem and his methods of composition which detract from the aura of mysticism that surrounds both the narrator and the raven itself. one interesting fact about the raven and the fact that it sits on the head of the bust of pallas is that pallas was the greek god of wisdom born from the head of jupiter...jupiter in turn used birds to communicate the future to seers who knew how. as the raven is a bird and the narrator a student, we can assume that the narrator's character takes these omens in superstitious fasion to interpret the raven's word "nevermore" to be the message(s) of the gods and thus have more impact on his own demeanor and terrified state.

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2004

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