Essay about Lost Lenore

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Introduction

The perusal of poetry permits one to investigate the ideas and emotions of another person and to see their stowed away, suppressed sentiments in a unique, creative instance.

The numerous, picturesque emotional perspective of grief is profoundly accentuated through my chosen poems The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden. Good afternoon, teacher and school peers, today I will stress the idiosyncratic distinctions between viewpoints of grief, how the context of their era and personal situation create different ideals surrounding grief, and finally, what poetic techniques are utilized to communicate their perspectives through my two presented poems.

Key message and theme context

The Raven composed by Edgar Allan Poe and published in 1845 explores a man who is shattered over the recent demise of his beloved Lenore, once he passes a forlorn December night in his room, he hears a tapping sound on his door then the window, he’s worried, consoling himself that it is just the breeze before opening the window to a raven, it roosts on a bust of Athena and the narrator proceeds to converse with it. The Raven repetitively responds with nevermore, and sadly that is the last answer the narrator desires by the end of the poem the narrator has seemed to lose his mind, succumbing to the sorrow of losing his lost love Lenore and knowing that she will return ‘nevermore’. The message that is focused on within the poem describes how grief can lead to mental instability and how it is commonly in stages. This is contrasted with grief as an isolating power which will be discussed further through Funeral Blues.

The first stage of grief, denial at the beginning of the poem as seen in stanza 4 when hearing the knocking of the door, ‘And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, Lenore?’ also hearing ‘an echo murmured back the word, Lenore!” Merely this, and nothing more.”. – line 29 The speaker is present in the stage of deep denial, though Lenore is dead he is still optimistic of the arrival of his close relation at his door. He denies the fact that it is impossible for Lenore to be alive however he is shrouded in a fog of denial. This is universally recognized as a common mental side effect of grief. Additionally, his denial of grief is further exemplified when he tries to justify the constant tapping and rapping at his door, “Surely,” said I “Surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore (line 33-34).” This highlights how the speaker is hopelessly trying to prove to himself that the sound is real and that he isn’t going mad over his grief for Lenore. Although denial is a side effect, Poe maintains the idea that grief is mentally unstable due to the speaker’s optimism and insistence on Lenore’s health suggesting that he is in fact descending into the realms of insanity due to the grief he feels.

Next, he enters the stage of anger which is predominantly explored through stanzas 14, 15, and 17. He explodes in anger as “Wretch,” I cried, ‘thy God hath lent thee-by these angels he hath sent thee Respite-respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore; Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!” (Lines 81 – 83). The narrator is confronted with the fact that Lenore is deceased which is proved through the raven’s repetition of ‘Nevermore’ and bursts out in anger but not necessarily at the bird but rather the grief he feels knowing that his worst feelings are confirmed although he had tried immensely not to give in. This is further explored through his cursing of the bird as an embodiment of evil. “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us-by that God we both adore. (91-92). The speaker has decided the raven is an evil being and suggests that he is becoming increasingly angrier at its presence and how it confirms his grief for Lenore. It also shows how he is further trying to create an excuse for his madness indicating his unravelling mentality.

Finally, the narrator’s anger is amplified as he finds out that he will never reach peace over his grief which further intensified his negative mental state. He spoke loudly “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting” Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave my loneliness unbroken !-quit the bust above my door! (Line 97-100). The speaker has entered a fit of rage and frustration as he realizes the Raven is telling the truth and he will never be able to see Lenore again. This rage narrows to an important point which signifies his loneliness and grief away from Lenore which forced him into mental insanity. He says that he feels extremely lonely and that the raven milked this idea and caused hysteria in bursts of violent anger. These quotes corroborate that the raven is a figment of his imagination as it speaks of his darkest thoughts only he should know which provides a tangible representation of his impending insanity due to the grief he feels for Lenore. Furthermore, the narrator’s grief brings him to his next step of mental insanity; depression. He understands he has lost Lenore and grieves over it, feeling as if his ‘soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted……nevermore!”. -lines 108 to 109. The narrator has lost the mental battle started by grief and succumbs to his pain, sadness, and craze knowing that deep down the raven was always correct and he wouldn’t be able to ‘redeem’ himself. Moreover, this quotation highlights the final point of grief; acceptance, and validates the message of grief leading to mental insanity, The man accepts the reality that he will never be free from his grief and that the raven is right. The actuality of his state corresponds in two ways. First, he finally accepts the death of his loved one with grief. Secondly, the narrator accepts the loss of his sanity through his giving up due to his grief.

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Through the quotes mentioned, the fruitful birth of the narrator's downward spiral to insanity through the end of the mental battle against the Raven created through his grief is explored.

Conclusively, the message of grief leading to mental instability is corroborated through interactions of the raven and stages of grief in the use of quotations.

Historical context

During the time period Poe wrote ‘The Raven’, there was a rampage of diseases, death, and sickness and families often suffered large mortality rates. This surged intense bereavement and grief across the country, and when discussed in the ‘Raven’ may be perceived as justified and as normality. Furthermore, the medical perspective of mental health conditions was at an all-time low, thus the grief caused by death was perceived as largely factored in mental health conditions and so Poe would’ve been influenced by these ideas present in the public.

This poem was specifically intended for an audience that suffered great loss as they would be able to relate to the perspective and message of grief in the poem.

Music in the 1800s mostly comprised classical, soft, and jazz music and was utilized in this poem through alliteration.

Personal context

The personal and social context of the poem during 1845 and Poe’s personal life changed his perspective of grief in contrast to W.H. Auden. Poe was born in a middle-class family in Massachusetts, on the 19th of January 1809. He went through many circumstances of never-ending grief with his father leaving at three and his mother dying of tuberculosis and was raised by his foster parents John and Frances Allan. He struggled with his mental state further when he was forced to leave his university due to his gambling addiction and debt. He joined a military academy only to receive more gambling debt and get expelled for truancy. This highlights his negative mentality which was further fuelled by the grief he had for his biological parents and his own position in life. Poe starts to further lose grip on his sanity as his wife Virginia died of tuberculosis, leading him into becoming a depressed, borderline insane extreme alcoholic who often took it upon himself to fight other poets. Moreover, his mental state was again fractured as his foster mother and his former cousin died of tuberculosis and his foster father fell out with him due to his insubordination. These factors led to further grief which altered his mental state into hysteria and is defined as a personal context that influenced his perspective of grief in The Raven.

His poem regarding grief was also determined by his own personal belief that ‘the most poetical topic in the world’ was ‘the death….of a beautiful woman,’ which allows the viewer to understand that he chose to develop the narrator’s madness surrounding the death of a beautiful woman; Lenore.

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Essay about Lost Lenore. (2023, August 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-lost-lenore/
“Essay about Lost Lenore.” Edubirdie, 17 Aug. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-lost-lenore/
Essay about Lost Lenore. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-lost-lenore/> [Accessed 23 Apr. 2024].
Essay about Lost Lenore [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Aug 17 [cited 2024 Apr 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-lost-lenore/
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