“The agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.” That line may summarize the whole assemblage of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A writer from Massachusetts who became a notable of the American Romantic movement, and authored the poem-story, The Raven. While the narrator is reading loric stories with his lips quietly, he is interrupted by a subtle anonymous tapping.
The narrator just then witnesses a stately raven flying into his chamber sitting upon a bust of Athena. Then, he begins an odd conversation. When he inquires of his name, the raven responds with ‘nevermore’, the only word he will ever utter. Unsatisfied, the narrator continues then to inquire of the purpose of his visit. Frustrated with the bad-mannered raven, the narrator then outpours to the raven his feelings and tells him of the despair he has from the absence of his missing love, Lenore. He asks, quite plainly, if he will ever see her again. Again the raven does not satisfy him. Angered, the narrator smites the raven with harsh words and commands his leave, the raven ignores him.
The story ends with the raven quietly sitting upon the bust of Athena, just as the narrator comes to a realization of the raven’s mysterious words, ‘nevermore’. As this is a quite a brilliant piece of literature, it is important to possess an understanding of Romanticism, Edgar himself, and finally a subjective, then objective analysis of The Raven. As with a lot of words, the etymology of the word romance comes from greek. When Pythagoras used the word (ῥυθμός=hruthmos) to describe the act of counting, which he thought was just mysterious. His contemporaries, of course, thought he was romanticizing the simple rational things which Greeks simply knew as numbers. Fast forward about 2500 years and one arrives at the dawn of the Romantic movement.
The contemporary view on the movement was no better put than Longfellow, a man remembered as a father of the American Romantic movement, “The heart has a memory, it contains within it keepsakes which are the more precious than all”. As the modern man tries to understand the philosophy of the men of yonder days, he comes up with a rough summation of what ideas those men represented. He says Romanticism’s essential spirit was one of revolt against an established order of things-against precise rules, laws, dogmas, and formulas.
The Romantics were those not exactly enthusiastic about the changes of industrialization, viewed as a main cause—they particularly worried about individuals moving far from a connection with nature. A major effect of this emotional rebellion became a revival of the old to counter the new, neo-Gothicism emphasized the theme or presence of madness, insanity or other internal chaos, the supernatural in all of its forms, and haunted edifices. Without any gross generalizations or vulgar oversimplifications, it is quite simply put this way; the essentials are revolution, transcendence, imagination, extreme mental states and the supernatural. The era that Poe resided had some notable political upheaval and contemporary writers who affected him and were affected by him.
Popular opinion on slavery had been going negative since the ban on importing slaves and tension had been growing between the North and South, both places Poe called home: Baltimore and Boston. The antebellum era had a growing number of abolitionist movements that called for the end for slavery in emotional meetings with crying and yelling for justice in the streets. Tensions had also been growing on the border with the Americans in Texas rallying more and more settlers to keep the Mexicans out of the homeland, contributing to a new kind of emotion: nationalism. Now as for his contemporaries, one may appropriately call it a potpourri of different writers with different styles. Such when it comes to influences, Dickens usually was mentioned first by Poe in many writings, as having the foremost impact on him. As for the gravity of Poe’s influence, it was levied on none other than Arthur Conan Doyle who gave credit to Poe for almost all his writings. Now upon the negative, much of Poe’s disputes came with ironically enough, strict romantics like Ralph Waldo Emerson. Where Emerson called Poe a jingle man and referred to yours truly, The Raven, as an absurd piece of writing. Poe, of course, rebuked his conjecture, calling him a fake romantic, staying steadfast to his own brand of the duality that was Romanticism, great joy on one side and great grief and sorrow on the side he championed.
Poeś contemporaries had styles that came in agreement with his and conflicted with his, but all essentially wrote into their works the prevailing Romantic philosophies. Now, as for the man of the hour who entered the world on January 19, 1809, Edgar Allan Poe. To understand any of his writings or the purpose behind them, you must always seek to empathize with him by looking at his hard life. The poor fellow always was grieving at the loss of his dear ones. Early in his childhood, both his parents died and he was then adopted by Mr. and Mrs.John Allan from Richmond, Virginia. Not much time passed until another tempestuous event occured, the burning of Washington by the British, which sent shockwaves around the US. When Poe enrolled at the University of Virginia, friction began between him and John Allan. His step-father became a drunkard and gambled even more frequently and arguedas the price for Poe’s tuition kept increasing, he was later forced to dropout. Thus began the short, but amazing literary career of Edgar Allan Poe. Who started becoming attracted to the new Romantic movement just springing up in the United States. He wrote his first work in 1827, Tamerlane and Other Poems: Credited to a Bostonian. But such to no financial avail, as he continued in poverty, barely making ends meet. He later married Virginia Clemm, whom he described as the closest and most dearest person to him. But again. But alas, the winds of Heaven ordained the contrary to his poor soul, Virginia came down with tuberculosis in 1845 and doctors had given him anything but hope. Though sad, thus began his inspiration for, The Raven.
The Raven was a poetic story with a simple plot with an emphasis on one emotion. It begins quite right with the famous lines and a description of the setting, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” (Lines 1). The nightfall of course already sets an aura of mystery and the descriptions of his emotions signal one thing, despair. The narrator the hears a tap at his window, confused, he seeks to investigate. A “stately raven” suddenly flew in to his surprise. The narrator first inquires of his name, the raven consequently responds with ´nevermore.´ With a hint of hope, the narrator begins to ask if this mysterious raven was a divine messenger. First he inquired of a fine lady named Lenore, and if the raven knew anything of her whereabouts or possible return. And the raven continued his series of one word identical responses, “nevermore”. The narrator becomes baffled and impatient with the ravenś response. Almost as though he is coming to the realization that all hope is lost.
The final straw is when the narrator asks for the least amount of relief, a relief from the despair for Lenore and he is answered insufficiently by, nevermore. He throws every insult possible, accusing the bird of evil, an outpour of emotion commanding his leave. But nothing happens, as he says at the end of the trauma, ¨And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting/On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;(Lines 103/104). The last line is one of recognition, the end of the transition the raven mercilessly began from hope to end the despair to the realization by narrator that all will be lost, ¨And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/Shall be lifted—nevermore!¨(lines 107/108).
The Raven is a complete representation of romantic era philosophy and is a piece of literature that realizes the ideas on life and the human being. He uses an overbearing amount of imagery,¨Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December/And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor¨(lines 7-8). Where he describes the weather then goes on to describe even the subtlest and most minute of details, such as the miniscule embers that fall on the floor of his home. Sometimes over exaggerating as many romanticists sought to do. He used a meter to match the feeling he wanted his audience to bear, a trochaic. He uses strong language to carry his emotion over to the hypothetical raven and the audience, ¨’Prophet!’ said I, ‘thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!/Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,/Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted/On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore¨ (lines 85-88). Where is a burst of madness he scorns the bird to intimidate the fiend. Great anger followed by helplessness, such an extreme combination of extreme emotions the words themselves can cry tears. The constant emphasis on the emotions of the narrator embody the first and foremost pillar of romanticism, emphasis on the emotions rather than logic and proven fact. The ravenś disregard towards the flailing man is within the only one word he says so coldy, nevermore. The emphasis on the feelings of the helpless man come everytime he says anything about his pitiful state of being, ¨ Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,/It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore/Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.¨(lines 93-95). He despairs and hopes while ignoring the important fact that she will be gone, forever. But he is steadfast, why? Because he is a romantic, to him the facts of the matter do not matter.
The ravenś words to him do not matter, it is simply his wish, his romanticized view. Especially at the end when he comes to the realization that Lenore will be no more, it his emotions that convince him. The negative answers the raven kept giving him broke him down to the point where despair simply bulked itself quite hard and any hope was gone from his mind as he admitted. I can say without the shred of doubt, that Poe was such a dedicated romantic and this piece such a fine example, if Lenore came forth alive and well, the narrator’s grieving and emotional soul would deny him knowing the fact that she was back.