Wide Reading – The Raven

The Raven is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, it tells the story of a mysterious visit of a talking raven to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness. Gothic tones and moods are very well established in the book along with features that almost every gothic protagonist hold. The narrators past comes back to haunt him along with presence of the supernatural. 

The man is grieving from the loss of his love Lenore, sitting alone ‘weak and weary’ on a dark cold December night. Sitting alone in his house trying to read, he is quite tired, and as he is just about to fall asleep he hears a quite knock on his chamber door. He choses not to answer the door, “Tis the wind and nothing more.” he states. After the second tap at the door he says that terror filled him like never before and he repeats to himself that there is no one there, trying to convince himself not to be frightened. The man is trying to ignore what he is hearing, but as curiosity and fear overwhelm him he eventually opens up the door speaking ‘Lenore?’ into the darkness. From this part of the short story told, I am convinced that the man is frightened about whats out there because of his past events, the passing of Lenore. Most common gothic protagonists are usually effected by there past in some way.

Then he hears a tapping at the window, when I read this my heart rate jumps up slightly. We know that there was nothing at the door so readers become on edge wondering who it could be. Once opening the window a raven files into he room, perching on the pallas above the chamber door. When the narrator asks the bird questions he answers with one word only ‘Nevermore’, the man tries to understand what the bird means by this but comes to no conclusion. He then mutters to him self “Other friends have flown before. On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.” To then the bird then answers ‘Nevermore’. Whenever the man asks the bird a question he only answers with one word, the raven seems to distress the protagonist with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The man continuously asks the raven questions even though he knows what the answer is going to be, this just winds the man up making him very irritated. If he just left the bird alone in the beginning he may have flown out on his own which would have saved a lot of hassle for the man. 

Then the narrator states that the air has become dense and perfumed, reminding him of Lenore. Saying that the god had sent down angels to maybe relieve his sorrow, but the bird answers again with nevermore.
This part in the story shows a small presence of the supernatural as the man is drawn to linking the air to the the gods and heaven. Most gothic texts have a presence of the supernatural shown which makes the reader a bit scared and on edge as we cannot relate to the situations. The narrator goes on to say “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Saying this makes me feel mixed emotions about the man as he is going of at the raven, he seems to be very upset about the whole situation just showing me that he is become crazy.

The narrator finally gives up speaking with the bird after his hopes of seeing Lenore again are crushed, he says that the bird remains perched above his chamber door and he will forever live in his shadow. At the beginning of the book we are told the man is falling asleep before the knock on the door which makes it unclear if the narrator is dreaming though out the text. If he was dreaming all of the things about the raven and his lost love it would make more scene to the reader because we cannot relate to the story due to the madness of the man and the talking raven.

This novel displays a few common gothic features, the protagonist is effected very dramatically by past events in his life and the presence of the supernatural shown though out the novel. right from the start when I am told that it is a cold dark. night and the man is alone reading a book on ‘forgotten lore’ and there is a sudden knock at the door, a dark spooky gothic mood is created. Were also notice that thought the text the same event come back to haunt him, the raven driving him deeper into insanity. The grieving of the death of Lenore and the dying fire establish a mood concerned with death and memories.

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