5 Theme in The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Read this article to know about the theme in The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.


“The Raven” is written by an American writer Edgar Allen Poe. This poem is his narrative poem. It was published first in January 1845. This poem is often notable for its stylized language, musicality and supernatural atmosphere created by the writer.

The poem tells of a talking raven, and it’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover. As with many other of Edger’s works, this poem “The Raven” also expresses and explores death.

Especially this poem of Poe’s explores the effects of death on life and living, such as mourning, grief and all the memories of deceased, as well as a question that so often hurts those who have lost their loved ones to death. Whether there is an afterlife, in which they will be rejoined with the dead.

Themes and Symbols in The Raven

  • Death and Afterlife

The Narrator is grieving alone in the dark, in a cheerless room, “weak and weary.” By reading his book, he portrays himself as he is trying to find out the surcease of sorrow and grief. One might read this as he describes the reading of the narrator from the book of “forgotten lore” to show that he is in search of arcane knowledge about how to invert death.

One can have the impression in his mind after reading that this is an effort of the narrator who tries to distract himself and thereby escape from the pain of their loved one’s death. In another case, we see the narrator reaction to the death of a loved one is fairly typical, to try to escape the pain of it. Or to attempt to deny death.

  • Loss and Memory

When the student dwelt in sorrow and half dreaming of his loved ones, He hears a sound of tapping on his window, he opens the window considering a raven, who has escaped from his master, who’s in search of a shelter from the storm.

The raven only can speak one word, “Nevermore.” When this incident amuses the narrator, he asks the raven a question. The raven only replies “Nevermore” which seems a musical echo in his heart.

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  • Spiritual Subconscious

The stormy midnight hour and the sorrow of the student contribute to the general effect of the poem. But the most important thing is the sound of the refrain, which established even before the raven appears by the dead.

By the word “Nevermore” and the echo of the word “O Leonore” is further highlighted in stanza 6 when the student gazes into the darkness and whispers “Leonore?” only for the echo of that specific word, “Merely this and nothing more”.

Once the lost Lenore proposed as the beginning of the student’s grief, the presence of the raven as a description of objectification of this sorrow looks poetically justified. The student wonders after asking the question and hearing the ominous word from the raven, the bird’s ability to speak the word but understands that the word has no original meaning or relevance.

The significance of the bird’s answer depends solely on the nature of the question or remarks the student puts to it. Like when he says that the bird will leave tomorrow, “all of his hope flown before.” He is surprised by the seemingly relevant reply “Nevermore.”

  • One answer to the question “Nevermore”

By repeating “Nevermore,” the student starts to wonder that what the ominous bird means by repeating the same word. The god has sent him to rest from his sorrow and the memory of Leonore perhaps when he cries.

The same word that birds repeat makes the student to call him a prophet and forces him to ask it if after death and wants to ask many other questions but he knows that the bird will give him the same answer, nevermore.

  • Influence and Irrationality

He is obsessively pushing his needs for self-torture to its ultimate extreme. This poem is often dismissed as a cold-blooded expedient. It seems that it’s a carefully designed expression of the human need to torture the self and to find meaning in the meaninglessness.