Considering The Symbolism Of “The Raven”

As we get ever closer to Halloween, one of the favorite activities of some families is to read some of the classic works of Edgar Allen Poe.

After all, who else in American literature has such scary and macabre stories and poems, focused on death and lost love? Edgar’s our man when it comes to Halloween.

One of the favorite Halloween poems is “The Raven,” which was successfully spoofed by the animated show The Simpsons during a Halloween special.

Poe developed quite a legacy with his short stories and poems, all revolving around death, lost love and the macabre in general. “The Raven” is one of those poems that can be analyzed to be about either death or lost love, or perhaps both. The symbolism can be interpreted in a number of ways, and let’s take a quick look at a couple of these symbols and what they could mean.

The Raven

Of course in a poem known as “The Raven,” it would only make sense to spend a little time discussing the title character. The raven tortures the narrator of the poem, especially with his incessant “nevermore” reply. But what does the raven mean in the poem?

The narrator refers to “Lenore” a few times in the piece, and the raven is asked about Lenore. While the Lenore symbolism will be discussed in a minute, the raven could either be seen as death (due to the dark color of the bird, which is often correlative to death) or could be symbolizing the Grim Reaper taking away Lenore, that lost love. Another idea has to do with Lenore not being an actual person but a symbol of love, where the raven is a reminder to the narrator that death is coming and overrules any positive emotion in this mortal existence.

Lenore

Lenore is clearly a symbol and is not referring to an actual person. At least, that seems to be the idea, because Poe takes no effort to explain anything about her.

We know from Poe’s biography that he did have a true love lost in his life, a woman whom he was infatuated but was forbidden because she was married to someone else. Then she died quite young and it tore Poe’s heart.  Perhaps Lenore is a memory of that lost love, and the raven represents death which took her away from the narrator and tortures the narrator’s heartbreak.

Another possible explanation is that Lenore could represent life eternal, or hope and optimism, while the raven is reality of death and the finality of mortal existence, and as much as the narrator wants to “focus” on what is possible with Lenore, the raven never fails to dominate the room, showing that escaping death can never happen. It’s like paying taxes.

Flight of the Raven

Which direction “The Raven” actually goes is up for healthy debate, but it seems pretty clear that both of Poe’s favorite themes – death and lost love – are showing in colorful words straight from the heart of Poe, one of the great writers in American history, and the darling of Halloween.

Analyzing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 With The Seasons

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

As the sonnet opens, it’s quickly a question that is addressed to the beloved. The comparison of a summer’s day addresses the answer in the next eleven lines of the sonnet.

By the 2nd line, the speaker has stipulated the differences between the young man, and the summer’s day. Quickly it’s addressed that the young man is more lovely and even more temperate than the summer day. This shows the extremes of the weather and differentiates the differences in the young man through the rough winds of life.

Regardless of the season, the young man is going through something and the author works to show the variances. Just as summer is fleeting, so are seasons in the young man’s life.

It leads on to withering autumn. It’s too hot, it too dim, it’s too cold, it’s too warm, it’s too windy and so on all describe various seasons in the young man’s life.

In the final refrains of the sonnet, it’s clearly pointed out that the beloved is different in that their beauty will last for eternity vs the seasonal beauty that is short-lived (for the season) and must move on to another season.

It goes on to state that the eternal summer shall never fade it shall never die. That in the couplet, the beauty will always be. It won’t fade or disappear.

It won’t perish as the poem has preserved it for all eternity. It’s going to last forever. As long as men breathe, as long as eyes can see, as long as ears can hear and as long as eternity exists, it will be.

As the beloved explains, everything in life has its own personal season, just as we do. The author is careful to weave it in such a fashion as to allow each line to stand alone, this isn’t always the case with a sonnet.

In the sonnet, everything is defined from time to seasons, to age. The ending of the sonnet shows that everything has its own season and there is beauty in all seasons of life. The author shows how they can defy time and eternity by simply accepting what the season is as it is.

Clearly, the author shows thought and intent with this sonnet as they go through the story in comparing it to seasons and life. Not nearly as famous as Romeo and Juliet, it still has its place in history to transfer death deeds in estate planning.

Paradise Lost: Analysis

The poem “Paradise Lost” is built around the premise of God, his creations, and man’s disobedience.

It takes a look at the way God’s creations were disobedient and how it came back to create a trail of events that are now etched into history. This is the premise of the poem, and it branches out from there using principal characters such as Satan.

This analysis will dive deeper into why the poem was penned, its main intentions, and how it was able to relay these convictions through the written word.

Hierarchy

In general, most readers will take a look at the development of disobedience as seen with Adam and Eve.

This is normal and is a big part of the poem, but there is more to the context in place. This is where it is time to start looking at the causes of these realities and why they came to be.

For example, everything is structured based on hierarchy.

This includes heaven, hell, God’s place, and the rest of his creations. Everything is in place for a reason, and if something disturbs this order, it tends to lead to a lost paradise.

For those who do obey God, they are respecting the hierarchal setup that’s in place.

This is why Satan’s disobedience is seen as the most significant turning point in biblical history. This was the first creation that let God down and continued to do so forever. There were no external pressures or anything of that sort in his way.

Everything was done at his own volition.

Fortunate Disobedience

With Adam and Eve, the disobedience is present, but it is viewed differently.

For example, it is seen as one that is great because it highlights the hierarchy and where humans stand. Those who do obey God can see his mercy in a way that otherwise would go amiss.

This is why the disobedience becomes a slight positive and one that can be leaned on during the poem.

It shows a way back for those who are human. It is a way to learn about God and his place in the hierarchy from a perspective that would not have been possible in other circumstances.

This is seen throughout the poem and is a big part of why it’s penned.

Mixed in are themes such as light and dark or contemplation to illustrate how the human mind works in the hierarchy.