Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Atmosphere of Doom in The Raven

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The Atmosphere of Doom in The Raven


Edgar Allan Poe’s life was unarguably the most awful lived by any one of the Romantic poets. The forty years that he lived were marked by death, severe depression, and insanity; themes that are recurrent in much of his poetry. Poe’s terrible life has an obvious influence on the atmosphere of impending doom that Poe creates in the poem The Raven.


One of the literary techniques that Poe makes use of in The Raven is diction. The mood and tone of the poem progress through Poe’s skillful use of alliteration and word choice. Poe begins the poem at a sad, somewhat tired pace with alliteration such as “nodded, nearly napping,” and “silken, sad, uncertain.” The pace of the poem quickens with the appearance of the “ghastly grim” raven who is “followed fast” by disaster. These two examples of clever alliteration show how the mood has changed from sad into frightening and how the tone has changed from slow and uncertain into fast and alarming. The mood continues to become more doom laden as the poem progresses and the speaker becomes more and more aware of the raven’s “horror haunted” purpose. The tone as well continues to quicken as the air grows “denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.” This quote uses alliteration and skillful word choice as well as imagery to create an atmosphere of impending doom through the mood and tone.


Poe uses the literary technique of imagery in his poem to create an atmosphere of imminent doom. There is no progression with Poe’s imagery as there is with his alliteration and word choice, but rather there is an equal sense of doom throughout the poem. One of the first images that Poe creates is that of a “dying ember [that] wrought[s] its ghost upon the floor.” This image of the dying ember that makes the shape of a ghost on the floor foreshadows the death of the speaker at the end of the poem when his “soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted � nevermore!” The image of the “stately raven” “with mien of lord or lady” is one of a calm and composed “ebony bird” brings to mind the being death. Death is portrayed as an unruffled, stately being with an air of importance as is the raven. There is enough evidence through imagery alone in the poem to prove that the raven is a symbol of death. Another image that corresponds directly with the theme of impending doom is the image of “the air [growing] denser.” Air becoming denser is often a symptom of forthcoming doom in literature. The images that Poe skillfully includes in his poem help to create an atmosphere of imminent doom.


Custom Essays on The Atmosphere of Doom in The Raven


Poe makes use of the formal elements of poetry; rhyme, repetition, and meter in his poem to create an atmosphere of approaching doom. The rhyme scheme of this poem is ABCBBB, this ongoing rhyming of the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines creates a rhythm and continuity that leads the speaker onward towards the end of the poem where doom is looming. The second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines in the first stanza rhyme with their equivalent lines in the following stanzas as well as with each other. For example, in the first stanza lore, door, door, and more correspond respectively with floor, Lenore, Lenore, and evermore of the second stanza. Again, this repetition of the same rhyme scheme and the same continuing rhyme creates rhythm and continuity that leads the reader closer and closer to idea of doom. The repetition of the last words of the fourth and fifth lines of each stanza also contributes to the progression of the atmosphere of the poem. The repetition of words creates a sense of urgency in the poem that causes the reader to read quicker and with a heightened sense of pressure.


Poe’s use of the literary techniques diction, imagery, and form in his poem The Raven help to create an atmosphere of impending doom. All of these literary devices help to create an atmosphere of foreboding that culminates in the death of the speaker. Poe uses alliteration and word choice to show the progress of the mood and tone of the poem which presents an atmosphere of doom to the reader. Poe uses imagery to create a representation of death and of imminent doom. Poe makes use of the formal elements of poetry with his rhyme scheme, meter, and repetition contributing to an atmosphere of doom. Through literary devices Edgar Allan Poe was able to convey an atmosphere of imminent doom in his poem The Raven.





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