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Love, Memory, and Reality in The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Updated on November 20, 2019
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Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

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Love, Memory, and Reality in The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

A person may go through a lot in dealing with a lost love. This may be in forms of going though flashbacks and memory lane, and even imagining fictional events that will never happen. Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as “one of the most important and influential American writers of the 19th century” (Edgar Allan Poe Museum, n.d.). He presented the pain through the poem “The Raven” with how he goes through various emotions as he surfs through his memories but gets slapped by reality.

The poem starts with the midnight when the persona was reading and nearly sleeping when someone or something knocked on his door which turned out to be a raven. He was about to fall asleep when the knocking took the sleepiness out of him. The transition of the narrative moves from being half-awake to being startled by the knocking at the door. From there, he began to fight with his own feelings and memories. It has been a moment of push and pull and the convincing that Lenore will never be with him anymore since she already died. He began talking to himself as he recalls his sorrows. It was staying at present while travelling through his pains because of the death of a loved one.

Themes of Love, Memory, and Reality in the Works

The Love Part

Love, memory, and reality work all throughout the context of the poem. Love was prevalent all throughout the poem as the persona expresses the pain that he feels because he was left by the person he loves as he mentioned that he feels “sorrow for the lost Lenore” (Poe, 2018, pp. 18-19). More than the pain was the presence of love despite the absence of the loved one. He repetitively shows this through mentioning “Lenore” all throughout the poem. She was described as the “rare and radiant maiden” named by the angels. He knew that she was dead, but she has been having difficulty in accepting that his love is lost already.

The Memory Part

Memory has been working all throughout the poem as he shifts his emotions and his consciousness from reality to pensiveness. He was reading a book until he was woken up by the knocking which he eventually knew there was “darkness there and nothing more” (Poe, 2018, p.34). He proceeded to going into the state of wallowing the concept that he lost someone. The entire atmosphere was sullenness, denial, and self-fighting.

The Reality Part

The raven kept on saying “Nevermore” all throughout the poem which a strike on the heart of the persona as reality is being pushed to his consciousness. It serves as a signal for him to go back to the present before he gets to drift to past or to his feelings towards Lenore. The fight enters the scene as he says that “the only word there spoken was the whispered/ word, ‘Lenore’?” (Poe, 2018, pp.51-52). He went into his memory whenever he gets to recall Lenore and whenever he hears the word from the raven, he gets back to reality.

The rest of the poem dealt with the pushing away of reality and denying of the truth. This can be crystalized through the constant attempt to send the raven away until he accepts that fact that the truth cannot be changed in the last lines “…my soul from out that shadow that lies floating/on the floor:/Shall be lifted-nevermore!”. He finally accepts the reality that he can never shove away just like how he attempts to send the bird away.

Conclusion

“The Raven” is a painful poem of acceptance where the persona would have to undergo the struggle that even if the cause of pain is something that he wants to remove, it is something that he has to surrender to. He then gives in where love made alive through memory gently bows down to reality and the acceptance that something will never be regained despite the constant denial and resistance. The poem was a perfect example of facing reality despite all the hopes and memories attached to the former source of happiness.

References

“Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?” Poe's Biography | Edgar Allan Poe Museum, www.poemuseum.org/who-was-edgar-allan-poe.

Poe, Edgar Allan. (2019). “The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.” Poetry Foundation, N.p. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48860/the-raven?fbclid=IwAR0rdLE3lwX-ISGvtStxfGmFYnlFJMfi-JrEobilIAQUTzCvKuwqPXv2Rvc.

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