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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Review of 'The Raven'"

The essay starts out in possibly the best description of what Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Raven," is about. The author says, "'The Raven' is a similarly beautiful poem. Many readers who prefer sunshine to the weird lights with which Mr. Poe fills his sky, may be dull to its beauty, but it is none the less a great triumph of imagination and art." (Cooke). This might be my favorite explanation of Poe's general works I have ever read because it goes so far beyond just true. No, I would describe it as "super-true" because it describes exactly the writing style Poe uses in just one sentence. Basically, Cooke says that those people who prefer stories about happy times with endings of the main character falling in love and riding off into the sunset with his beautiful but fair maiden on the back of his trusty steed may not like Poe's work. This is very true because poe does not use anything close to that sort of plot line. In fact, Poe uses much fear and mystery in his stories. For instance, "The Raven" includes the narrator verging on the point of insanity with the bird that flew through his window. He is unsure if he should trust the bird because he is not sure the bird is work of God or of the Devil. If the bird has come from the Devil, he is certain it is there to give a constant reminder of how his wife, Lenore, will always and forever be gone. This plot gives a sense of illusion in that the bird may not even be real. It could just be an figment of his imagination because the bird is able to talk in English, which most birds cannot. Also, as Cooke points out, the word choice in "The Raven" is "well chosen" in that "(the words) bestow a touch of the fantastic, which is subsequently introduced as an important component of the poem." (Cooke). The fantastic is definitely a rather large part of the poem because Poe fills it with horror events that seem as if they have no place in a poem. For example, the raven is able to speak, but it can only speak one word and at only the perfect and appropriate times. It seems strange that the raven is almost having a conversation with the narrator, and it feels like the raven is understanding what the narrator is asking and saying (or screaming, in some cases). It could be described as fantastic to enter the raven at such a suspenseful time, as well. Along the same direction, I find the word "fantastic" to describe the poem well, but I do not think it gives quite enough justice to what Poe tried to accomplish. He wanted the reader to feel frightened, but I think "fantastic" just sounds like it is very unique or out of the box. It does not sound like how I would imagine Poe wanting it to sound. However, I still am a good fan of Edgar Allan Poe's classic masterpiece, "The Raven."

Works Cited

Cooke, P. Pendleton. "Edgar A. Poe," Southern Literary Messenger (January 1848). Reprinted in The Recognition of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Eric W. Carlson (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1966): pp. 21–23. Quoted as "Review of 'The Raven'" in Harold Bloom, ed. Edgar Allan Poe, Bloom's Major Poets. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 1999. (Updated 2007.) Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= BMPEAP21&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 23, 2010).

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