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To What Extent Is The Symbolism In Edgar Allan Poe's 'the Raven' Responsible For Its Continuing Popularity And Success? [Approx 1540 Words]

1520 words - 6 pages

Edgar Allan Poe, one of the world's most famous horror writers and the man credited with inventing the modern detective story, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19th 1809. His short life ended at age forty but in these forty years Poe led an eccentric life, battled alcoholism and wrote some of America's most famous pieces of literature. Throughout his life Poe wrote over twenty short stories and composed many poems, all in the Gothic style that became synonymous with Poe himself.'The Raven', written four years before his death, is an excellent example of Poe's Gothic, poetic style; composed of one hundred and eight lines and split into eighteen verses 'The Raven' is also one of Poe's longest poems not to mention one of his most famous. 'The Raven' is said to be written in trochaic octameter, a poetic structure which means that the poem is written in lines of eight 'trochees' or pairs of syllables - the first with a strong stress and the second with a weak. This hypnotic method of writing gives 'The Raven' an almost lyrical feel as though it were a song, rather than a poem.'The Raven' was first published in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29th 1845 and soon achieved international acclaim, being translated into many languages including a famous translation by French poet Stéphane Mallarmé.So what is the secret to the popularity of 'The Raven' which continues 160 years after its first publication? The simple answer to this is that Poe, in 'The Raven', created a unique masterpiece which amalgamated many elements which, on their own, would not have had such an effect on a reader. The hypnotic method in which Poe wrote this poem, the gripping narrative composition, the atmosphere created by Poe's style of writing and finally the poem's classic symbolism together created an original and thrilling piece of literature. None of these elements were, in their own right, original or particularly captivating but when Poe brought them together he caused an explosion of literary genius. This essay will look at 'The Raven' in detail, paying particular attention to the symbolism employed by Poe in writing this poem, the possible effects these would have on a reader and how far this has helped The Raven to achieve international acclaim.'The Raven' is a haunting tale of the lonely narrator who finds himself alone in his chamber on a 'dreary' December midnight, reading and 'nearly napping'. Before long his fitful sleeping is interrupted by a 'rapping at his chamber door'. He opens the door and whispers the single name 'Lenore' - it is here that we discover the narrator is mourning the death of Lenore whom we assume to be his wife or lover. Illogically the narrator hopes that the visitor who has roused him is the ghost of Lenore. Discovering that nothing except darkness lies behind his chamber door he returns to his original position before the tapping resumes, this time coming from his window. As he opens the window a 'stately raven'...

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