Edgar Allan Poe tells the story of a bereaved man who is grieving for his lost love in the poem, “The Raven.” During a dark and gloomy night, the man hears a knock at his door. Hoping that it is Lenore, his dead lover, coming back to him, he goes to open the door. Unfortunately, he is only met with emptiness and disappointment. Shortly after, a raven flies into the room through the window and lands on the bust of Pallas. The man begins to converse with this dark and mysterious bird. In response to everything the man says, the raven repeats one dreadful word: “Nevermore.” The symbolism of the raven being connected to death, and the man’s interaction with the dark bird reveals to readers that he is going through the stages of dying. Subsequently, the repetition of the bird’s one worded reply makes it known that the man will never see Lenore again because there is no afterlife.
The poem begins with a man’s dark night being interrupted by a raven of the same hue. Traditionally, ravens are seen as bad omens and bringers of death since they are carrion birds and feed on the dead flesh of animals. The man, understanding the relation between the raven and death, associates the raven with “the Night’s Plutonian shore,” otherwise known as the underworld (48). The raven carries along with it a dark reputation.
Upholding its reputation, the raven brings death to the main character. As the man interacts with the raven, he is progressing through the stages of dying. The stages of dying are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This may seem familiar as they are the same stages of grief. The stages of grief and dying both originated from the Kübler-Ross model of “death and dying.” Having one model for both the grieving and dying process demonstrates the strong connection between bereavement and dying. It is clear that the main character is grieving over the loss of Lenore as he expresses his “sorrow for the lost Lenore” (10). Beyond that, however, the man is also dying.
The stages of dying, as previously stated, are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Individuals dying do not have to go through these stages in this order, though acceptance is usually last, and not every stage is always fulfilled. Characteristically, the main character does not go through his process of dying in this exact order, and it is also unclear whether or not he accepts his death at the end of the poem. At the start of the process, the man is in denial of his death. He hears a knock on the door, and his immediate thoughts go to Lenore’s death. He then tries to quell his emotions by reminding himself, “Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door/ Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door/ This it is, and nothing more” (16-18). He repeats over and over that it is just an average late-night visitor and not death coming for him. Luckily, when he opens the door, he is only greeted by the emptiness of the night. The man...