Hopeless Hope

“But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only (55)
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. (56)
Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered- (57)
Till I scarcely more than muttered: ‘Other friends have flown before- (58)
On the morrow he will leave me as my Hopes have flown before.’ (59)
Then the bird said, ‘Nevermore.’” (60)
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” projects a narrator who is depressed and hopeless after the recent death of a loved one, Lenore. The narrator attempts to rid himself of the memories of Lenore but continually brings her up. He looks to the Raven for guidance on whether or not he will see her again but the Raven simply says ‘Nevermore’. While the Raven is simply doing what it knows to do, the narrator takes this answer as absolute.
In the passage I choose, at line 58, Poe’s beautiful word choice of ‘flown’ is incredibly appropriate to the story. Not only does the word add to the flow with alliteration, it foreshadows the idea that the narrator is afraid of the Raven leaving him. The fact that the narrator is afraid of such a miniscule animal as a Raven to leave him shows that he is very desperate for companionship. But, due to his depressed outlook he favors the idea that the raven will fly away just like the rest of his friends. The rhythm that Poe created really allows for a punch line of sorts to incur and allow the reader to sink in the important words that the narrator is muttering.
Another important idea to mention is the fact that Poe makes an effort to capitalize ‘Hopes’ in line 59. As we normally capitalize for a proper noun, I figure Poe is likely making a spiteful reference to Lenore who has passed. Also being that we do not exactly know who or what Lenore was to the narrator, his hopes of Lenore could have been a wide range of subjects. Also, it is of note that if ‘Hopes’ is indeed Lenore then the “other friends have flown before” statement is almost saying that the other friends that have flown are not as significant as when his Hopes, Lenore, had flown.
The agitation that the narrator expresses in the passage I selected shows a growing frustration that shines even more as the story progresses. The Raven’s saying of ‘Nevermore’ is absolutely driving him crazy and in this passage I believe that we see the most evident beginning of this frustration. Similar to the heart beating in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” we see repetition of a simple sound or word that slowly drives the narrator crazy until the end of the story where he ‘snaps’. I think it’s important to mention that the Raven is likely only doing what it was taught, which was to say ‘Nevermore’. The importance lies in the fact that the narrator is using the Raven to look for answers when in reality it is just a on a playback-loop. However, he seems not really surprised or disappointed in the answers, it’s just something that the narrator needed to hear to realize what he already knew or suspected.


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