An Unfolding of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven".
Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay entitled "The Philosophy of Composition". In this dissertation, Poe described the creation and work involved in composing his well-known literary masterpiece, "The Raven". In "The Philosophy of Composition," Poe stated that his design was to make "The Raven" "universally appreciable", so that the public, as well as the critics would share a strong appreciation of his work (Poe, 1850). While "The Raven" is quite possibly Poe's most disturbing tale, not so much because of images of grief or despair, but because of the haunting way the reader starts to feel the inner turmoil of the narrator, it is renowned as one of the greatest symbolic masterpieces of American Poetry.
"The Raven" is about a man who lost his true love and tries to ease the pain or "sorrow for the lost Lenore" (DiVanni, 721), by reading old books to keep his mind occupied. He is interrupted from his napping, by what he says is a "tapping on my chamber door" (DiVanni, 721). He gets up hoping that his lost love Lenore is outside, but as he opens the door he finds "darkness there and nothing more" (DiVanni, 722). The narrator returns to his chamber when he again hears a tapping; this time it is a little louder and is coming from the window. As he flings open the shutter, in steps "a stately Raven", the bird of ill omen (Poe, 1850). The Raven perches itself on a statue above the chamber door. The narrator tells the reader that the statue the Raven settles on is the bust of Pallas. Pallas is the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology (Nilsson, 1998). The man asks the Raven for his name, and to his surprise the bird answers back, "Nevermore." The narrator continues to ask the Raven other questions like, "Is there balm in Gilead?" and "Can Lenore be found in paradise?" The Raven answers all questions the same, responding with the phrase "Nevermore.