RHT 102 DePaul University Symbols of Depression of The Raven by E A Poe Essay Please view the attached essay on Symbols of Depression of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. I need to have 5 full pagesPlease add an additional paragraph to the ending, maybe one last symbol Religion or Time of year or the rhyming. Aleksandra Zapior
April 15th, 2020
Symbols of Depression
All types of literature such as lyrics, poems, and stories have some sort of theme to
control, centralize, and influence its idea. Several writers, artists, and poets practice the use of
symbols in order to get the reader’s attention so that they can focus more on a particular theme of
their work. Some of these symbols can be subtle, while others can be difficult to find. In the
poem “The Raven,” which is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, has various symbols that are used to
direct the focus on depression as the theme for the poem. The poem starts off by introducing us
to a particular character who mourns the loss of Lenore, his beloved wife. A raven suddenly
appears on the character’s window, and from there on is caught up in a vocal argument with it.
By listening to this argument, the reader can realize that the character is going through
The Oxford English Dictionary defines depression as a frequent sign of psychiatric
abnormality, which brings about symptoms of anguish, guilt, or misery, which mostly comes
along with insomnia and headache. As it is, depression is a sad topic and has been reported to
affect most people. Many individuals who suffer from depression develop abnormal mood
swings, which, as a result, makes them feel little to no pleasure at all. They also develop a lack of
interest in life, where they begin to see no meaning to it. People who suffer from severe
depression start to imagine certain things, which makes them extremely fatigued, which can
ultimately lead to death. Poe’s technique consists of using symbols to express depression as a
SYMBOLS OF DEPRESSION
theme; the reader can get the knowledge or information of the narrator’s feelings.
In the poem “The Raven,” Lenore appears to be one of the most iconic symbols of
depression. The feeling which the narrator gets after losing his beloved, describes the connection
between Lenore and depression. During this mourning period, he feels depressed and lonely and
can only think about his loss. The reader is able to see that the main focus of the narrator is
Lenore. This is notable because, anytime the narrator tries to bring up other topics, he ends up
thinking about his loss. In the poem of “The Raven” it reads, “From my books surcease of
sorrow– for the lost Lenore–/for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-/Nameless here for evermore” (Poe, 10-12). Here the narrator tries to describe his attributes as he
grieves for the loss of his beloved Lenore. He fails in his attempt to end the pain he is feeling by
reading books as a distraction; however, every time he does this, he gets reminded of his loss.
This repeated reminder of his loss begins to break the narrator down into a depressed state, as he
suddenly begins to hear tapping noises by the door.
The second most iconic symbol of depression in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven”
would have to be the raven itself. In this poem, the Raven is attributed to various symbols
throughout the poem. However, with the symbol of depression is due to the grief which has been
caused by loneliness and separation through death. This is why we find the narrator conflicting
with the Raven in his state of depression. In the poem of “The Raven” it states, “Be that word our
sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting –/”Get thee back into the tempest and the
Night’s Plutonian shore! /Leave no black plume as a token that lie thy soul hath spoken! /Leave
my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door” (Poe 97-100). At this point, the narrator
loses his temper and starts confronting the Raven. He even warns the Raven not to leave any
trace of its mere existence, and that it should leave him alone to deal with his loneliness. Here the
SYMBOLS OF DEPRESSION
narrator stops grieving for Lenore and begins to project his depression towards the Raven.
Darkness is the third symbol of depression in Poe’s poem “The Raven.” As the poem begins, it
reads as follows; “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,/ Over many
a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–” (Poe 1-2). The narrator mentions the time so that
the reader is able to understand what exactly the narrator is experiencing. There are several
meanings which could best describe darkness. It is used to describe evil or sadness. It is also
related to the black color which mostly attributes to death, mourning or sorrow. At this point, the
narrator’s state of mind is fragile and weary. However, the narrator becomes immediately
frightened by the tapping in the window, where he wishes for it to be Lenore only for him to find
nothing but a calm and dark night. Every encounter throughout the poem appears to have been
experienced at night. For this reason, the poem is filled with sorrow, which enables the reader to
connect through the narrator’s depression.
The chamber or rather the house which the narrator lives in is the fourth symbol of
depression for this poem. Throughout the poem, the reader finds the narrator only in the
chamber. This symbol is used to describe the narrator’s loneliness and the sorrow he experiences
for the loss of his beloved Lenore. The room also has a connection between itself and darkness
as both give the reader the imagination of a man grieving about his love in a dark cold room, all
by himself. The chamber appears to be well furnished and this reminds the narrator of Lenore
through the memories they both shared in the room. Part of the poem states that “And the silken,
sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain/ Thrilled me– filled me with fantastic terrors never
felt before” (Poe 13-14). This shows how well the room had been furnished and with the purple
curtains, which suddenly saddens the narrator. One thing I should mention is that “terrors” meant
to be really excited and thrilled back then, which you may want to add in here. The narrator
SYMBOLS OF DEPRESSION
appears to have done a great job by ensuring he is isolated in the chamber and by adding some
interesting details such as the rustling curtains, which enhances the loneliness of the narrator.
Nepenthe is the fifth symbol of depression in this poem by Poe. This is a drug used to ease
the pain brought by grief and sadness. The narrator is stuck in so much sorrow he begins to
hallucinate. He develops an image that some perfume sent by God has been poured out in the
room. A part of the poem states that “Respite – respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of
Lenore; / Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore” (Poe 82-83). This
explains that the narrator views the entire situation as a sign that God wants to make sure that he
forgets about the pain caused by Lenore’s loss. He also convinces himself to drink up to forget
about Lenore, a Greek drink that makes an individual forget their life to go into the afterworld.
This shows the narrator reaching out for religion out of desperation.
The punctuation style used by Edgar Allen Poe for the conversation between the narrator
and the Raven is marked as the ultimate symbol of depression in the poem “The Raven.” At the
beginning of the novel, the reader experienced some calm and robust tone from the narrator. This
is because the punctuation used was not exclamation marks but periods of normal talking.
However, the punctuation begins to change into exclamation marks once the narrator begins to
argue with the Raven. This shows that the narrator is mad and angry at the Raven. An example
from the poem “The Raven” would be, “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or
devil!—(Poe 85). This shows that the narrator is having a major breakdown as he is seen yelling
to the Raven, repeating the word “nevermore.” The narrator finally has a mental breakdown
which is as a result of all the pain and sorrow he felt while grieving for Lenore. He begins to let
out all of his emotions to the Raven by yelling “nevermore” at it, which makes him even angrier.
SYMBOLS OF DEPRESSION
Like many other writers, poets, and artists that use symbols to express their theme
ideas, Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven ” has many symbolic themes that a reader can
portray while reading the poem. There are several additional symbols that the reader is able to
identify in this poem, “The Raven.” Poe uses different methods to describe how different
symbols can control the meaning of specific ideas and themes of a poem. For example, in this
poem, depression is the central theme. However, it can be found through symbols such as the
Raven itself, Lenore, the chamber, darkness, Nepenthe, punctuation, and even repetition of
words in the poem. This poem can connect to many different readers as the topic of depression is
one of the most talked about to this date.
You need to have 5 full pages. Maybe one last symbol Religion? Time of year or the rhyming?
“Depression, n.” OED Online, March 2018,
www.oed.com/view/Entry/50451. Accessed 14 April 2018.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Raven.” Readings for RHT 102. Italicize title/website Bedford/St.
Martin, Apr 2018. p.
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