Trochaic Octameter In Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

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Many people can recount a night like the narrator’s in “The Raven” when they felt alone and distraught. Overwhelmed by some great sorrow or situation, their mind could not find blissful sleep, but instead wandered to a place of doubt and fear. Though most people’s dreary night did not end with a visit from a talking bird, they can understand the angst of the speaker in “The Raven”. Edgar Allan Poe’s strategic writing, nightmarish effect, and relation to the main character captivates his audience.
Poe utilizes specific techniques to bring about his desired effects. Poe uses a rhyming trochaic octameter (Edwards). Though a traditional trochaic octameter contains eight syllables in each line and the emphasis placed on the first syllable, Poe
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The theme of overwhelming sorrow is “at the heart of the poem” (Edwards). The narrator of the poem feels deep sorrow for his lost Lenore and attempts to distract himself with a book: “-vainly I had sought to borrow / From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-” (Poe). This tactic does not last long because of the raven’s visit. Initially, the conversation between the narrator and the raven is shallow, but, being overwhelmed by grief, the narrator desperately asks the raven if he shall ever see Lenore again. This question prompts no different response and subsequently throws the narrator into a mad, hysterical fit at the notion of his enduring anguish. His sorrow eventually drives him insane. Poe…show more content…
The speaker begins his tale in his room alone and apart from society. The absence of other human characters deliberately aids the theme (Dhahir). The speaker has been left with only his grief-filled thoughts which eventually bring him the disturbing raven. When the speaker first heard the tapping, he thought it was a visitor who had come to end his loneliness: “‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door” (Poe). He seems to be excited about the visitor, but does not imagine it being a bird. After the unpleasant conversation with the raven, the speaker wishes to be alone and undisturbed once more: “Leave my loneliness unbroken!” (Poe). Though his separation from society is partially at fault for his madness, the speaker does not realize this. Dennis W. Eddings writes that Poe also intertwines a less obvious theme: “Imagination, unchecked by reason, leads to a dead end.” The raven sits idly atop Pallas, the goddess of wisdom, throughout the poem. This is symbolic of the raven controlling the speaker’s reason (Eddings). Abandoning his rationality, he believes the raven actually knows the fate of his beloved Lenore. As a result, his imagination leads him into a psychotic state and his mind is forever clouded: “And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting / On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door”
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