October 6, 2004

Raven-ous

I used to watch Animaniacs. You know what I am talking about. The two brothers: Yakko and Wakko and their sister, Dot. "Helllllooo Nurse" and "ZORT!" If you don't know what I am talking about--read up.

Anyway, when I found out we were reading Poe's "The Raven", the immediate thing that popped into my mind was the Animaniac version and how ANNOYING Poe can become, especially in cartoon form.

Beyond the repetition of "nevermore" in "The Raven", I agree with Renee, I just don't get the symbolism of the poem. The raven--bird or statue above the chamber door? Not quite sure.

Then I ask, was that the intent of Poe, to keep his readers in the dark? Pun intended. :-) Probably. The reader gets just as lost as the narrator, strung along in the dark soliloquy.

Such sparse detail in what is actually going on between all the "nevermores" is offered. I wanted to bang my head up against something by the end of the poem. I like Ambrose Bierce better. While Bierce does not give everything, he does not leave the reader hanging either. What is it with me and puns this week? When the narrator mentions that the soldier was a "federal scout," for example, the reader knows something is up, and that Peyton is in trouble. Thanks Bierce for spelling it all out for me. Definite smileys for him. :-D :-) >;-)

While the ambiguous technique Poe employs here does create an overall dark and edgy mood; I despise things like this when quizzes come round, and I don't have a definite answer to refer back to. I know this is a terrible thing to say, but looking for objective answers while reading is a good critical thinking method.

While reading Poe, however, I kept asking myself, "WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?" This poem could be taken in many ways: the bird is not real, the man/woman narrating (you never do discover the gender--wouldn't that be something to study?!) is in a mental institution, the narrator is in the living room of their stately manse (as Zach believes), reflecting upon Lost Lenore. The possibilities are endless. One interpretation by Wikipedia, is that the bird is a figment of the narrator's imagination, "an uncomely real [hallucination], with real black feathers and a real croaking of the single word, 'Nevermore.'" While Wikipedia maintains a certain skepticism about the hallucination theory, the Online Companion to the Norton Anthology accepts the symbolism more readily:

"Poets frequently turn to birds as poetic voices of nature and symbols in their poems...Compare Poe's symbolic use of the raven with that in one of these poems, and think about why Romantic poets in particular are attracted to birds as symbols."

As for the style of the poem, Poe goes crazy over repetition once more--NEVERMORE! However, I must concede that the final lines of each stanza are constructed pretty well, especially at the beginning of the poem; later, though, it seems like Poe got tired of thinking up tricky lines and just started writing, "Quoth the Raven Nevermore". He was probably too busy writing "The Bells" and the "Tell Tale Heart" to notice his little lapse in style diversity.

I welcome comments. Poe eludes me; if someone thinks they have a better grasp than I--please educate me. I need your assistance. :-)

Update: 10/9/04 I haven't made up my mind yet about Poe, even with more research. His style, I have concluded with additional research, is meant to be discordant with reality and sanity. That, in essence, is the appeal of Poe.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at October 6, 2004 7:15 PM
Comments

*autocheck Karissa*
Might want to look over that last paragraph, Amanda. You can delete this when you fix it :)
"Poe is a elludes me;..." You know what to do.

Posted by: Karissa at October 6, 2004 8:46 PM

AWWW WORD! You "linked" me!!! I shall love you forever and ever!!!

Posted by: Rowdy at October 6, 2004 10:42 PM

Thanks Rosemary, I mean Karissa :p Love you, girl. I am not going to delet your comment...it shows people that I make mistakes, lots of them.

Renee, thanks for being a kindred spirit Poe misunderstanding. I don't feel so alone when there are people out there like you.

I think we are making more progress than we think, though. I mean, you noticed that Poe uses "symbolic undertones"--some people don't even know that. Woohoo for you! :-D

Posted by: Amanda at October 7, 2004 12:10 AM

Amanda, im not so sure what Poe is getting at either, but i made a few dark, morbid stabs at it in my blog entry "Black as Night" Check it out and let me know what you think..

Posted by: Lori at October 8, 2004 12:14 PM

Hey Amanda!
I wanted to comment/ ask you about your statement on whether or not you thought "The Raven" was a hallucination or not. Your longest quote about the poem was describing the whole narrative as a a hallucination, but you never actually said what YOU thought it was. I also wanted to say that I think there is no question pertaining to the sex of the narrator. The poem was written back in the 1800's, and if the narrator is longing for their lost love Lenore (much implied to be a female), I do not think that Poe would be writing about a woman longing for another women during this time period. I wanted to know why you were even questioning the sex of the narrator. Did you read something about it somewhere, because it really struck me as odd that you seemed to question the sex of the narrator. Like you, I was totally lost in the symbolism of the poem and I did some research and posted a blog about it so if you want to check that out, I would LOVE to see what you think!

Trisha :)

Posted by: TrishaWehrle at October 10, 2004 11:36 AM

Trisha, I agree with you about the narrator most likely being male, but the best part about literary interpretation is going outside the historical context. New Criticism is the proper name for what I observed, the possibility that a female may be the narrator in "The Raven". I did not read it anywhere, but made the comment to accentuate how much Poe does not tell in the poem.

As for my feeling about whether the entire poem is an hallucination or not, I am not sure. And I like uncertainty for my future paper. I haven't done extensive research on this topic, so for the sake of argument, I am not going to state my opinion until I do more research.

But, I am leaning toward the hallucination theory because so much seems imagined. Though I have had birds and other flying creatures in my home, I don't think ANY of them has said "Nevermore" or anything remotely English. :-D

Posted by: Amanda at October 10, 2004 2:44 PM

Poetry and stories don't have to have meaning to be enjoyed. Poe was against didactism--teaching in literature. He was very much making art for the sake of art. He wrote stories to be entertaining and interesting, not to have any deep philosophical meaning about life. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the creepy imagery and sound of The Raven--that's how you're meant to experience it.

Posted by: jake at June 19, 2005 9:57 AM
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