Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors

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The Raven - Poe

"And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before." (Poe)

What interesting lines. The unknown not only frightens him, but thrills him. The bird is so symbolic, especially since the narrator cannot seem to contain a fascination. Overall, I remember listening to a recording of this in high school, and I can still hear the speakers dull voice echoing "Lenore! Nevermore!" This story just seems to exemplify evil's purpose in literature, and how it can be portrayed in many different ways. Birds aren't supposed to be evil, right? Its the unknown in this story that thrills the reader, just as the narrator is thrilled in this story.


Surprisingly, birds can actually mean a multitude of things. If you google "raven" it comes up with a lot of superstitions about the bird, as well as where it lives and what it generally does.
The crow, for example, has been seen as the carrier or spirits, or it was seen as an omen of death (google).
Even though Poe's fascination with the bird can be seen as unhealthy, why did he pick a raven? If the bird itself is insignificant, why not make it a bluejay? Just something to think about :) how different creatures really make us feel and think differently.

Jennifer Prex said:

I agree that it is the unknown more so than the raven that "thrills" the reader. When it really comes down to it, that's what horror is really about. If we already know what awaits around the corner, most of the suspense is gone. To use a personal example--I used to volunteer at a haunted house. When I walked through it to get the patron's perspective, I never got scared because I knew exactly what to expect.

Dave said:

Ravens are certainly a much more sinister bird, though I'm guessing that he went with the Raven because Blue Jays aren't quite as good at picking up human speech as members of the crow family, and members of the Parrot family are too good at it, thus they'd be saying "Nevermore, hello, polly want a cracker? What? Hello? Pretty bird. Nevermore," which would totally ruin the poem.....on second thought, let's just stick with the whole symbolizing evil thing.

Jessica Pierce said:

Thanks for the insight about ravens and their background. I see what you all mean about the implications of using it - it is black, kind of scary, and would be creepy if it were to talk.

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Jessica Pierce on Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors: Thanks for the insight about r
Dave on Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors: Ravens are certainly a much mo
Jennifer Prex on Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors: I agree that it is the unknown
Heather Mourick on Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors: Surprisingly, birds can actual