February 16, 2005

Life and Death with the Raven

I actually enjoy reading a literary analysis sometimes. (Notice I said "sometimes". The long winded ones I have no patience for.) Reading someone else's thoughts on a piece of writing helps me to understand some of the symbolism I probably would not have found previously. "Love, Life, and Death in Coleridge's Poem 'The Raven'" by Pavlina Hacova (a great name by the way) certainly showed me some elements of the poem I previously overlooked.

I completely understand the life/death element symbolized by the raven. The raven, a traditional symbol of death, becomes one of life as he finds love and has a family. However he is placed back into his traditional role as his family dies. While this isn't exactly an Earth-shattering analysis, what is interesting is how Coleridge interchanges the symbol of the raven throughout the poem. The reader begins thinking one thing- "Oh, scary bird, death, ok" progresses to think another- "Oh, scary bird, life, ok" and then comes back to the original- "Oh, scary bird, death, it's about time".

There were some aspects of the poem that I certainly did not find during my reading. Hacova writes about the religious meaning in the poem. I don't know why, but unless it is blatently obvious, I cannot find the religious symbols in any poem. (No, I'm not a complete heathen. It's just been awhile since my last religion class, ok?) I would have never connected the oak tree as a symbol for life or as "an honest person blessed by God". Often I wonder if the author meant to add all this symbolism (religious or otherwise) to his or her poem. However Hacova mentions that Coleridge's father was a reverend- I can assume the religious symbols were intentional.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at February 16, 2005 08:58 AM | TrackBack
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