Thursday, 31 October 2013

Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'

Now I know talking about this poem will (if you have seen it) conjure up ‘The Simpsons’ easily, as in one Tree House of Horror episode they showcased ‘The Raven’ with the narrator James Earl Jones. Whilst it would be good to watch it again and gain a feel for how the poem can work with modern imagery, I think that without reading it you won’t gain the same sense of urgency as the narrator.

The poem has a quick sense of rhythm and a repetitive notion in phrases and wording in its stanzas that link the nerves and growing madness of the narrator to the reader. A man haunted by a raven as much as he is the dead Lenore. And through the tension of the building poem, you really feel this twisting anguish.

However, today’s audiences might find it hard to understand some of the references, and some research might need to be undertaken to properly understand the poem; such as midnight referring to the witching hour, you might need to know who Pluto is in mythology, or even that nepenthe is a drug like an antidepressant.

Finally, death is a key theme here, in fact in many of the works of Poe that I have read death is very strong. It makes it gothic and horrific as it is the one thing we cannot run from. It is the one thing that in our souls we can fear and if horror can bring that to light in us, acknowledge it, send it deeper into our hearts, then Poe becomes an author to highlight such a genre and the plight of humanity.


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