Setting and Overview


As usual with Poe’s poetry, and in accord with his theory, “The Raven” is not a long poem. In its 108 lines, however, are packed a great deal of emotion and literary skill. It can be read on one level for Poe’s impressive choice of words and striking figures of speech. On another level, it can be appreciated for the story contained in the text the true nature of the brief narrative can be understood fully only through careful study. The text of the “The Raven” provides a lesson on the structure of Romantic verse.


The action of the poem takes place in the study of a young man who is pondering “Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” Thus, the poet both sets the scene and prepares the somber and uneasy mood of events to come. The room is described in some detail, most of it lush and romantic, from the shadows caused as “each dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor” to the “silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain.” The principal object in the room is the bust of Pallas placed “just above my chamber door,” upon which the raven perches.