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Edgar Allan Poe is one of the more problematic figures in American literature research papers. Almost everyone is familiar with one or more of his suspense tales and poems:
Most of us have had to do research papers on Poe's work in or around middle school, and thus his reputation lies somewhere in the vicinity of a cross between a hack and quaint inventor of the horror genre. But Edgar Allan Poe invented the modern detective fiction. Without Poe there might have been no Arthur Conan Doyle, Earl Stanley Gardner or even Stephen King, writers whose love of Poe translated into commercial success, if not literary aplomb. Edgar Allan Poe is likea writer of literature research paper's guilty pleasure, and his importance cannot be understated. His radical approach to literature, in which he consistently followed his own ideals, must account for his continued popularity. Such radicalism can be seen in two works: The Raven and Annabel Lee.
Poe's brilliance comes through two devices in this poem:
- The repetition of "Nevermore"
- The imagery of the raven
In the end, the poem cannot be seen as a literal; the raven remains on the bust of Pallas as an almost schizophrenic delusion: a visible reminder of the pain of lost love. Poe's achievement in The Raven transcends the standard misinterpretation of the poem. The bird is, in many respects, unimportant to the work. It is the chief symbol, yes, but a manifestation of overwhelming emotion.
Edgar Allan Poe completed his poem "The Raven" in 1845. A year later, the poet published an explanation of the process he followed in composing this literary work in an article entitled "The Philosophy of Composition" in Graham's Magazine. This fascinating work begins with a discussion of some of the techniques used by other writers including Charles Dickens. Then he details the steps he went through to complete his poem.
Poe explains that he prefers to begin the writing process by considering the effect that he wants to achieve with his writing. After deciding on the effect that he wants to achieve, the poet explains that he then considers how to achieve this effect. In his mind, he has two options for creating this effect. "..I consider whether it can best be wrought by incident or tone-whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone..". Poe adds that his composition of "The Raven" was written in a methodical manner and not by some sudden inspiration or other means.
Poe explains that the length of the poem is most important, the most appropriate length is 100 lines, and "The Raven" comes in close at 108 lines. The length is important according to Poe because the piece should be read at one sitting to achieve the desired effect. After deciding on the appropriate length, Poe reveals that he considered the impression and tone that he wanted in the poem. Poe decided on beauty as the effect he wanted to create and melancholy or sadness for the tone. The next ingredient that the poet searched for was artistic structure to achieve his aims. The poet discusses his thought process on deciding to include a refrain. "In carefully thinking over all the usual artistic effects-or more properly points, in the theatrical sense-I did not fail to perceive immediately that no one had been so universally employed as that of the refrain". The refrain that he chose in "The Raven" is quite unique in that it is the use of the word more in combination with other words. "Only this, and nothing more"(Poe 1989)is used at the end of the first stanza. Each stanza ends with a repetition of this word until the last sentence of the poem. "Shall be lifted-nevermore"