“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe is a poem/short story about a man having lost a loved one and struggling to move on. One of the themes in “The Raven” is the dark side of the human mind. This is commonly addressed in a lot of other pieces by Poe like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”. However, the main theme that is addressed in “The Raven” is life after loss. The protagonist in the story is depressed after having lost his beloved Lenore; he is unable to move on. The raven that visits the protagonist represents their grief and mourning. The protagonist wonders to the bird:
“”Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.””
This being that when the protagonist wondered if he could ever forget his lost Lenore, the raven replied saying that he would never forget her.
Poe uses personification to add to how depressed and saddened the protagonist is by the loss of Lenore: “…dying ember…” (2.2). He continues to play on the emotions of the protagonist by using alliteration to add emphasis to how lost he has gotten without Lenore: “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;” (5.2), he says this before whispering into the darkness of his room “Lenore”, thinking that even perhaps it was her ghost that was tapping at his chamber door. To continue on the darkness that the character feels after losing Lenore, he describes the raven’s eyes as “And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming” (18.5).
Altogether, Poe uses a repeated theme of darkness as well as a theme of loss in “The Raven”. He uses stylistic devices like personification, alliteration and, hyperbole to add emphasis on the themes in the story to create a motif.