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The Raven

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Man and the Natural World Theme

Many of the scary things our speaker faces on this crazy night have to do with the natural world. He imagines hostile natural forces all around him, surrounding his peaceful, civilized room, just waiting to break in. The dark night, the sound of the wind…they are all threatening and unfathomable. Then nature does break in, in the form of that arrogant, talkative bird. This is the big central confrontation of the poem, and it brings the idea of a conflict between man and nature right to the front.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Do you think the Raven pushes our speaker over the edge, or does he do it to himself? Is nature torturing him, or his own mind?
  2. Why do you think a raven was for Poe a useful symbol? What if, instead, the ghost of Lenore had showed up?
  3. How does Poe represent the spooky side of nature? Why is that so important for this poem?
  4. Is there anything really scary about the natural world in this poem, or does the speaker create all the terror in his mind?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The raven and the rest of the natural world don't want to hurt or destroy the narrator at all. In fact, it is only his growing madness that makes the raven appear evil.

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