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Literary Devices in “The Raven” Poem by Edgar Po


Literary works are often analysed in terms of literary devices and themes outlined. However, it is also important to understand how linguistic features help people reveal their ideas and enhance the impact of the text. Yeibo and Alabrabra (2011) note that linguistic tools have a greater effect as they are incorporated in the very work without the need to appeal to certain background knowledge or imagination of the reader. Linguistic means affect people’s senses (Strauss, 2005). It is possible to consider the poem by Edgar Allan Poe “The Raven” and pay specific attention to repetition as well as syntactic and morphological features.

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Repetition and Parallelism

Mehawesh (2013) notes that repetition is more commonly used in poetry than in other types of texts. Repetition is often used to create a specific atmosphere and put an emphasis on a certain idea (Zhao 2012). Poe resorts to this device to achieve the same goals. For instance, the poet writes,

‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; (Poe 2013, n.p.)

The entire sentence is repeated, and the reader has the impression that the visitor is haunting the poet. Poe creates quite a specific atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

The poet also employs a specific form of repetition, parallelism. Okunowo (2012) notes that parallelism provides a frame to the literary work and creates a specific atmosphere. In the poem in question, this device frames the poem and adds a feeling of despair and the lost hope. Six out of eighteen verses end in “and nothing more” and eleven verses finish with the word “nevermore” (Poe 2013, n.p.). It is noteworthy that in one verse, the final word is enhanced by a certain kind of repetition, “Never-nevermore” (Poe 2013, n.p.). Repetition of these words creates the necessary atmosphere, the atmosphere of fate and despair.

Syntactic Aspect

It is possible to note that syntactic features of the text can be a potent tool as they appeal to people’s associations and senses. Thus, the poem in question can be characterised by the abundance of the Verb (as well as Participle 1 and Gerund): remember, was, dying, wrought, wished, had sought, borrow and so on (Poe 2013). This makes the poem full of action. Even though the main character is in his room with the raven, the place seems to be in constant motion. The poet makes the reader feel the motion, and it is clear that not only the main character is moving from the door to the window, but his whole world is moving. Thus, the use of a particular part of speech creates a very specific atmosphere. In this poem, the atmosphere of great chaos and uncertainty is revealed. It is also possible to add that indirect word order which is also used in the poem enhances the atmosphere of chaos: “Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door” (Poe 2013, n.p.). These features also make the poem very emotional and appealing.

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Morphological Features

It is also possible to note that the poem is characterised by the use of suffixes. There are only a few examples of prefixes. For example, the poet uses such words as “unhappy”, “unmerciful” and some more (Poe 2013, n.p.). The prefixes are mainly negative. At the same time, the vast majority of the words are made with the help of suffixes: darkness, peering, dared, merely, and so on (Poe 2013, n.p.). This makes the poem seem quite ‘loaded’. In other words, it is not light, but the atmosphere of some burden is apparent. Of course, it also helps to create the necessary rhythm, which, in its turn, enhances the tensed atmosphere in the room of the main character.


On balance, it is possible to note that the poem in question has a very specific atmosphere created with the help of such linguistic devices as syntactic, morphological features as well as repetition and parallelism. Edgar Poe creates an atmosphere of despair and darkness, chaos and motion. The reader imagines the world of the man, the raven and evil spirits that are all moving at a great pace. Interestingly, the specific use of parts of speech and word forms enables the poet to enhance the impact the poem has. Word order makes the poem very emotional. Morphological choices help to create the necessary rhythm as well as the atmosphere. Hence, it is clear that such literary devices as metaphors or allusions are not the only tools used by poets. Linguistic devices are also potent since they appeal to people’s senses and associations.

Reference List

Mehawesh, MI 2013, ‘Grammatical parallelism in the translation of advertising texts with particular reference to English and Arabic’, Asian Social Science, vol. 9, no. 10, pp. 254-263.

Okunowo, Y 2012, ‘Patterns of parallelism as trope of meaning in Osundare’s poetry’, Academic Research International, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 715-723.

Poe, EA 2013, The raven, Web.

Strauss, SL 2005, The linguistics, neurology, and politics of Phonics: silent “E” speaks out, Routledge, New York, NY.

Yeibo, E & Alabrabra, T 2011, ‘Sound and stylistic meaning in Helon Habila’s Measuring Time’, Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 1, no. 9, pp. 1062-1068.

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Zhao, M 2012, ‘The art of balance: a corpus-assisted stylistic analysis of Woolfian parallelism in To the Lighthouse’, International Journal of English Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 39-58.

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