Tone and Mood in The Raven, a Poem by Edgar Allan Poe
The tone and mood of a poem or piece of literature has a very great impact on the elements of a story. The tone is the author’s attitude toward the subject, while the mood is the emotion aroused in the reader which the author creates. Word choice affects the tone of the literary work, and mood is expressed through feelings and thoughts of the reader. In the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, the mood and tone of the poem are both established and are greatly influenced by the language of the poem. Therefore, three ways that the author conveys the tone to set the mood are through the author’s unique choice of words, literary devices, and sound and rhythm techniques. First off, there are a few ways that Edgar Allan Poe’s use of language helps to convey the tone in order to set the mood. One way is that Poe starts off the poem with dark words, such as dreary, weary, bleak, dying, and sorrow. These words contribute to create a gloomy atmosphere, and depression is portrayed since the poem is about a man who mourns the death of his love. With the use of these words, a sad, lonely, and depressing mood is established. Another way language can help convey the tone to set the mood is that Poe is very descriptive in his writing, and “The Raven” is full of detail. Phrases such as “deep into the darkness” or “stillness gave no token” adds to a melancholy mood. These phrases create a feeling of silence and being completely alone as well. Finally, word choice whether positive or negative contributes in forming the mood of the poem. Next, literary devices in “The Raven” conveys the tone to set the mood in a couple of ways. One way is through repetition, which is where the same words or phrases are repeated a couple of times to indicate the idea. For example, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore'” expresses a melancholy tone, which leads to a sad mood, since the man was agitated with only that one word “nevermore” being the answer to his questions. The word nevermore creates a sense of hopelessness, although it does answer the narrator’s questions as well. Another way that literary devices help to convey the tone to set the mood is through the use of alliteration (repeating the sound of the first consonant in a series of words).
An example of alliteration in the poem is using words starting with “d”, like deep, darkness, doubting, dared, and dreaming. These words add to a sinister tone, which develops a sense of fear in the reader. Finally, literary devices add a sense of creativity to a poem. Lastly, the sound and rhythm techniques used in the poem convey the tone in order to set the mood in many ways. One of these ways is that rhythm and sound both correspond with the narrator’s feelings and experiences. Sound and rhythm both bring forth a dark and dismal tone, leading to a despairing mood, and can have a singsong tone which might be haunting and create uneasiness . An example of a rhythm technique portrayed in the poem is internal rhyme (where the middle word rhymes with ending word), like “dreary” and “weary” in the first line of the poem. Another way that sound and rhythm techniques convey the tone to set the mood is through the use of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is an imitation of natural sounds, and an example of this in the poem is “rapping” and “tapping.” Such words make the reader curious and the strong, consistent sounds increase the speed of the poem and enhance the tone also. Finally, the patterns of sound and rhythm make the poem more interesting. In conclusion, “The Raven” is influenced greatly by tone and mood. Word choice, literary devices, and sound and rhythm techniques or patterns all have an effect on the tone and mood. Tone and mood both change over the course of the poem as well. In the beginning of the poem, the tone was calm and slow since the narrator was recalling a flashback. However, by the end of the poem, the tone started to be panicky and frantic. The mood went from depressed to madness also. I personally believe that ‘The Raven” is a very well written poem, and it is very mysterious too. Overall, “The Raven” has a tone that distinguishes the mood of the poem very well.