'The Raven' is a poem written by the American writer Edgar Allen Poe and is often considered a seminal piece of Gothic poetry for its supernatural or spooky atmosphere, dark allusions and macabre, stylized language.
Gothic examples in 'The Raven'
The most obvious element of the poem that conjures up links to the Gothic literature of Horace Walpole or Clara Reeve is the surreal and ghostly approach taken by Poe to the narrative. From the first two stanzas, he sets the atmosphere by describing 'a midnight dreary' and a ' bleak December'. This is followed by his description of a fireplace with the line: "each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor"
Other than the general scenery, Poe manages to inject elements of the Gothic through allusions such as the "many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore", which is thought to be a reference to black magic and the occult.
The themes of both romance and horror run strongly through the narrative of the poem with the story of a raven that visits a forlorn lover running parallel with that character's increasing distress and eventual descent into madness.
What constitutes Gothic literature
Gothic fiction is broadly viewed as a fusing of the horror and romance genres. A melodramatic tone and sombre imagery is one feature of the style. Edgar Allen Poe, in the context of Gothic literature, is seen as something of a revivalist. This is because the genre reached its peak sometime before Poe's work and, in fact, his style sees a marked shift away from the more traditional approach of Gothic literature and, instead, favours more of a psychological, character-based angle.