The Raven Themes
“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe has many different overall ideas. Two themes are clearly seen throughout the poem, one of them being the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with loss. Another theme being the loss of a loved one can lead to insanity. Poe shows these two themes through his hallucinations and anguish in the poem. Both themes contribute to one another. The loss is what is driving him towards drugs and alcohol, and the drugs and alcohol are what is making him insane.
The use of alcohol and drugs to cope with loss is seen through Poe’s actions in the poem. Poe makes his consumption of alcohol and his use of drugs very clear in the poem. In the 14th stanza he writes “Quaff, oh quaff kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!” Quaff is a alcoholic drink and nepenthe is a drug used to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow. He says that he is using this drug and drink to try and forget Lenore, who passed away. We can tell that Lenore was very important to Poe and because he cannot bear to live without her so he abuses substances that he hopes will help him forget her. This clearly shows his substance abuse to cope with loss of a loved one.
The loss of a loved one can lead to insanity is seen through the whole poem. We can infer that Poe’s conversations with an animal and his hallucinations are all a result of the death of Lenore. In the 5th stanza Poe says “And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”/ This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” He was so rattled by Lenore’s death he was hearing her name when in reality there was nothing. He started to have conversations with a raven. Poe believed the raven was saying “Nevermore” when in reality the raven was not saying anything because it is impossible for animals to talk. The loss of Lenore pushed Poe past sanity and made him think things that were impossible. “The Raven” shows the loss of a loved one will lead to insanity.