Tone in The Raven

The tone of “The Raven” is dark and melancholic. Poe uses words such as “bleak,” “haunted” “ghastly” and “grim” to create an atmosphere of despondency and sadness. The words and tone become increasingly dejected and intense as the narrator descends into misery, underscoring the evolution of the narrator’s thoughts and feelings.

The Raven 3
"nothing more..."   (The Raven)

Notice how the narrator repeats “nothing more” to comfort himself and dismiss his fears, and how the effect of the phrase changes with each stanza. Poe repeats this refrain to emphasize the narrator’s increasingly agitated state of mind and to gradually develop the poem’s mysterious, threatening atmosphere.

"Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling..."   (The Raven)

At first, the narrator tries to interpret the bird as a source of humor. However, his failure to continue to do so helps establish the prevailing tone. Notice how the narrator’s choice of words when addressing the raven become more intense and extreme as the mood of the poem darkens to reflect the growing misery of the narrator.

"its ghost upon the floor..."   (The Raven)

"Its ghost" refers to the dying embers of the fire that is about to go out. By using mysterious and depressing words such as “bleak,” “dying,” and “ghost,” Poe’s metaphors and word choices help set the mood of the poem.