The Raven Teaching Guide
- 8 pages
- Subject: Allusion, Character Analysis, Historical Context, Meter, Rhyme, Themes, Vocabulary, Lesson Plans and Educational Resources
- Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Additional The Raven Resources
So you’re going to teach “The Raven,” a classic poem that has been a mainstay in English classes for generations. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time you escort students through the text, some teaching tips will help ensure that the experience is rewarding for everyone, including you. Teaching “The Raven,” especially from a new perspective, will give students insight into Poe as a poet, as well as a literary critic, and help them develop an appreciation for the artistry in the text. Let’s look at things to keep in mind before you take your students into Poe’s dark, mysterious tale of loss and grief.
About This Document
Owl Eyes teaching guides have been designed to help first-time and veteran teachers open up classic works of literature for their students. Our guides provide rich background information, identify key themes and topics, and offer creative and practical approaches to teaching the text.
The main components of each guide include the following:
- A concise history of the text
- An explanation of significant allusions
- Teaching approaches and discussion questions
- Tricky issues to address while teaching
- Alternative teaching approaches
- A list of complementary texts
These teaching guides offer valuable context and promote meaningful discussions about novels, plays, poems, and stories that have captivated English Language Arts students for generations. Each guide is comprehensive and concise, thought-provoking and practical.
Approaches and Discussion Questions Excerpt
“The Raven” as an Introduction to Poetic Structure: Written in 18 stanzas, each with 6 lines, “The Raven” is an ideal poem for teaching the foundations of poetic structure. Its rhyme scheme does not vary, contributing to its musicality and hypnotic effects. Furthermore, because its meter is consistent, it’s a good introductory example for students learning how to scan poems. Poe also employs many other poetic elements, such as onomatopoeia (“tapping”), alliteration (“I nodded, nearly napping”), assonance (“thrilled me—filled me”), and metaphor (“each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor”).
- For discussion: After a short lesson on rhyme scheme, have students determine the poem’s rhyme scheme (ABCBBB). Take a look at the words most repeated throughout: door, nevermore, Lenore, floor, etc. How does the consistent rhyme contribute to what Poe calls the “unity of effect”—the singular feeling created by a text? What examples of internal rhyme (such as “dreary” and “weary” in the poem’s first line) can students find?
- For discussion: What is the meter of the poem? How does the meter change in the final line of each stanza? What effect does the change have on readers?
- For discussion: Note the words that Poe chooses to capitalize. Why do you think that he chose to capitalize words that are not usually capitalized in everyday speech?
- For discussion: How and why does the narrator personify the raven? Does the raven seem to exhibit any human qualities?
Additional Discussion Questions:
- In “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe writes that he wanted “The Raven” to appeal to both “the popular and the critical taste.” Ask students to discuss why the poem has remained popular with readers and why critics admire it.
- How is the narrator haunted, both emotionally and literally? Would you describe this poem as a ghost story? Why or why not?
- Note the repetition of the words “Lenore” and “nevermore.” What does their continued repetition suggest about the connection between them?
- How reliable is the narrator’s version of events? What parts of his story do you find believable, and which do you question?