One poem can have multiple meanings. Depending on the perspective, a happy poem can become sad. Something that was supposed to be meaningful can turn into a joke. In “The Raven”, Edgar Allen Poe took advantage of the power of perspective. He somehow created a poem vague enough to match anyone’s mindset, but detailed enough to carry on a story of its own. One way to look at the poem is not as death or going to heaven, but to see it as the state between life and death.
When people leave the earth, they have many questions. What will the people they leave behind feel? Will they be missed? Where did their loved ones end up? Will they have company in the new world where they will live out their afterlife? The narrator asked many question once he realized what the raven knew. Though it only repeated the word “nevermore,” it still answered his questions indirectly. Though Christians don’t hold this belief, some folklore talks about Reapers and Purgatory. It mentions things like the veil between the living, and those who couldn’t move on. Reapers are believed to show up and take the “essence” or soul or a person when it’s their time to go.
The raven could have been a symbol for a Reaper coming to let the speaker know that his time was up. It could have also been a sign that he was stuck in Purgatory. Purgatory is the world in between heaven and hell. In this state, people ask all the questions they knew wouldn’t be answered on earth. The narrator spoke about dozing off but never mentioned waking up. This could be a sign that he actually died and everything he was seeing was a detour before being stuck in his own personal hell.
This beautiful poem captures the vague essence of death and all of its enticing mystery.