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Comparison of Literary Works

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 629
  • Category: The Raven

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Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe displayed many recognizable differences in their works, but they also shared a few similarities. In these two particular poems, “The Raven” and “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” both writers demonstrated similar literary elements. Through my analysis of both poems, I recognized the similarities in tone, symbol, and diction. The idea of losing a loved one is very evident in both literary works but the writers have different outlooks on death. The voices of death in both poets works seem to reflect their own experiences, so the messages are different.

In “The Raven,” Poe writes about an unnamed narrator who seems to be mourning the death of his loved one. The narrator seemed to be very scholarly but his knowledge wasn’t enough for him to acknowledge and accept the loss of his beloved, Lenore. His desperation to see Lenore again led him into a deep depression. The Raven seems to overthrow the narrators rational mind by continuously repeating “nevermore.” The repetition of “nevermore” serves as a refusal of the narrators desires to be reunited with his loved one again. It’s also the beginning of the eternal separation from his beloved Lenore. It is unclear to readers whether the Raven is a supernatural being or if it’s the narrators doubts of his own subconscious mind.

In Whitman’s literary work, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” the very obvious elements are love and death. The narrator once witnessed two birds in their nest and they seemed to love each other, but one vanishes suddenly. While the he-bird searches for his loved one, Whitman expressed his own viewpoint on death through the young boy(narrator). The he-bird sings, “Loved! Loved! Loved! Loved! Loved! But my love no more, no more with me.” (130). He felt some sort of connection with the he-bird because of his own experiences with the loss of a loved one. After the she-bird vanishes, the he-birds once joyous songs have now turned into songs of darkness. This can be a representation of the transformation that Whitman had to undergo when dealing with the loss of his own loved one.

In both literary works, the birds play significant roles. The Raven and the he-bird are both capable of speaking to the narrators. Also, both birds are knowledgeable because they understand the concept of death and loss. The Ravens repetition of “nevermore” ultimately made the narrator feel angry, depressed, and lonely. Meanwhile, in Whitman’s work, the he-bird made the narrator want to further understand this experience with death.In “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” the narrator says, “Whereto answering the sea… Lisp’d to me the low and delicious word death.” (33). In my opinion, the Raven has more of a symbolic meaning than the he-bird. The readers know exactly what the Raven is referring to when it says, “nevermore.” Through repetition and symbolism , Poe makes insanity very evident. By doing so, he helped the readers further understand the emotions that the writer is trying to convey.

Both writers displayed the use of symbolism in these particular works. Whitman uses the sea as a symbol of knowledge and life, the grave of old age and death, and the cradle of youth and innocence. He also uses the moon as a symbol of a reflection of the love of the she-bird. The birds appear to be more spirit like, rather than a dark bird who symbolizes nothingness and is more of a messenger like the Raven. Whitman’s he-bird is more of the loving bird that was filled with joy. While the Raven sort of represents darkness and the unknown.

These literary works “The Raven” and “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” are different but similar in so many ways.                  

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