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A Comparison of Poe's Raven and Coleridge's Albatross

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Words: 712 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 712|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" both explore the theme of an ominous bird as a symbol of impending doom. While Poe's raven and Coleridge's albatross both serve as harbingers of tragedy, they differ in their roles and significance within the respective narratives. This essay will compare the portrayal and implications of the albatross in Coleridge's poem with the raven in Poe's poem, highlighting the differences in their symbolism and the overall thematic impact. By examining these two iconic avian figures, we can gain a deeper understanding of how authors utilize symbolism to convey their themes and engage readers.

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One notable difference between the albatross in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and the raven in "The Raven" is their initial encounter with the main characters. In Coleridge's poem, the albatross appears as a gracious and benevolent creature, initially hailed by the mariner and his crew as a good omen. It is described as "a bird of good omen" (Coleridge, line 63), and its arrival brings a sense of hope and fortune to the sailors. However, in Poe's poem, the raven enters the scene as a mysterious and foreboding presence. It is introduced as a "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore" (Poe, line 44), immediately setting a dark and eerie tone. The contrasting initial impressions of the albatross and the raven foreshadow the contrasting roles they play in the narratives.

Furthermore, the albatross and the raven differ in their symbolism and the implications they have on the characters' fates. In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," the shooting of the albatross by the mariner brings upon a curse, leading to the deaths of the entire crew and the mariner's subsequent isolation. The albatross, initially a symbol of good fortune, becomes a burden and a curse that the mariner must bear. Its death represents the mariner's sin and the consequences he must face. The albatross, therefore, symbolizes the guilt and burden of the mariner's actions.

On the other hand, the raven in "The Raven" represents a different set of themes. It serves as a symbol of grief and mourning. The narrator, who is grieving for his lost love, Lenore, sees the raven as a manifestation of his sorrow and despair. The raven's repetitive cry of "nevermore" echoes the narrator's own feelings of loss and hopelessness. The raven, like the albatross, becomes a burden for the narrator, a constant reminder of his grief and inability to move on. The raven's presence throughout the poem heightens the atmosphere of melancholy and adds to the overall sense of impending doom.

In terms of the poems' structure and language, both Poe and Coleridge employ various literary devices to enhance the impact of the albatross and the raven. Coleridge uses vivid imagery and metaphors to describe the albatross, emphasizing its beauty and the mariner's initial admiration for the bird. He writes, "At length did cross an Albatross, / Through the fog it came" (Coleridge, lines 63-64), creating a sense of awe and wonder. Poe, on the other hand, focuses on the raven's darkness and mysteriousness. He describes it as "a grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore" (Poe, line 44), using alliteration and strong adjectives to evoke a sense of fear and unease. The choice of language in both poems contributes to the overall tone and mood, further emphasizing the contrasting roles of the albatross and the raven.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, while both the albatross in Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and the raven in Poe's "The Raven" serve as symbols of impending doom, they differ in their roles and significance within the narratives. The albatross begins as a positive omen but becomes a burden and curse for the mariner, symbolizing guilt and burden. On the other hand, the raven represents grief and mourning for the narrator in "The Raven," serving as a constant reminder of loss and hopelessness. By analyzing the portrayal and symbolism of these avian figures, we gain insight into the authors' use of symbolism to convey their themes and engage readers. The albatross and the raven, each with their distinct characteristics and implications, demonstrate the power of symbolism in literature and its ability to captivate readers and enhance the overall reading experience.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Comparison of Poe’s Raven and Coleridge’s Albatross. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-of-poes-raven-and-coleridges-albatross/
“A Comparison of Poe’s Raven and Coleridge’s Albatross.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-of-poes-raven-and-coleridges-albatross/
A Comparison of Poe’s Raven and Coleridge’s Albatross. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-of-poes-raven-and-coleridges-albatross/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
A Comparison of Poe’s Raven and Coleridge’s Albatross [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-comparison-of-poes-raven-and-coleridges-albatross/
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