The Raven

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Critics consider Lenore, the narrator’s lost love, to be a representation of Poe’s own deceased wife Virginia. While Lenore never actually appears in the poem and nothing is revealed about her other than her status as the narrator’s beloved, her presence looms over the text, as the narrator cannot prevent himself grieving her passing and wondering if he might be able to see her again.

Lenore Quotes in The Raven

The The Raven quotes below are all either spoken by Lenore or refer to Lenore. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death and the Afterlife Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of The Raven published in 2008.
The Raven Quotes

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Lenore
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator is studying “quaint,” “curious” and “forgotten” books in an effort to forget his misery over losing Lenore. Given that the narrator is a man of letters, that he would turn to old books for relief from his emotions might not come as a surprise. But the poem’s supernatural elements leave open the possibility that these books may be more than they seem. Though it’s never mentioned explicitly, the narrator might be searching their pages for some way to circumvent the finality of death and bring his beloved back to life. Despite the learned narrator’s rational bent, losing Lenore may have prompted him to explore magical means for dealing with grief. Either way, his tendency to delve into ancient literature in the face of his grief shows how focused he is on the past, whether in his scholarship or in his memories of his beloved.


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And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Lenore
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

As the narrator stands searching for the cause of the knock on his door, he whispers “Lenore” into the darkness, and receives only an echo back in return. Knowing full well that Lenore has passed away, he nevertheless allows himself to imagine that, should he speak her name, through some miracle he might receive a response. In saying “Lenore” out loud, the narrator continues to erode his earlier commitment to thinking rationally about the knocks at his door. The response he does receive is technically that of his own voice, sent back to him by natural means. Though this brief experiment to check if Lenore is actually there has failed, the brief exchange is not enough to quell his curiosity, as he returns to his chamber with his soul “burning.”

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Lenore Character Timeline in The Raven

The timeline below shows where the character Lenore appears in The Raven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Raven
Death and the Afterlife Theme Icon
Memory and Loss Theme Icon
...wishes for the night to pass so that he might escape from his sorrow over Lenore, his dead beloved. To distract himself from thinking about her, he says, he has been... (full context)
Death and the Afterlife Theme Icon
Memory and Loss Theme Icon
The Supernatural and the Subconscious Theme Icon
Rationality and Irrationality Theme Icon
Ancient Influences Theme Icon
...“Seraphim,” or angels, sent from God to help him recover from his grief over losing Lenore. He wonders if he might be able to “quaff this kind nepenthe” — to forget... (full context)