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Comparison of The Raven and The Erlking

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Compare and contrast Goethe's 'The Erlking' with Poe's 'The Raven'. In particular, describe and discuss how the poets create tension and suspense In this essay, I am going to compare and contrast the two famous poems, 'The Raven' by Edgar Allen Poe and 'The Erlking' by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The Raven is a one hundred and eight line poem about a lonely man who is unstable after losing his wife and comes across a raven who only speaks the word, "nevermore". The Erlking is a poem about a man in a small girl's nightmare as he torments her but nobody else can see him. There are many similarities and differences between the two poems. Both poems have a gothic atmosphere and can be compared strongly in this way. However, both are of different lengths and differ fro9m each other. In this essay, I am going to discuss how the two poets create tension and suspense and make a conclusion after studying these poems. The first element I am going to compare and contrast is the storyline of the poem and the impression it is meant to have on its reader. I am going to start by analysing each poem individually and then make a small conclusion when I will see how they are similar and how they differ. I will be using this structure for each point I will discuss. ...read more.


The first quote is just three consecutive words starting with the same letter. The second quotation, on the other hand, uses two words consecutively starting with the same letter. However, the third word is part of the alliteration. The 'un' is not part of the alliteration but the second part is. Although this part of the word starts with a 'c', it is pronounced as the letter 's'. This is still part of the alliteration because this poem was obviously written to be read aloud. The Erlking is very different to the Raven, in this way, as it does not contain hardly any alliteration used for boosting the atmosphere. The Erlking does use a linguistic technique that the Raven does not use as much is repetition. An example of this is:- "Dear father, oh father, and do you not see," This is a technique very similar to alliteration as it created the same type of tension and both are meant to be read fairly slowly. Later on in The Erlking, this repetition phrase is repeated, showing that there is 'internal' repetition (with the word 'father') and also 'phrasal' repetition. The third I am going to consider is the rhyming scheme of each of the poems. The Erlking has a different rhyming scheme to the Raven. The Erlking's rhyming scheme is a very common one but the one of the Raven is very peculiar. ...read more.


This could have been a good technique that could have been added to the Erlking poem to make a part of the poem more prominent. The final factor I am going to consider is the length of the poems. The Raven is considerably longer than the Erlking. The Raven being 108 lines long compared to the Erlking which is a mere 32 lines long. The length of the Raven allows Poe to go into a lot of depth in his descriptions. However, this style of writing does not suit the Erlking as well. The reason for this is that the Erlking is meant to leave questions unanswered and a sense of mystery. If it had gone into the depth that the Raven did in its length, this would have been taken away. Over all, I can see that both poems are very individual but still contain some similarities. Both poets had very different inspirations of why they wrote their poem but they still had a very similar atmosphere that was created. They also use different linguistic techniques, although they create a very parallel effect. I can see that Edgar Allen Poe uses many more techniques in his poem than Goethe does, this may be because the Raven is longer and may have more room to use more effect without 'over-doing' them. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jennifer Johnson-Ashbey Poetry Coursework Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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