McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Linda Circelli

Major and Classification

English

Faculty Mentor

  • Thomas Gustafson, Ph.D.

Department

  • English

McNair Project

Poe's "The Raven": A Sorrowful Moan Wedged between Literature and Psychology

Since scholars have written extensively about Edgar Allan Poe's most popular poem, "The Raven," why revisit it? While the connections between creativity and madness have been argued since Plato and Aristotle, recent studies in psychiatry, psychology, genomics, and neuroscience suggest more scientific links. In light of these findings, this study textually examines Poe's poem through a multidisciplinary approach of literature and psychology, which reveals his struggle with bipolar disorder. Because the disease is characterized by heightened perceptions, Poe's script is imbued with evocative language that poignantly captures the mental abyss of depression and provides insights into mental illness. Although modern civilizations boast of technological advances, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that "more than 20 million children and adults in the United States are affected by major depression or bipolar disorder." Considering such a high number of individuals affected, more strategies are needed to ameliorate the sorrowful moans of madness. Perhaps, creative writers like Poe can lead us by the hand into a more enlightened perspective.