Cultural depictions of ravens  

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In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy very loosely based on the poem The Raven
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In 1963, Roger Corman directed The Raven, a horror-comedy very loosely based on the poem The Raven

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

There are many references to ravens in legends and literature. Most of these refer to the widespread common raven. Because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, the raven has long been considered a bird of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends.

French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss proposed a structuralist theory that suggests the raven (like the coyote) obtained mythic status because it was a mediator animal between life and death. As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In Sweden they are known as the ghosts of murdered persons.

Modern literature

The raven is often depicted in the literature of the Western Canon. William Shakespeare refers to the raven more often than to any other bird; works such as Othello and Macbeth provide examples. In Charles Dickens' novel Barnaby Rudge, the raven "Grip" is an important character. The raven is used as a supernatural messenger in Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven". In this and in Dickens' book, the bird's power of speech is important. In other works of literature, Christopher Marlowe's play The Jew of Malta and Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the raven's darkly ominous image is also employed. In The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Roäc son of Carc is the leader of the Ravens of the Lonely Mountain.

In the well-known ballad The Three Ravens, a slain knight is depicted from the point of view of ravens who seek to eat him but are prevented by his loyal hawks, hounds and leman (lover).

The first name "Bram" is derived from a convergence of two separate etymological sources, one being an abbreviation of "Abraham", but the other being the Gaelic word "bran", meaning "raven".

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