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Conflict was Irony and the Poetry of the First World War traces one of the major features of war poetry from the author's application as a means of disguise, criticism or psychological therapy to its perception and interpretation by the reader. Toggle navigation.

Coleridge, Language and the Sublime

New to eBooks. Literary Criticism Poetry Poetry titles from eBooks. Filter Results. Last 30 days. Last 90 days. All time. English Only. Palgrave Macmillan Never till now she utter d Yell Beneath the eye of Christabel. The lack of conviction in the narrator enhances the mystery of the poem, as even the narrator who should know more than the reader , is unsure what is causing the dog to bark. Without an adequate explanation, the barking dog becomes obscure, meaning its cause is hidden from the senses.

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In this situation, the mind begins to explore new reasons for the barking. These possibilities are infinite, a key component of Burke s sublime and Coleridge s Gothic. Coleridge noted that the Gothic mind derived satisfaction from what which was indistinct. Throughout the poem, the narrator frequently interjects with expressions of fear. There are numerous question and exclamation marks in Christabel, and each one contributes to the poem s sublimity. These forms of punctuation allow the narrator to express the reactions of a Gothic mind to a Gothic work of art that is, the poem itself.

As the narrator tells the story, he experiences the sublime feelings of infinite uncertainty represented by the question marks and overwhelming terror designated by exclamation marks , to which the Gothic mind naturally gravitated. There are many moments when the narrator breaks off from telling the story in order to pray for the divine protection of Christabel. The first such instance occurs early in the poem. When Christabel is looking around the oak tree, but before she sees Geraldine, the narrator exclaims: Jesu Maria, shield her well!

The narrator does not yet know what is behind the tree, but as a Gothic character, his mind is stimulated by the indistinct. At line , the narrator repeats this prayer when Geraldine look d askance at Christabel l. Although he makes it clear that Christabel is in danger, the narrator cannot articulate what exactly the danger is.

The situation is terrifying precisely because it is unknown. To use Burke s words, the danger is obscure: when we know the full extent of any danger, when we can accustom our eyes to it, a great deal of the apprehension vanishes The reader never discovers the nature of the danger, but the narrator s sudden outbursts prompt the reader to believe that the threat is serious. According to Burke, in every thing sudden and unexpected, we are apt to start; that is, we have a perception of danger, and our nature rouses us to guard against it As a result, the reader feels a sense of Gothic terror similar to that of the narrator.

Karen Swann argues that by the end of Part II, the narrator is overmastered by the story and is forced to abandon an authoritative point of view and fall into the story s present. A crucial event in the poem is Sir Leoline s refusal to sympathize with his daughter, Christabel.

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This moment shocks the narrator and leads to the breakdown of his mind. And would st thou wrong thy only Child ll , In this moment, the narrator is not only describing a terrifying situation for the reader, he is also trying to intervene and save Christabel. The narrator is no longer content to be a passive spectator, he seeks to become an active participant.

His reasons for desiring a role in the story relate to Burke s concept of sympathy. According to Burke s model, the narrator, like all people, takes a certain delight in observing the miseries of others. Hence, he continues to tell the story even though he is horrified by its content. The narrator, however, cannot remain impartial in the face of such suffering. Through the passion of sympathy, he feels the same pain as Christabel, which compels him to try to help her in order to alleviate his own pain. The narrator s entreaty to Sir Leoline, however, proves fruitless. Failing to influence the course of his story, the narrator is overwhelmed by it.

After his failed plea, the narrator no longer expresses concern for Christabel.


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Instead, in the conclusion to Part II, he offers an explanation for a father s anger toward a child ll. This shift from shock to explanation suggests that the events in the story are too vast for the narrator s mind, and they result in his sense of self which previously included fearing for Christabel s safety being destroyed. In this moment, when the sublimity of the story stimulates the narrator s mind past the breaking point, the poem reveals how the Gothic mind reacts to sublime objects and the limits of what the Gothic mind can process.

As with Richardson s neural sublime, only by breaking the mind can we understand it. Yet the experience of excessive stimulation is not limited to the narrator. As mentioned earlier, all the narrator s passions are transferred to the reader. In the Advertisement for the edition of the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth described the poems as experiments. Although sublime terror appears throughout the poem, the primary source of the sublime in Christabel is Geraldine. Geraldine s character is mysterious, and critics have posited numerous theories to explain her. For Leadbetter, Christabel is not an innocent victim; rather, she actively searches for Geraldine because she is fascinated by the daemonic knowledge offered by Geraldine.

Leadbetter, however, views this process as empowering the mind and leading to new knowledge, while Burke and Coleridge interpreted the sublime object as overwhelming mind and destroying the self. The reactions of Christabel, the narrator, and Sir Leoline suggest that rather than the daemonic imagination, Geraldine is the personification of the sublime.

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In the context of Burke s sublime and Coleridge s Gothic, Christabel is drawn to Geraldine not because she desires new knowledge, but because her Gothic mind is naturally attracted to and stimulated by sublime objects like Geraldine. The key moment of sublimity in the poem is the night that Christabel spends with Geraldine, but before the two women reach Christabel s bedroom the narrator is already evoking the sublime when describing both the setting and Geraldine.

The journey to Christabel s bedroom has all the features of obscurity and the Gothic aesthetic. The two women walk Now in Glimmer, and now in Gloom l. With these lines, Coleridge creates an obscure atmosphere and feeling of unease. Christabel has not yet lost herself to the sublime Geraldine, but her eyes are already struggling to behold anything beyond Geraldine s eyes. Once Christabel and Geraldine are inside the bedroom, the narrator continues to react to Geraldine as though she were a sublime object.

When Geraldine appears to be speaking to the spirit of Christabel s dead mother, the narrator wonders: what ails poor Geraldine? The narrator cannot understand Geraldine s behavior and is forced to consider a supernatural explanation, which is beyond human comprehension, terrifying, and 40 See Ward, Coleridge and the Nature of Imagination, ; Ulmer, Christabel and the Origin of Evil, Leadbetter, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination, Ibid. According to Burke, the obscurity of night adds to our dread, in all cases of danger, and how much the notions of ghosts and goblins, of which none can form clear ideas, affect minds, which give credit to the popular tales concerning such sorts of beings After Geraldine undresses, the narrator conveys the horror of seeing Geraldine s naked body: Behold!

The sight of Geraldine s body is so shocking that the narrator cannot even describe it. All he can say is that her body is beyond words. Eventually, the narrator will become overwhelmed by the sublimity of the story itself, but here, at the midpoint, Geraldine s sublime body is already causing him to struggle to perform his duties as a narrator.

Geraldine appears to be beyond the limits of human language. One can experience her, but not describe her. As with Christabel, the Gothic narrator is fascinated by the sublime Geraldine. Geraldine and her actions cause some of the strongest emotional responses in the narrator, yet he is never sure exactly what she is or what she is doing.

The unknown quality of Geraldine enhances her sublimity. According to Burke, it is our ignorance of things that causes all our admiration, and chiefly excites our passions 47 The sublime Geraldine excites the passions of the narrator to such a degree that he has difficulties relating information regarding Geraldine to the reader. Owing to the mysterious nature of Geraldine and his own overwhelming emotions, the narrator does not articulate what happens to Christabel during her night with Geraldine.

His comments, however, suggest that Christabel has been transformed in a dramatic and terrifying way: O Sorrow and Shame! In this process, Christabel s sense of self is obliterated and she bears the imprint of Geraldine. Christabel s experience illustrates the mind being overpowered by a sublime object.

Although the narrator does not explain how Geraldine consumes Christabel, this process occurs through the sensation of touch. Ward notes that touch, for Coleridge, was a crucial sense as it was connected to the inward self. This spell is not a form of witchcraft, but the sublime nature of Geraldine. The contact between the two women becomes an allegory for the sublime itself.

Just as Coleridge experiences self-annihilation when he gazes on Gothic architecture, so too does Christabel when Geraldine touches her. Christabel s subsequent behavior further suggests the sublimity of Geraldine. As Christabel comes out of her trace, the narrator notes her physiological response: Her 43 Taylor, Coleridge s Christabel and the Phantom Soul, For a discussion of Coleridge s theory of touch see Ward, Coleridge and the Nature of Imagination,.

After the intense stimulation that was brought on by the sublime touch of Geraldine passes, Christabel s body and mind are able to relax. Her emotional state is mixed, as she doth smile, and she doth weep l. Even the horrified narrator acknowledges that she hath a Vision sweet l. These varied reactions are another component of Burke s sublime. These comments suggest that Geradline is in a state of misery. Christabel, according to Burke, is naturally attracted to the miseries of others, and experiences delight in learning their details.

This positive feeling, however, is not an unmixed delight, but blended with no small uneasiness Consequently, Christabel s sublime moment with Geraldine causes both delight and pain. By focusing on the senses of sight and touch, the poem again recalls Bruke s sublime, as the sight and touch of Geraldine s bosom overwhelm Christabel. Geraldine is such a powerful image that Christabel cannot think, and cannot see anything but Geraldine.

This experience is identical to Burke s sublime and Coleridge s Gothic, as the subject Christabel loses herself in the object Geraldine. As in Burke s A Philosophical Enquiry, the sublime in Christabel overpowers the individual and causes the mind to be so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other Christabel is incapable of describing and comprehending the sublime Geraldine and ultimately becomes, to use Coleridge s words, part of the work being contemplated. Simply by looking at Geraldine s face, Sir Leoline loses his reason and is overcome with emotion.

Unable to access the reason that accompanies his age, he is now driven by youthful passion and subject to Geraldine s will. His exposure to Geraldine, however, still results in the suppression of reason and the stimulation of his passions. All the characters in the poem are subject to Geraldine s sublimity, unable to fit so sublime an object within their minds. Perhaps the most sublime aspect of Christabel is the fact that it is unfinished. Critics have posited numerous explanations for Coleridge s inability to complete the poem. Burke notes: In unfinished sketches of drawing, I have seen something which pleased me beyond the best finishing Unfinished objects are sublime because the imagination is entertained with the promise of something more, and does not acquiesce in the present object of sense Lacking completion, an unfinished poem, such as Christabel, becomes infinite.

It is not restricted the words on the page, but expands into the reader s imagination, capable to taking on any form. Coleridge described the sense of satisfaction when beholding infinity, and linked it to the Gothic art of the Middle Ages. The Gothic mind, according to Coleridge, has a tendency toward the infinite, so that he found rest in that which presented no end.

Whether or not Coleridge published Christabel as a fragment explicitly for the purpose of enhancing its sublimity is impossible to say. What is certain is that in its current form, Christabel is a poem of infinite possibilities that requires the reader to adopt the Gothic mindset in order to appreciate the poem s infinity.? Through the Burkean sublime, Coleridge displays the Gothic mind functioning in a Gothic setting in Christabel.

Burke s theory of the sublime is capable of explaining the narrator s and other characters reactions without resorting to psychoanalysis. Like the other poems in the Lyrical Ballads, Christabel explores the natural state of the passions and human mind, which Coleridge believed lay in the Gothic world. Although the poem is narrative, the narrator creates a sense of uncertainty and terror by failing to provide any explanation for the poem s events.

By the end of the second part of Christabel, the narrator can no longer tell his story, as he has been absorbed by it. All the characters, including the narrator, who come into contact with Geraldine experience intense physiological reactions, as their senses are overwhelmed and their reason is suppressed. The unfinished quality of the poem enhances the feeling of infinity, as it perpetually promises something more to come.

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All of these sensations fit within Burke s framework of the sublime and Coleridge s interpretation of the Gothic, as Coleridge believed that the Gothic mind operated according to the principles of the Burkean sublime. Coleridge, however, not only illustrates the workings of the Gothic mind, he also invites the reader 46 See, for example, Ulmer, Christabel and the Origin of Evil, , and Hogle, Christabel as Gothic, Coleridge, General Character of the Gothic Literature and Art, Christabel is a Gothic poem, and only a Gothic mind can experience the maximum stimulation from such a poem.

By pushing the reader toward a Gothic mentality, Coleridge enables the reader to have the same sensation as he did when entering at a Gothic cathedral. Coleridge admired the Gothic world and viewed it as England s true cultural ancestor. Christabel is part of Coleridge s effort to revive the Gothic mind in his contemporaries by appealing to the natural, sublime passions that lay buried within them.

Chapter The Sublime. Introduction and Notes on the Translation of Kant s Observations. A New Concept of Beauty Neoclassicist school- Beauty as quality of the object that we perceive as beautiful. The Romantic Age: historical background The age of revolutions historical, social, artistic American revolution: American War of Independence and Declaration of Independence from British rule.

A castle, ruined or in tack, haunted or not ruined buildings which are sinister or which arouse a pleasing melancholy, dungeons,. Then use your notes to complete the assignments for Part 2 and 3 on. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki Now there are two fundamental practical problems which have constituted the center of attention of reflective social practice. Epistemological position of G. F Hegel In his epistemology Hegel discusses four sources of knowledge. He was. Chapter 5 Essays in English Preface to Lyrical Ballads William Wordsworth Sehjae Chun Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Some argue that photographic and cinematic images are transparent ; we see objects through. The character who struggles or fights against the protagonist. Plays on the Passions Edition. Edited by Peter Duthie, Broadview Press, London: Longman, Brooks, Peter. Yale UP, Byron, George Gordon, Lord. The Complete Poetical Works. Edited by Jerome J. McGann, Clarendon Press, Manfred: A Dramatic Poem. Cheeke, Stephen. Byron and Place: History, Translation, Nostalgia. Palgrave Macmillan, Cochran, Peter. Cambridge Scholars, Cox, Jeffrey N.

Cambridge UP, Eilenberg, Susan. Oxford UP, Gamer, Michael. McGann, Jerome. Martin, Philip. Byron: A Poet before His Public. Morton, Timothy. Mulholland, James. The Johns Hopkins UP, Nuss, Melynda.