Chisritabel And Its Endless Struggle Essay, Research Paper
Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a poem that preciousitself of being ambiguous. This is because, apparently, its authorhad conceived it as a larger poem and said to have the completeplot in mind. However at some point he gave up his idea ofwriting it complete and published the first two parts. Thehighlights of these two parts is what I pretend to comment on inthe following text. The thing that called my attention the most about thepoem is its vivid, if somewhat dark, imagery. At the beginning ofthe poem we see Christabel, the daughter of Sir Leoline, master ofthe castle, wandering near the woods, praying for her lover swelfare. The night is chilly and the owls awake the cock (in aninversion of natural behavior, where it is usually the cock whoawakens others). An in this way the mood is created and we areintroduced to Christabel, we know that for sure somethingextraordinary is going to happen, the strange setting has hintedthat for us. And that is correct, while praying Christabel hears amoan as near can be and soon dicovers a beautiful lady indistress that begs for her help, the lady introduces herself asGeraldine. Again in this part of the poem, Coleridge s imagery ismarvellous, when painting the portrait of the beautiful pale ladywho is barefoot and with jewels in her hair. Gerladine tellsChristabel her story, she was abducted from her home by fivewarriors who brought her to the oak tree and then left her,vowing to return. Christabel being an innocent girl believes herand helps her. She offers to take her to the castle with her. At theentrance Geraldine falls down and must be lifted over thedoorstep, but strangely, after entering the house she is able towalk noramlly, as she were not in pain . This is the first hint ofGerladine s true nature, evil spirits (we never know for surewhether she is a witch, a demon or what is most commonlyassumed, a vampire) cannot pass on their own through a doorwayof where the blessed live, the must be aided by the innocent.During the next paragraphs we start to notice some other hints,perhaphs more powerful, for example Geraldine s weak excuse fornot praying to the Virgin with Christabel to thank her for beingsafe, that of the watchdog not barking at her as he should in frontof a stranger, or that of the ashes in the fireplace suddenlyflaming up as Geraldine passes by. The next scene occurs inChristabel s room, where they both undress for sleep. There theytalk of Christabel s mother, who died in chilbirth, and Christabelconfides how much she trusts in her mother s protection.Afterwards they lay down in bed and Christabel founds herself inGerladine s arms. As she sleeps, Geraldine says a kind of a spell andin this way, turns Christabel s mother s protection away from her.This is the end of the first part and where the reader finally seeshis suspects of Geraldine being an evil being confirmed, it isfollowed by a conclusion by the author resuming Christabel sdifficult position but at the same time giving us hope, as he saysthat saints will aid if men will call .
The second part begins the next morning. Geraldine andChristabel rise and dress. But Christabel is feeling somewhatstrange, as if she could percieve something strange coming formGeraldine, she feels as if she had sinned. Sinned how, we can onlyimagine. Still, she takes Geraldine to visit her father, Sir Leoline. Tohim, Geraldine introduces herself as the daughter of Lord Rolandde Vaux of Tryermaine. The name brings Sir Leoline back manymemories, Lord Roland had been his best friend in youth, butwhispering tongues can poison truth and they had separated.But whatever had seemed so unforgetable in youth looses itsimportance in the middle age, or so I think, because Sir Leolinelloks back at the story not bitterly, more like with regret, for hesays that he could never find a friend like Lord Roland. Of course,all this leads Sir Leoline to be inmediately fond with Geraldine, thedaughter of his long lost friend. Geraldine also plays her part andembraces and kisses Sir Leoline, in front of the bewildered eyes ofChristabel. Terribly moved, Sir Leoline asks bard Bracy to go toLord Roland s castle and invite him to his castle. Bard Bracy s replyis my favorite part of the poem, and it brings what for me is themost powerful and clear imagery of the poem. He replies thatthough he is fathful to him and in other moment would gladlycarry out his wish he is incapable of doing so at that moment forhe had a dream that wouldn t let him go in peace. And then heproceeds to relate his dream -or vision- of a dove (Christabel)threatened by a bright green snake (Gerladine) that coiled aroundthe dove s wings and neck. As I mentioned before, this passage ispainted marvelously and moreover, it represents what has beendeveloping between Christabel and Gerladine. Sir Leoline, nowtotally bewitched by Geraldine doesn t really pay attention towhat bard Barcy says, instead he turns to Gerladine and thinkingshe s the dove of the story promises with the help of her fatherto kill the snake . Seeing Gerladine s influence over her fatherChristabel asks that the guest be sent to her home at once. But SirLeoline is totally captivated by Gerladine and his daughter s wordsonly achieve to wake up his fury and answers angrily to her.Christabel cannot do anything, cannot try to explain her fears toher father, in part because surley he would not be able tounderstand them -as bewitched as he is- and in part becauseGeraldine s spell over her tongue. She cannot then ask for thehelp that gave us hope in the conclusion of the first part. Thesecond part ends with the poet s meditation about the irrationalanger of a parent toward an innocent child. And in this way the poem ends. What happened next, herethe story might have led if Coleridge had finished it is somethingleft for the readers imagination. But what was indeed written isindeed enough for us to have an insight of Coleridge s thoughts.The duality among Christabel and Geraldine is something reallyspecial transmited in the poem, two ladies with much in commonyet one is totally pure, the other is totally evil, which leades thereader s mind, or at least mine, to endless speculations. Did thepure won over the evil? Did the evil won over the pure? Or arethey still in endless struggle?