William Butler Yates Essay, Research Paper
In William Butler Yeats, we see a modern writer emerging from a society where religious faith, the notion of a common set of values, and the function of man are gone. Skepticism is prevalent, everything is doubted. We know that all of the events around him made him question a divine power, an afterlife, life in general, and the true purpose of life. We know that he had an obsession with a woman, Maud Gonne, who would deny him and marry another. He will propose to her daughter as well, a sense that he cannot lose. He has to have a part of the woman he has tried so hard to pursue. In Yeats Dialogue Between Soul and Self, we see him looking at the religious world around him and haunted by the fact that that secular world believes the award of Heaven to only be reached if man obeys God through his body, self, while here on earth. We see religious value starting to be strongly questioned, they are no longer the norm. It struck me that throughout the entire poem, even in the wording of the title, the self seems to be winning in Yeats mind. In Adam s Curse, Yeats is toiling over a love he has lost. We see that his notions of love are different than Romantic love. It is not a means of trancendance. The loss of love here goes hand in hand with the loss of valuing anything truly spiritual. He refers love to the moon. He says, A moon, worn as if it had been a shell, washed by time s waters as they rose and fell. We discussed in class that the moon, thus Yeats love, has become like as shell, there is no substance within. The substance, he goes on to tell us was once present, but over time and what I believe to be the waters of life, that love could not endure. He brings the moon on to stage and then empties all of the meaning out of it. This is truly an image of the loss of Romantic thinking. The things of society are replacing these values. The center could not hold, as we so often see. Just a few lines previous, with the mention of trade, we see him imply the fact that materialism was even corrupting love in this day. Materialism is one of those waters that are washing love away. The powers of the modern world are breaking down the virtues of man. At one point, we see Yeats create expectation in his reader through the title of his work, The Second Coming. We go on to see that Yeats is only playing on the second coming of Christ. The ideas of redemption that the title indicates will only be undermined in the work. We see he has no Romantic faith in innocence. He does not see man as inherently good and then corrupted by society. The landscape is only seen as an image of spiritual bareness. We know historically that Yeats write this in January, just before his first child in born in February. The child will change his life, he will love her. This is not, of course, romantic love. But we will see how he is concerned for her and the world in which he has helped to bring her into in A Prayer for My Daughter. In The Lady and the Swan Yeats will actually create a moment when the divine enters the body. The entire time we are reading of the moment we get a feeling of rape, the feeling that this spirituality is being forced on her. The same feeling that we will get in Mrs. Dalloway. So many people want to conform you. Spiritual beliefs are sometimes so forcefully presented to you. Lastly, rape is immediately seen as an act that is forced upon one person by another who does not truly love them. It is seen as anything but an act of love. I found we get a sense that no matter how horrible this may have been for her she still must have felt the spirituality of the moment. She still finds a hint of enjoyment in it as we sometimes hear a rape victim does in the terrible act that is forced upon them. In that case, there is often much shame involved, they are not supposed to enjoy it. But being human and in this body we are given, one sometimes does. Here Yeats is closer to the end of his life and is still toiling and possibly even yearning to believe it, he is different from the rape victim and that he feels shame in the fact that he truly can not. There is no love in any of these acts. In Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop we see love and spirituality intertwined. We see that the physical has to be there in order to experience transcendence, that same physical will die. Likewise, perfect love can only be experienced through the body. I included The Wild Swans at Coole because so often we see the swans as a symbol. They are a symbol of spiritual inspiration, and often a symbol of love. We get within them such a sense of loneliness; there is no love there. They are so impulsive, wild and caught up in the ways of the world. They have been corrupted as well and that sense of love and purity that this beautiful, white creature once had is gone. The spiritual inspiration is gone as well and once again we are left with once intertwined with the other and both essentially failing. Although he is born the century after Yeats, T.S. Elliot is once again a modernist poet and once again one that experienced unhappy love. In The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock we see Eliot looking at the artificial world around him that literary men always portray and the things of real life that truly do not matter. The title itself, in being labeled a love song, is a romantic clich . Through irony, he dismantles Romanticism. He shows us failed love. We have a true double vision. He sees himself surrounded by nothing but lusts and luxurious, no love and nothing with true values. He hates the everyday life of the large town and all of its pointlessness. The faint stale smells of beer , and the smoke and fog and mud in the city surround him and although we know that if it were present it would properly not be a source of redemption, there is no pure nature to speak of. The modern town has corrupted that as well. In T.S. Eliot by Georges Cattaui he speaks of the writers method in Prufrock. He says, Eliot combines a concern for order with a yearning for dream, and for the turbulence of ecstasy; he does not sought to break open the doors of the world beyond, nor to reveal the innermost secret of things. He introduced abstract thought into poetry and then combined it with immediate emotions which the poet provokes. I found this evident in these few lines; They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens. And along the trampled edges of the street I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids sprouting despondently at area gates. The brown waves of the fog toss up to me. Twisted faces from the bottom of the street, and tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts. An aimless smile that hovers in the air and vanishes along the level of the roofs. I got so much image and emotion from the above lines, all of which include darkness and gloom. The modern world is defined by spiritual absence. The damp souls of the housemaids show women with no love or fulfillment in their lives. Love in the work is never true or spiritual. They seem abandoned creatures with no real meaning or purpose. Unmistakably there is the reference to the soul and then to the aimless smile that vanishes along the level of the roofs, up to the sky and headed towards nowhere, presumably with nowhere above to head. One side of him is a victim and the other side of him is yearning to escape. The side that wants to escape is obviously his Romantic side, but he cannot get there. We see in this work an emotional, sexual, physical and social paralysis. He cannot move and thus neither does the work. Likewise, it moves nothing in us except for a sense of despair. There seems to be no spiritual hope, no love and no possibility of either. There is a constant negotiation between Prufrock the victim and Prufrock the frustrated Romantic. As I felt in Yeats, Although Eliot uses his own dramatic character, the work is very subjective. We do have the Romantic side of Prufrock who wants to escape but he begins by showing us that the Romantic escape is not possible. He begins with, Let us go now you and I . We wonder who the you is and feel that they may be able to go and escape, but then we are slammed into the setting of gloom that I just addressed above. We know that this is not at all a redemptive setting and that our character is caught in this world with no chance of escape. We see one night cheap hotels . Building representing lust, not love. There is an apparent moral issue in this promiscuity that is never addressed, without the spiritual foundation that is absent, it is not the likewise. No desire is fulfilled through the acts within except for that of the physical, not the emotional. He thinks of growing old. Sexual references go on, do I dare to eat a peach? He wonders if he will part his hair and look and behave as the typical old do. Then we get to a startling line about existence, that of measuring your life out in coffee spoons , the sense of waiting for death. We will be pulled back into reality by the human voices, the voices of corruption. The voices of the only world that is for certain for him, the world he is within. The world that is not a source of redemption and the world that is full of lust, the pleasures of the flesh. The source of what the secular world would call sin, yet a source of some degree of fulfillment. He cannot look on to the spiritual because he is not being fulfilled in the physical; it just does not seem possible. In the Wasteland we see this modern world portrayed by sterility and bareness. Conscience is fragmented in reality is distorted. There is a need for redemption, but hope seems distant and subtle. Love and Spirituality are constantly intertwined in the work. The Tempest, the romance involving a dead king, Dante s inferno, and an evocation of hell with the absence of spiritual redemption, and Tristan and Isodle, the story of failed love. The poem will leap and ask what the corpse will bloom. We have the sense that he does not feel it will, no hope of afterlife and no hope for love. If love does exist, it is too late, death has come. Those things that are blooming offer no redemptive sense. He sees April, the month of most growth, as the most scorned upon. Unlike the previous work we are suddenly surrounded by beauty, the perfect setting for love and spiritual trancendance. Instead, we see him refer to it as the most cruel . He says that this month creates lilacs, breeding out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull root and with spring rain. The land is dead; it seems to have no creature or nurturer. The root is a sign of growth and new life and the rain is the source to nurture and provide the essentials for the new growth. Still we have no feeling of new beginning and although we are speaking of such a beautiful flower, we have no sense of beauty. We feel that nothing of or within the earth can flourish no plant, no man, no love, and no aspect of spirituality. The world itself and the things of the world will not allow it. There seems no way for one thing to suffer so much and for another to be able to bloom. It does not seem possible to have romantic love without the basis of spiritual love. The two are intertwined and satisfaction and fulfillment in one Noritz the other. Here none are being nourished. One is not capable of providing a basis for the other, just as the dull root will not produce a blooming flower, nothing will flourish! In Wide Sargasso Sea by Rhys we see Rochester as a character that is betrayed by his family into a loveless marriage. Slavery is arguably the most cruel of all human practices. In most situations, it went against all issues of morality and spirituality. It involves one human placing himself far above another and impossing his beliefs and duties upon them. It is an act that is spiritually disobedient to the Bible, the main spiritual source of guidiance, in several ways. It is historically seen as a practice of hate. The story is set just after slavery and so many prejiduces are prelevalent. Hate is ramped in the world that Antoinette and Rochester are surrounded by, thus we…
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