The Characterization of Christabel
Critics from around the world have put insight into the many ways that “[t]he lovely lady, Christabel” can be characterized (Coleridge 23). Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses many words to describe Christabel, but with literary analysis of “Christabel,” provided by scholars, she can be characterized at a deeper level than the way she is described in the text of the poem. Her description plays role in allowing the reader to relate with her quickly and be able to learn more about Christabel as the poem continues. Deeper meaning to her characterization is portrayed throughout the plot of the poem as she is entranced and deceived by Geraldine. Even though the poem is incomplete, a thorough understanding of Christabel’s character can be derived from what Coleridge has completed. The characterization of Christabel is explained through Christianity, “the fall of innocence” and purity (Radley 69), and “the transition from “innocence” to “experience” (Harding 40).”
Christianity plays a major role throughout the poem to characterize Christabel. “Christabel herself personifies moral innocence.” She “appears well-intentioned, virginal, and naïve” (Ulmer 378). These qualities go along with those of a Christian who has not been exposed to sin and still has purity. “Christabel is repeatedly characterized “as a sinless child… “Christabel suffers innocently, like Christ [;]” her “beauty has a particular innocence about it, being associated with the beauty of Christ” (qtd. in Ulmer 378). Christabel is seen as pure and sinless on the surface, but as the poem continues the perception of her innocence shifts toward her permitting sin to come into her life. “Cooper contends that “physical evil, no matter how supernatural its source, cannot touch Christabel’s soul unless she consents to it”” (qtd. in Ulmer 379). At the oak tree Geraldine deceives Christabel and causes her to question her faith and give in to sin. Ulmer reports that...
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