In the poem ‘Rooms’, Charlotte Mew confronts traditional notions of mortality by exploring the idea of death as a liberation from the misery and dreariness of life. The poem appears to be divided into two parts that contrast with each other; the first half creates images of the persona’s desolation and feelings of being trapped in life, while the second half sets up the contrast by illustrating images that convey the sense of peace and freedom found in death. By juxtaposing these contrasts Mew aims to show that death can be viewed in a positive light as a transcendental experience which can provide a deep sense of fulfillment.
The persona’s life is represented through the images of ‘rooms’ (line 1) that the persona remembers. The rooms are depicted as ‘little’ (line 4) and ‘damp’, (line 4) with a ‘seaweed smell’ (line 4), which creates depressing images of discomfort and the desolation experienced by the persona. There is a ‘ceaseless maddening sound of the tide’ (line 5) the word ‘ceaseless’ (line 5) suggests a monotony to life and how the persona views his or her life as dreary – perhaps without a direction or purpose. Additionally, ‘rooms’ (line 1) are associated with the idea of walls being built, which conveys a sense of confinement, and restriction. While the different rooms represent places from the persona’s memory, they could also symbolize figurative walls that society constructs, i.e. conventions or societal expectations that restrict the persona’s freedom. These images and their associations develop the persona’s feelings of being trapped or constrained in these figurative ‘rooms’ (line 1) in a depressed state.
Furthermore, the persona’s misery appears to be associated with loneliness; the line, the rooms ‘have had their part, in the steady, slowing down of the heart’ (line 2) suggests the loss of love, which depicts the solitude felt by the persona. The persona appears to have travelled and stayed in rooms in Paris and Geneva –places that one...
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