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Symbols in Sons and Lovers

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Symbols in Sons and Lovers

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Supernaturalism is an outstanding romantic quality. It gives certain poems an eerie atmosphere by virtue of which the romantic poetry is often called the “renaissance of wonder”. Coleridge (1772-1834) is one of the greatest of romantic poets who touched lightly on all the keys of poetic expression, but he remains unequaled in one sphere of poetry – that is supernatural. Before Coleridge supernatural element had applied in English literature (apart from drama) in the works of Horace Walpole, Mrs. Ann Radcliff and Monk Lewis. While planning a new volume of poems to be jointly written by Wordsworth and Coleridge, Coleridge undertook to deal with the supernatural. As he himself tells us in “Biographia Literaria” (1817): “It was agreed that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadow of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith”. Coleridge in his masterpieces like ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘Christabel’ has shown his unrivalled mastery in his treatment of supernaturalism. He has created the atmosphere with his ruthless exclusion of crudity and sole reliance on subtle suggestive means. The remark that “the thing attempted in Christabel is the most delightful in the whole field of romance: Wicker by daylight” – indicates the peculiar quality of the supernatural element in the poem. Now let us see how far Coleridge’s ‘Christabel’ is imbued with supernatural element.

‘Christabel’ is a graceful recreation of the medieval world of fantasy, magic and marvel. Here Coleridge does not attach to the supernatural to anything concrete and definite rather by hinting invites the supernatural with the air of suggestion and indefiniteness which not only strikes the readers for its failure, but it suggests eeriness of a...

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