“To The Reader” Analysis
The never-ending circle of continuous sin and fallacious repentance envelops the poem “To the Reader” by Baudelaire. The beginning of this poem discusses the incessant dark vices of mankind which eclipse any attempt at true redemption. As the poem progresses, the dreariness becomes heavier by mentioning the Devil and demons, and how Hell is the final stop of everyone’s journey. The ending stanza says the most dangerous of all actions is boredom. This proposition that boredom is the most unruly thing one can do insinuates that Baudelaire views boredom as a gate way to all horrible things a person can do. The first thing one reads is the title, “To the Reader.” With this, Baudelaire is not just singling out any individuals or a certain group of people. “Folly, error, sin and parsimony,” (1) everyone possesses these vices, and that is who Baudelaire is addressing. A religious aspect is introduced in lines 5 through 7 stating that although we repent and confess, our sins are obstinate and our repentance feeble because soon after we are back to our wicked ways. Many religions, such as Christianity and Islam, believe that there is a joyous afterlife for those who have led a righteous lifestyle and have atoned for their sins. However, Baudelaire dismantles this comfort by implying that we repent because we “Believ[e] our base tears can wash away the stains [our sins]” (8). Even with the hint of a religious tone, Baudelaire is still talking to those without a religious affiliation, for no one is perfect and has not apologized for an act they were not sorry they committed. In class, it was argued that this poem is not actually a religious work because it has no hope and that it is, in fact, just about human nature; I believe it is about both. It is human nature to express regret towards those we have wronged, whether Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or any other denomination. However, those with a religious affiliation are hypocrites;...
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