As it relates to theories of literary criticism, French poet Charles Baudelaire’s “Hymn to Beauty” cannot be compared to just one analytical doctrine. Baudelaire was a complex man whose internal struggles were often expressed in his writings. Embodying themes of sensuality, wonton abandon, and death and redemption, the poem “Hymn to Beauty” must be analyzed using both gender and psychological criticisms. “Gender criticism examines how the sexual identity influences the creation and reception of literacy works” (Kennedy 1526). To consider this theory and understand the conflicting imagery and tormented ideas French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote about in “Hymn to Beauty” it is helpful to understand Baudelaire’s background. Baudelaire’s father passed away when Baudelaire was only seven and his mother eventually remarried. After his father’s death, the poet developed, “…a close and complex relationship with his mother, so close that it dominated (his) life” (Charles 2). According to Dr. Sigmund Freud, a leading theorist on psychosexual development, a male child’s relationship with his mother has a well-documented influence on his sexual identity. Commonly known as the Oedipus Complex, it is a formative stage in each individual's psychosexual development, when the young child transfers his love object from the breast (the oral phase) to the mother. At this time, the child desires the mother and resents (even secretly desires the murder) of the father. (The Oedipus complex is closely connected to the castration complex.) Such primal desires are, of course, quickly repressed but, even among the mentally sane, they will arise again in dreams or in literature. Among those individuals who do not progress properly into the genital phase, the Oedipus Complex, according to Freud, can still be playing out its psychodrama in various displaced, abnormal, and/or exaggerated ways (Oedipus). Rather than just a theory, Baudelaire himself provides insight into his personal...
Cited: “Charles Baudelaire.” Wikipedia, _The Free Encylopedia_. 23 Jan. 2009, 11:20 UTC. 27 Jan. 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Baudelaire. “Fleurs du mal/Flowers of Evil – 1857 Edition.” Fleursdumal.org. 2009. Supervert. 29 Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 5th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. “Oedipus Complex.” Purdue University. NP/ND. 29 Jan. 2009 http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/oedipus.html. yHy
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