Samuel taylor coleridge kubla khan essay

Coleridge's early intellectual debts, besides German idealists like Kant and critics like Lessing, were first to William Godwin 's Political Justice , especially during his Pantisocratic period, and to David Hartley 's Observations on Man , which is the source of the psychology which is found in Frost at Midnight . Hartley argued that one becomes aware of sensory events as impressions, and that "ideas" are derived by noticing similarities and differences between impressions and then by naming them. Connections resulting from the coincidence of impressions create linkages, so that the occurrence of one impression triggers those links and calls up the memory of those ideas with which it is associated (See Dorothy Emmet, "Coleridge and Philosophy").

Coleridge explores dreams and dreaming in his poetry to communicate the power of the imagination, as well as the inaccessible clarity of vision. “Kubla Khan” is subtitled “A Vision in a Dream.” According to Coleridge, he fell asleep while reading and dreamed of a marvelous pleasure palace for the next few hours. Upon awakening, he began transcribing the dream-vision but was soon called away; when he returned, he wrote out the fragments that now comprise “Kubla Khan.” Some critics doubt Coleridge’s story, attributing it to an attempt at increasing the poem’s dramatic effect. Nevertheless, the poem speaks to the imaginative possibilities of the subconscious. Dreams usually have a pleasurable connotation, as in “Frost at Midnight.” There, the speaker, lonely and insomniac as a child at boarding school, comforts himself by imagining and then dreaming of his rural home. In his real life, however, Coleridge suffered from nightmares so terrible that sometimes his own screams would wake him, a phenomenon he details in “The Pains of Sleep.” Opium probably gave Coleridge a sense of well-being that allowed him to sleep without the threat of nightmares.

As I was saying:
“Anne Sharp, the governess of Jane’s niece,…separated by the mighty class divide”
The complication was that governesses were anomalies in the nineteenth century class system. They weren’t properly separated by the class divide. If they were to teach the family’s children, they must be educated, yet they were paid servants. They were usually “gentlefolk”, or at least respectable and middle-class by birth, but were dependent employees, liable to dismissal. They might be seduced by their male employers or their relatives or they might seduce them. They might even be like Jane Eyre and marry their employer or be like the real-life Sarah Lawrence (herself probably the bastard of a servant and her employer’s son), who eloped from Ireland with the married Sir Thomas Chapman and set up as man-and-wife in England.

The complexity of Wordsworth and Coleridge's theoretical ideas leads to the complexity of their poetry. It is impossible to name one form of criticism that could sum them up entirely, because ultimately they are working with a large number of weighty concepts. This is why their poetry is still read and analyzed. Since Aristotle claimed in his Poetics that the complexity of a work is directly proportional to the greatness of the work, we have sought out literature that withstands multiple intense readings. Because we can look at the poems of Coleridge and Wordsworth in a large variety of ways, we are constantly finding new meaning, which gives the poetry a re-readability not found in lesser work. Re-readability is the hallmark of good literature and of the sublime. Coleridge and Wordsworth knew this, and they wrote toward that goal.

Samuel taylor coleridge kubla khan essay

samuel taylor coleridge kubla khan essay

The complexity of Wordsworth and Coleridge's theoretical ideas leads to the complexity of their poetry. It is impossible to name one form of criticism that could sum them up entirely, because ultimately they are working with a large number of weighty concepts. This is why their poetry is still read and analyzed. Since Aristotle claimed in his Poetics that the complexity of a work is directly proportional to the greatness of the work, we have sought out literature that withstands multiple intense readings. Because we can look at the poems of Coleridge and Wordsworth in a large variety of ways, we are constantly finding new meaning, which gives the poetry a re-readability not found in lesser work. Re-readability is the hallmark of good literature and of the sublime. Coleridge and Wordsworth knew this, and they wrote toward that goal.

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