Week 8 notes- Coleridge and Browning
Week 8 notes- Coleridge and Browning ENG 2301
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Fretheim on Sunday October 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 2301 at Baylor University taught by Rachel Lee Webster in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 14 views.
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Date Created: 10/16/16
Romantics and Victorian period- Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Browning More notes on Coleridge - 2 of his most famous poems were “Kubla Khan” and “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” - “Kubla Khan” tends to be more popular among literary types while “Ancient mariner” is more well-known among the general population. “Kubla Khan” - Coleridge wrote an opening section to this poem which was not there when the poem was first published. The poem is often printed without it. The opening section tells the background story of Coleridge writing down this poem, although it is unclear if this tale is true or not. o “The author” had taken opium and fell asleep right as he was reading a sentence about Kubla Khan. He then had an elaborate dream about Kubla Khan which he remembered after he woke up. As he was writing the dream down, he was interrupted by a visitor which delayed him. Once he was able to write again, he realized that he did not remember the dream nearly as clearly as before. - There is a transition to a different vision after “a sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice” o He can’t remember the damsel’s song and what happened in that vision because he was interrupted - Is the poem complete? o The way it leaves off adds to the quality of the poem. He captures the problem we have of not being able to fully describe a dream - “Holy and enchanted-” positive spiritual elements and negative supernatural elements are opposing forces in the pleasure dome o There is a sense of foreboding and dread with demonic supernatural elements- the dreams have a nightmarish quality o Kubla Khan is not a good person but has created a good place. (He may be saying that there is beauty in things that are corrupt.) o This could be pointing out that there are both supernatural and natural forces that are in our lives. - What does the last line, “Drunk the milk of paradise” mean? o Be careful about trusting things that are beautiful, they may have a dark side - What are we supposed to get out of this poem? o How imagination and nature are linked- that imagination should be inspired by nature o He inspires us to complete the vision in our own way and encourages us to think about nature o We are supposed to be left with a sense of mystery which is one reason why the poem is popular - How does this poem reflect the elements of romantic poetry? o Nature o The supernatural is present along with nature “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” - What is the mariner? o He has been wandering for a very long time and is much older than most. o He is “life in death” like a zombie or a vampire, not dead but not entirely living. o He has to tell his story as penance for his act. - The wedding guest is forced to listen as if hypnotized or mesmerized by the mariner. - The mariner only tells his story to those who need to hear it to learn a lesson. - Why did he kill the Albatross? o He killed the albatross for no reason. Killing a part of nature for no reason is a crime against nature itself. o The life of the bird did not matter to him. - Why was the crew sentenced to death? o They were upset at first, but after the fog cleared, they praised him for killing the bird. This shows that they have a fickle concern for nature. o They still die but are not punished as badly as the mariner, who committed the crime. - Why such consequences? o He is doomed by both nature and supernatural elements- some sort of “god” has determined his fate o Coleridge seems to be saying that there should be serious consequences for crimes against nature. o It could be because there are naturally always consequences for harming nature. - The mariner’s inability to pray o The romantics believed that nature gets us to God. Because the mariner did not value nature, he is unable to communicate with God. o Once the mariner honors nature, he is able to pray again. The Victorian period: - Queen Victoria’s reign led to the rise of an empire. - There was a growing middle class which was now distinct from the poor and faced with the issue of helping the poor. - There were questions about the role of women. o This was particularly a question for middle and high class women as lower class women had no choice but to work. Upper class women on the other hand, did not have much to do other than be at home and learn things such as music and knitting. o In the home vs. outside the home o Questions of what women were allowed to do now- Could they own property? Get a divorce? Be involved in politics? Robert Browning: - He and his wife Elizabeth are both well-known poets. o Elizabeth was the more famous of the two. o She was one of 12 children and her father disowned his children when they got married. o Robert read her poetry and fell in love with her. They started writing each other and ended up getting married. o Their child was an artist - Robert tried to write plays but was not very successful. - He later developed the dramatic monologue. o They are usually speeches about a very specific situation at a particular moment. o His dramatic monologues were often dark and disturbing. o The speaker in his poems is never him. “Porphyria’s Lover” - We are essentially getting into the mind of a psychopath. - According to the speaker, Porphyria enters the cottage and sits with him but he is resisting her. She tells him she loves him, but they are of different social classes so they cannot be together. - He kills her by strangling her with her own hair so she can stay there with him. - How much of what the speaker says can we trust? o We don’t know what she really said to him. She could be leaving, rejecting him, or have another lover. We only know what the killer tells us. o We don’t know who Porphyria really was. She may not have been a lover but could have even been a maid. - Does the speaker love her? o It may have been more of obsession than love. (The way he messes with her body) o He killed her so…. probably not real love - The speaker says that if his actions were wrong, God would have done something. But that is not how it works. “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” - The speaker is saying lots of hateful things about another monk named brother Lawrence. Because he hates brother Lawrence so much, pretty much anything he does is annoying. - Things the speaker hates about brother Lawrence in the first six stanzas: o Stanza 1- How he waters his plants o Stanza 2- The things he talks about at the table- the weather and what things are called o Stanza 3- The way he washes his dishes- he takes too much pride in keeping them clean o Stanza 4- He apparently watches women from the convent and is filled with lust But the line “if he let it show” is added so we don’t know that brother Lawrence was really doing this o Stanza 5- The way he lays his knife and fork down and drinks his drink in one gulp- the speaker does these things in specific ways to show his faith o Stanza 6- The fact that he is growing melons to share with everyone- the speaker has been cutting the melons so they do not grow - In the last three stanzas, the speaker is trying to get brother Lawrence to be sent to hell o Stanza 7- He wants brother Lawrence to commit a sin that will send him straight to hell right before he dies so he cannot have penance. o Stanza 8- He wants to get brother Lawrence to read the worst part of his French novel. This indicates a problem with the speaker as he owns this novel and knows which page is the worst. o Stanza 9- The speaker considers making a pact with Satan to take brother Lawrence’s soul. He believes he can somehow do this in a way that spare his own soul. - Why does the speaker really hate brother Lawrence? o It could be jealousy because brother Lawrence is a good monk and the speaker is not. o Brother Lawrence is presented as having a good nature, while the speaker’s nature is bad. - The speaker’s accusations reveal more about himself than they do about bother Lawrence o The speaker is the one spending time watching the women as he can describe them in detail. o The speaker was the owner of the French novel. - Can we trust the speaker? o Once again, we only get the perspective of the speaker and are probably not able to trust him. My Last Duchess: - The speaker is a duke who is pointing out a painting of his late wife, “his last duchess.” - She is “looking as if alive.” This indicates to us that she must now be dead. - The line “I gave commands and all smiles stopped” causes us to conclude that the duke had his wife killed. - What did she do that made him so angry? o She liked everything and was happy about everything, which annoyed him. o He wanted there to be something special about him, but she treated everyone and everything well. - At the end we find out that he is trying to arrange a marriage with the count’s daughter o This leaves us wandering what is going to happen to her. - The poem is believed to be based on a the real Duke of Ferrera.