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How does Coleridge create a sense of evil in the poem Christabel?

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'Christabel - Coleridge (1805)' How does Coleridge create a sense of evil in the poem Christabel? The poem starts off by setting this eerie, ghostly scene. It depicts a gothic castle shadowed by the darkness of the forest, it is coming up to midnight and an owl is hooting in the forest. The hooting is answered by an unnatural sound of a cock crowing far away in the distance under the light of the moon, which is completely out of context, being in the middle of the night. I think how Coleridge adds this sort of unnatural effect makes it clear there is something wrong right from the start of the poem. The night is cold, but not dark there seems to be a grey shroud of mist glowing by the moonlight lingering over the castle and the surrounding forest, which makes an almost surreal, dreamlike atmosphere. The bitter coldness indicates evil deeds awake and creates this cold feeling of the supernatural. Coleridge again shows that the animals sense evil in the forest when he says, 'Sir Leoline, the Baron rich hath a toothless mastiff bitch; from her kennel beneath the rock she maketh answer the clock.' There is a full moon in the sky, which is usually associated with evil such as werewolves and withes etc. ...read more.


But Geraldine is incapable of saying this for she is altogether evil and serves only evil, so she says 'I cannot speak from weariness.' Outside and far below the mastiff bitch senses evil is close and lets out an irate howl but only then that Geraldine was so close. As they passed the great hall there were glowing ashes on the hearth but as Geraldine strides past, it lights up licking at the wall and glowed as if the very fires of hell had opened up into the hall. Something about Geraldine acted almost as fuel for ashes and again Coleridge adds this special effect to leave you thinking and mystified. Christabel continues carrying Geraldine up to her quarters making their way from stair to stair and as she passes the Barons room Coleridge uses these descriptive words that add to the uncanny evil 'As still as death with stifled breath and now have reached her chamber door' Coleridge uses alliteration throughout the poem usually using words containing strong syllables and dark words such as death and stifled breath or glimmer and gloom, which again creates this unmistakable sense of evil. Christabel's room is dark but still Geraldine can see the beautiful carvings of angels and fair things. Christabel lights the lantern and Geraldine collapsed on the floor. ...read more.


This is quite unexpected for Coleridge makes you think Geraldine will just kill her but she is intent on torturing her, maybe she has other things in mind. Finally in the conclusion Coleridge describes Christabel at the start; beautiful, holy and gentle, and then shows the contrast now that Geraldine has her under her spell, she seems changed and frightened even shameful. She is so different from when she was praying under the old oak tree it is hard to recognise her. Coleridge ironically describes Geraldine's hold over Christabel as a mother with her child. Coleridge adds; 'O Geraldine! Since arms of thine have been the lovely lady's prison' which makes you see how utterly helpless Christabel really is. There is no escape for her, no one to save her. Slowly Christabel wakes up and weeps, Coleridge now describes her as 'a youthful hermitess, beauteous in the wilderness' for she is alone, with no one to help her. But hope remains, for at the end of the poem there is no mention of Geraldine and Coleridge leaves you in bewilderment, not knowing what becomes of poor Christabel, but ends the poem with some positive and hopeful words 'What if she knew her mother near? But this she knows in joys and woes, that saints will aid if men will call: For the blue sky bends over all' Chris Corbishley 10A ...read more.

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