Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Snake and The Dove

In the poem Christabel by Samuel Coleridge, the character Bracy the bard speaks of a dream he had about the night that two maidens named Christabel and Geraldine, found each other. His story shows the symbolism of this main event from the beginning of the poem. Christabel leaves the castle at midnight to pray in the woods when she hears a moan on the other side of the tree. She looks to find that the source of the moan is coming from a young maiden. When Christabel asks the girl why she is moaning, Geraldine introduces herself and tells her story of how five men kidnapped her from her castle. This beautiful girl, Geraldine, asks for Christabel's help to escape from the men that left her at the oak tree. Since Christabel is very innocent and kind, she doesn't question helping the girl. She brings Geraldine to her castle where the girls drink some wine and Geraldine puts a spell on Christabel.
"Warn'd by a vision in my rest!
For in my sleep I saw that dove,
That gentle bird, whom thou dost love,
And call'st by thy own daughter's name--
Sir Leoline! I saw the same,
Fluttering, and uttering fearful moan,
Among the green herbs in the forest alone.
Which when I saw and when I heard,
I wonder'd what might ail the bird;
For nothing near it could I see,
Save the grass and green herbs underneath the old tree.
And in my dream, methought, I went
To search out what might there be found;
And what the sweet bird's trouble meant,
That thus lay fluttering on the ground.
I went and peered, and could descry
No cause for her distressful cry;
But yet for her dear lady's sake
I stooped, methought, the dove to take,
When lo! I saw a bright green snake
Coiled around its wings and neck.
Green as the herbs on which it couched,
Close by the dove's its head it crouched;
And with the dove it heaves and stirs,
Swelling its neck as she swelled hers!"

Bracy's dream reminds me of the girls meeting because throughout the poem we find out that Geraldine is not a good person. In the dream, Geraldine represents the snake but to Sir Leoline, Christabel's father, she is the dove. The dream says about the snake, "And with the dove it heaves and stirs," showing that the snake and bird are completely bonded as one. When the dove heaves the snake fallows along "Swelling its neck as she swells hers!" This snake is hidden within the green herbs meaning the evil inside of Geraldine in hidden from every body’s view. People see her as the hurt dove but Christabel sees her as she truly is, the snake.

"And Geraldine in maiden wise
Casting down her large bright eyes,
With blushing cheek and courtesy fine
She turned her from Sir Leoline;
Softly gathering up her train,
That o'er her right arm fell again;
And folded her arms across her chest,
And couched her head upon her breast,
And looked askance at Christabel--
Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
A snake's small eye blinks dull and shy,
And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head,
Each shrunk up to a serpent's eye,
And with somewhat of malice, and more of dread,
At Christabel she look'd askance!--
One moment--and the sight was fled!
But Christabel in dizzy trance
Stumbling on the unsteady ground
Shuddered aloud, with a hissing sound;
And Geraldine again turned round,
And like a thing, that sought relief,
Full of wonder and full of grief,
She rolled her large bright eyes divine
Wildly on Sir Leoline."

In this part of the poem it shows how Geraldine looks at Sir Leoline with large bright eyes then turns her face away like a hurt dove. She then gives a sideway glance to Christabel and her eyes "shrunk up to a serpent's eye." Christabel gets scared as she stumbles out of the trance and shudders aloud. Geraldine again looks at Sir Leoline with bright eyes. Only Christabel can see that Geraldine is really the serpent around the doves neck.

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