The Characterization of Christabel Critics from around the world has put insight into the many ways that “[t]he lovely lady, Christabel” can be characterized (Coleridge 23). Samuel Taylor Coleridge uses many words to describe Christabel, but with literary analysis of “Christabel,” provided by scholars, she can be characterized at a deeper level than the way she is described in the text of the poem. Her description plays role in allowing the reader to relate with her quickly and be able to learn more about Christabel as the poem continues.
A deeper meaning to her characterization is portrayed throughout the plot of the poem as she is entranced and deceived by Geraldine. Even though the poem is incomplete, a thorough understanding of Christabel’s character can be derived from what Coleridge has completed essay writer for you. The characterization of Christabel is explained through Christianity, “the fall of innocence” and purity (Radley 69), and “the transition from “innocence” to “experience” (Harding 40). ” Christianity plays a major role throughout the poem to characterize Christabel. “Christabel herself personifies moral innocence. She “appears well-intentioned, virginal, and naive” (Ulmer 378). These qualities go along with those of a Christian who has not been exposed to sin and still has purity. “Christabel is repeatedly characterized “as a sinless child… “Christabel suffers innocently, like Christ” her “beauty has a particular innocence about it, being associated with the beauty of Christ” (qtd. in Ulmer 378). Christabel is seen as pure and sinless on the surface, but as the poem continues the perception of her innocence shifts toward her permitting sin to come into her life. Cooper contends that “physical evil, no matter how supernatural its source, cannot touch Christabel’s soul unless she consents to it” (qtd. in Ulmer 379). At the oak tree, Geraldine deceives Christabel and causes her to question her faith and give in to sin. Ulmer reports that “Christabel’s encounter with Geraldine thus reenacts the Fall, with the complicities of that encounter signifying the girl’s subjection to Original Sin” (381). After Christabel’s nighttime encounter with Geraldine, she “finds Geraldine even more beautiful than the night before.
Convinced that her evening with Geraldine was sinful, Christabel prays for redemption” (Overview: “Christabel”). Like the serpent in The Garden of Eden, Geraldine tricks Christabel into sin and starts the downfall of Christabel’s perceived innocence and purity, but her guilt eventually overcomes sin. The Christian character upheld by Christabel prevails and Geraldine’s spell is overcome. In Addition to Christianity and the introduction to sin playing a role in the characterization of Christabel, “the fall of [her] innocence” adds emphasis as well (Radley 69).
According to Radley, “Christabel” lines 279-331, “the bedchamber scene, begins by presenting a picture of Christabel, in all her innocence, praying in the wood. This image is recapitulated for the reader to [emphasize her] innocence before the fall” (71). Christabel has a hold on her sexual innocence up to this point in the poem. Geraldine has been able to quickly expose her to sexual evil and Christabel has not contested participation. The morning after the bedchamber encounter “Geraldine appears more beautiful and more voluptuous” (Radley 71). Christabel quickly realizes her sin saying “Sure I have sinned! (Coleridge 381). She has now been awakened to sexual knowledge and has been directly “affected by her contact with evil” (Radley 72). Radley explains “a kind of allegory of the bed chamber is here enacted” out of Bracy’s dream of a snake strangling a dove, the story of Adam and Eve (73-74). Christabel is exposed to sexual knowledge, similarly to how Adam and Eve notice their nudity once they eat the forbidden fruit. “The fall of [Christabel’s] innocence” is due to an attraction and entrancement of Geraldine leading to the exposure to “a world of sin” (Coleridge 673).
The loss of Christabel’s purity and exposure to sin builds up to “the transition from “innocence” to “experience” (Harding 40). The poem explains Christabel has beautiful and innocent when she is introduced, but she is quickly corrupted by evil resulting in a completely different person. According to Mulvihill, “Christabel has been abandoned to possible danger by virtue of a number of circumstances, including her own naively sympathetic nature” (260). This dangerous characteristic is easily recognized by Geraldine and taken advantage of.
Christabel’s sympathetic nature attracts Geraldine, allowing the seduction of Christabel to take place (Mulvihill 260,264). Christabel’s failure “to read the warning signs—Geraldine’s refusal to pray, the tongue of light in the dying fire (Coleridge 142,159)—Christabel permits herself to accept Geraldine” (Harding 49). The warning signs never occur to Christabel because she has never been exposed to such evil in her life. “She is orphaned by the departure of a certain kind of spirituality that is associated with womanhood and motherhood.
This deprivation leaves her vulnerable to the irruption of the tyrannous Geraldine” (Harding 47). Harding Explains, She finds a mother figure in Geraldine “following Christabel’s seduction by Geraldine and the fever-like crisis of the mysterious spell, Geraldine and Christabel are described “As a mother with her child” (Coleridge 301). ” The void of a mother figure feels as if it may have been filled until the morning she realizes the deceit and understands the sin committed. “The fact that Christabel’s imputation of sin is self-implicating suggests the latter possibility” (Mulvihill 266).
She has realized her own sin has us fully aware of Geraldine’s evil. Her innocence has become an experience and she is no longer able to have her purity. The character of Christabel is explained throughout the poem with the use of literary analysis. Christianity, “the fall of innocence” (Radley 69), and “the transition from “innocence” to “experience” (Harding 40) are portrayed from analysis to show how Christabel is characterized. ” Her innocence is ultimately the cause of her downfall in becoming exposed to the world and the sin held within. Her white robe is part of her imitation of innocence and purity so that initially she seems “holy” in the same way that she later declares Christabel to be. But white is also the color of death: of the shroud and the life-drained complexion” (Chambers 26). Christabel is “holy” until death tries to take over and take the purity out of her white complexion (Chambers 26).
Chambers, Jane. “Coleridge’s CHRISTABEL, Lines48-52. ” Explicator 41. 3 (1983): 25. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “Christabel. ” English Literature. New York: Norton & Company Inc., 2006. 1634-1649. Print. Harding, Anthony John. “Mythopoeic Elements In “Christabel. ” Modern Language Quarterly 44. 1 (198): 39-50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Feb. 2013
Mulvihill, James. “Like A Lady Of A Far Country”: Coleridge’s “Christabel” And Fear Of Invasion. ” Papers On Language & Literature 44. 3 (2008): 250-275. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2013
“Overview: “Christabel”. Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit. : Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 17 Feb 2013. Radley, Virginia L. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Boston: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1966. 66-75. Print. Ulmer, William A. “Christabel And The Origin Of Evil. ” Studies In Philology 104. 3 (2007): 376- 407. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.
Ulmer, William A. “Christabel And The Origin Of Evil. ” Studies In Philology 104. 3 (2007): 376- 407. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.
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