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December 1

Notes on Frankenstein

General

Allusiveness—a very literary text

The Title Page

Structure

Who is the Hero?

Some Passages from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

From Volume 1, Chapter 3

I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me--a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret . . .

No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.

From Volume 1, Chapter 5

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured, and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain; I slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch--the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited, where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.

From Volume 2, Chapter 3

"It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being; all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct. A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses. By degrees, I remember, a stronger light pressed upon my nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes. Darkness then came over me and troubled me, but hardly had I felt this when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light poured in upon me again. I walked and, I believe, descended, but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations. Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid. The light became more and more oppressive to me, and the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I could receive shade. This was the forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger and thirst. This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees or lying on the ground. I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then lying down, was overcome by sleep.

"It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half frightened, as it were, instinctively, finding myself so desolate. Before I had quitted your apartment, on a sensation of cold, I had covered myself with some clothes, but these were insufficient to secure me from the dews of night. I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish, nothing; but feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down and wept.

"Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens and gave me a sensation of pleasure. I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees. [The moon] I gazed with a kind of wonder. It moved slowly, but it enlightened my path, and I again went out in search of berries. I was still cold when under one of the trees I found a huge cloak, with which I covered myself, and sat down upon the ground. No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me; the only object that I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on that with pleasure.

"Several changes of day and night passed, and the orb of night had greatly lessened, when I began to distinguish my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the clear stream that supplied me with drink and the trees that shaded me with their foliage. I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes. I began also to observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that surrounded me and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of light which canopied me. Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds but was unable. Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again.

"The moon had disappeared from the night, and again, with a lessened form, showed itself, while I still remained in the forest. My sensations had by this time become distinct, and my mind received every day additional ideas. My eyes became accustomed to the light and to perceive objects in their right forms; I distinguished the insect from the herb, and by degrees, one herb from another. I found that the sparrow uttered none but harsh notes, whilst those of the blackbird and thrush were sweet and enticing.

"One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects! I examined the materials of the fire, and to my joy found it to be composed of wood. I quickly collected some branches, but they were wet and would not burn. I was pained at this and sat still watching the operation of the fire. The wet wood which I had placed near the heat dried and itself became inflamed. I reflected on this, and by touching the various branches, I discovered the cause and busied myself in collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it and have a plentiful supply of fire. When night came on and brought sleep with it, I was in the greatest fear lest my fire should be extinguished. I covered it carefully with dry wood and leaves and placed wet branches upon it; and then, spreading my cloak, I lay on the ground and sank into sleep.

From Volume 2, Chapter 4

"By degrees I made a discovery of still greater moment. I found that these people possessed a method of communicating their experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds. I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers. This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it. But I was baffled in every attempt I made for this purpose. Their pronunciation was quick, and the words they uttered, not having any apparent connection with visible objects, I was unable to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mystery of their reference. By great application, however, and after having remained during the space of several revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse; I learned and applied the words, `fire,' `milk,' `bread,' and `wood.' I learned also the names of the cottagers themselves. The youth and his companion had each of them several names, but the old man had only one, which was `father.' The girl was called `sister' or `Agatha,' and the youth `Felix,' `brother,' or `son.' I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the ideas appropriated to each of these sounds and was able to pronounce them. I distinguished several other words without being able as yet to understand or apply them, such as `good,' `dearest,' `unhappy.'

From Volume 2, Chapter 7

"As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own feelings and condition. I found myself similar yet at the same time strangely unlike to the beings concerning whom I read and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathized with and partly understood them, but I was unformed in mind; I was dependent on none and related to none. "The path of my departure was free," and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them . . .

"But Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emotions. I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had fallen into my hands, as a true history. It moved every feeling of wonder and awe that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, to my own. Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature, but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition, for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.

November 26

Novel Beginnings

ENGL 446B handout

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus

The beginning of the novel (Walton's letters)

LETTER I

To Mrs. Saville, England

ST. PETERSBURGH, Dec. 11, 17--.

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday; and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare, and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is for ever visible; its broad disk just skirting the horizon, and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There--for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators--there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations, that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent for ever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death, and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But, supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so much to tranquillise the mind as a steady purpose--a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good uncle Thomas's library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father's dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.

 

A Short Video of a Skylark "skylarking"

To a Sky-Lark

From Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry (1821)

But poets, or those who imagine and express this indestructible order, are not only the authors of language and of music, of the dance, and architecture, and statuary, and painting: they are the institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society, and the inventors of the arts of life, and the teachers, who draw into a certain propinquity with the beautiful and the true that partial apprehension of the agencies of the invisible world which is called religion . . . Poets, according to the circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared, were called, in the earlier epochs of the world, legislators, or prophets: a poet essentially comprises and unites both these characters . . . A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one; as far as relates to his conceptions, time and place and number are not. (827-828)

Contrast between

The logic or rhetoric of the poem—emotions: is it mere gush? A spontaneous overflow?

Poetry is ever accompanied with pleasure: all spirits on which it falls open themselves to receive the wisdom which is mingled with its delight . . . A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why. (828)

Stanzas 1-6 (lines 1-30):

Poets are not only subject to these experiences as spirits of the most refined organization, but they can color all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world; a word, a trait in the representation of a scene or a passion will touch the enchanted chord, and reanimate, in those who have ever experienced these emotions, the sleeping, the cold, the buried image of the past. Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world; it arrests the vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations of life . . . (831)

Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred. . . What were virtue, love, patriotism, friendship-what were the scenery of this beautiful universe which we inhabit; what were our consolations on this side of the grave-and what were our aspirations beyond it, if poetry did not ascend to bring light and fire from those eternal regions where the owl-winged faculty of calculation dare not ever soar? Poetry is not like reasoning, a power to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say, "I will compose poetry." The greatest poet even cannot say it; for the mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness; this power arises from within, like the color of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our natures are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure. (830-831)

Stanzas 7-12 (lines 31- 60):

Stanzas 13-21 (lines 61- 105):

. . . poetry acts in another and diviner manner. It awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar . . . The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination . . . (829)

The Consolation of Shelley’s Adonais

Mick Jagger reads stanzas 39 and 52 from Shelley's Adonais at the Brian Jones memorial concert in 1969.

 

Lines 334-357 (stanzas 38-40)

Where is Adonais?

Why linger? (469, stanza 53)

Final tension

But what does it mean to be a poet?

Poets, according to the circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared, were called, in the earlier epochs of the world, legislators, or prophets: a poet essentially comprises and unites both these characters . . . A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one . . . (828)
It means to live in this tension and to live there alone

And what does the Poet bring back from the abode where the Eternal are?

. . . poetry acts in another and diviner manner. It awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar . . . The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination . . . (829)

Concluding verses of Prometheus Unbound

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;                           [4.570]
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
   To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
   Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;                             [4.575]
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.

November 24

Keats' Letters

To George Keats, 21 December 1817

[S]everal things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously--I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason--Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

To J H Reynolds, 3 May 1818

Well - I compare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being yet shut upon me - The first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think - We remain there a long while, and notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imperceptibly impelled by the awakening of the thinking principle - within us - we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and the atmosphere, we see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delaying there for ever in delight: However among the effects this breathing is father of is that tremendous one of sharpening one's vision into the heart and nature of Man - of convincing ones nerves that the World is full of Misery and Heartbreak, Pain, Sickness and oppression - whereby This Chamber of Maiden Thought become gradually darken'd and at the same time on all sides of it many doors are set open - but all dark - all leading to dark passages - We see not the ballance of good and evil.  We are in a Mist - We are now in that state - We feel the "burden of the Mystery," To this point was Wordsworth come, as far as I can conceive when he wrote 'Tintern Abbey' and it seems to me that his Genius is explorative of those dark Passages. 

To George and Georgiana Keats, 14 Feb-3 May 1819

The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is 'a vale of tears' from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven--What a little circumscribed straightened notion! call the world if you Please 'The vale of Soul-making' Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought which has struck me concerning it) I say "Soul making" Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence-- There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions--but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of perception--they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are God--how then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them--so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this? This point I sincerely wish to consider because I think it a grander system of salvation than the chrystain religion--or rather it is a system of Spirit-creation--This is effected by three grand materials acting the one upon the other for a series of years--These Materials are the Intelligence--the human heart (as distinguished from intelligence or Mind) and the World or Elemental space suited for the proper action of Mind and Heart on each other for the purpose of forming the Soul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity. I can scarcely express what I but dimly perceive--and yet I think I perceive it--that you may judge the more clearly I will put it in the most homely form possible--I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read--I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways! Not merely is the Heart a Hornbook, it is the Minds Bible, it is the Minds experience, it is the teat from which the Mind or intelligence sucks its identity--As various as the Lives of Men are--so various become their Souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls, Identical Souls of the sparks of his own essence.

Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale”

Ben Whislaw reads Keats' "To Autumn"

November 19

Monty Python's Variation on Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"

Keats’ Eve of St. Agnes

Background

Overview

Analysis

Stanzas I-V

Stanzas V-VIII

Stanza IX-X

Stanzas XI-XII

Stanzas XIV-XVIII

Stanza XIX

Stanzas XXII-XXIII

Stanzas XXIV-XXV

Stanzas XXVI-XXXV

Stanzas XXXVI-XXXVIII

Stanzas XXXIX-XLI

Stanza XLII

A Modern Version of the End of The Eve of St Agnes

November 17

Byron's Manfred

John Martin, Manfred on the Jungfrau

Ford Maddox Brown, "Manfred on the Jungfrau"

Excerpt from Kenneth Clark's Civilisation: The Fallacies of Hope

Beethoven and Byron

The Prisoners' Chorus from Fidelio

GEFANGENEN
O, welche Lust!
in freier Luft den Atem
leicht zu heben, O, welche Lust!
nur hier, nur hier ist Leben,
der Kerker eine Gruft, eine Gruft!

ERSTER GEFANGENE
Wir wollen mit Vertrauen
auf Gottes Hülfe,
auf Gottes Hülfe bauen,
die Hoffnung flüstert sanft mir zu,
wir werden frei, wir finden Ruh,
wir finden Ruh'.

GEFANGENEN
O Himmel Rettung,
welch ein Glück,
o Freiheit, o Freiheit,
kehrst du zurück?

ZWEITE GEFANGENE
Sprecht leise, haltet euch zurück,
wir sind belauscht mir
Ohr und Blick.

GEFANGENEN
Sprecht leise, haltet euch zurück,
wir sind belauscht mir
Ohr und Blick.

ALL
Oh, what a pleasure once again
Freely to breathe the fresh air!
In Heaven’s light we live again;
From death we have escaped.

One of them.
Let us in Heaven trust;
On Heaven depend our hopes:
He will on our griefs look with pity.
On His goodness all things depend.

All.
Oh, liberty! oh, salvation!
Oh, God, upon our miseries have pity!

[Here an Officer appears on the wall, and again retires.

Prisoner.
Silence! make no noise!
Pizarro’s eyes and ears are o’er us!

All.
Silence! make no noise!
Pizarro’s eyes and ears are o’er us!
Oh! what a pleasure once again
Freely to breathe the fresh air!
In Heaven’s light we live again;
From death we have escaped.

From Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto 3

XXXVI.

There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit anithetically mixed
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixed;
Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st
Even now to reassume the imperial mien,
And shake again the world, the Thunderer of the scene!

XXXVII.

Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou!
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who wooed thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deemed thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.

XXXVIII.

Oh, more or less than man--in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield:
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skilled,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,
Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.

XXXIX.

Yet well thy soul hath brooked the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;
When Fortune fled her spoiled and favourite child,
He stood unbowed beneath the ills upon him piled.

XL.

Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steeled thee on to far too show
That just habitual scorn, which could contemn
Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turned unto thine overthrow:
'Tis but a worthless world to win or lose;
So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.

XLI.

If, like a tower upon a headland rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had helped to brave the shock;
But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy throne,
THEIR admiration thy best weapon shone;
The part of Philip's son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy purple had been thrown)
Like stern Diogenes to mock at men;
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den.

XLII.

But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
And THERE hath been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the soul, which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.

XLIII.

This makes the madmen who have made men mad
By their contagion! Conquerors and Kings,
Founders of sects and systems, to whom add
Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things
Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs,
And are themselves the fools to those they fool;
Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings
Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school
Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule:

XLIV.

Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickering, or a sword laid by,
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.

XLV.

He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high ABOVE the sun of glory glow,
And far BENEATH the earth and ocean spread,
ROUND him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.

                       * * * *

 

XCVI.

Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye,
With night, and clouds, and thunder, and a soul
To make these felt and feeling, well may be
Things that have made me watchful; the far roll
Of your departing voices, is the knoll
Of what in me is sleepless,--if I rest.
But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those within the human breast?
Or do ye find at length, like eagles, some high nest?

XCVII.

Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,--could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak,
All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe--into one word,
And that one word were lightning, I would speak;
But as it is, I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.

                       * * * *

 

CXIII.

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed
To its idolatries a patient knee, -
Nor coined my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

CXIV.

I have not loved the world, nor the world me, -
But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
Though I have found them not, that there may be
Words which are things,--hopes which will not deceive,
And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
Snares for the falling: I would also deem
O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve;
That two, or one, are almost what they seem, -
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.

 

From the final scene of Goethe's Faust, Part 2

ENGEL (schwebend in der höhern Atmosphäre, Faustens Unsterbliches tragend)
Gerettet ist das edle Glied
Der Geisterwelt vom Bösen:
Wer immer strebend sich bemüht,
Den können wir erlösen;
Und hat an ihm die Liebe gar
Von oben teilgenommen,
Begegnet ihm die sel'ge Schar
Mit herzlichem Willkommen.

ANGELS (hovering in the higher atmosphere, bearing Faust's immortal soul)
Now the noble member
Of the spiritual world is saved from evil:
Whoever constantly aspires and perseveres,
Him can we redeem;
And if he fully merges in the
Love high above,
The sacred congregation will meet him
With the most heartfelt welcome.

November 12

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The Occasion of the Lyrical Ballads

Excerpt from Chapter 14 of Biographia Literaria (1817)

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(from Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volume 2A, pages 689-690)

During the first year that Mr. Wordsworth and I were neighbours, our conversations turned frequently on the two cardinal points of poetry, the power of exciting the sympathy of the reader by a faithful adherence to the truth of nature, and the power of giving the interest of novelty by the modifying colours of imagination. The sudden charm, which accidents of light and shade, which moon-light or sun-set diffused over a known and familiar landscape, appeared to represent the practicability of combining both. These are the poetry of nature. The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life; the characters and incidents were to be such, as will be found in every village and its vicinity, where there is a meditative and feeling mind to seek after them, or to notice them, when they present themselves.

In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth on the other hand was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.

Notes on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Epistemological Questions

Metaphysical nature of the Mariner’s universe

Overview

More Questions

 

1.      Why does the Mariner stop the Wedding Guest?

2.      Why a wedding?

3.      Moon/Sun, Day/Night, Dry/Wet: what do we make of these image patterns?

4.      What is the albatross?

5.      Why does the Mariner kill it?

6.      How does the crew respond?

7.      Speech and silence—how does this run through the poem?

8.      A ghost-ship?

9.      Why a game of dice? What does this suggest about fate, justice, God?

10.  What are the punishments? What are the crimes? Do the punishments fit the crimes?

11.  Why can’t the Mariner pray? When can he again?

12.  Why is the “blessing” of the water-snakes important? Why does he do it?

13.  Rain/baptism, sleep/death: are there other patterns like these?

14.  Is the Mariner forgiven? What about the crew?

15.  Who is the Spirit? What connection do we make with the claim that the spirit loved the bird who loved the man who shot the bird?

16.  Why more penance?

17.  Why is the curse not broken?

18.  Why does the Mariner fear being pursued? Who or what is pursuing him?

19.  Does the Hermit shrive him? Why or why not?

20.  What is speech associated with in this last part?

21.  Is the Mariner still punished? Why?

22.  What would the Mariner prefer? What is odd about this preference?

23.  What is the moral of the poem? Does the moral fit the Mariner’s story?

24.  What is the Wedding Guest’s response? Why is he “sadder and wiser”?

November 10

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Wordsworth’s Ode

I found that he too had had similar experience to mine, that he had also felt that the first freshness of youthful enjoyment of life was not lasting; but that he had sought for compensation, and found it, in the way he was now teaching me to find it. The result was that I gradually, but completely, emerged from my habitual depression, and was never again subject to it.

-J.S. Mill, Autobiography

Ode: a long, usually stately lyric poem in stanzas of varied metrical pattern employing a high style

M. H. Abrams on the “greater Romantic lyric”: In the course of [his] meditation the lyric speaker achieves an insight, faces up to a tragic loss, comes to a moral decision, or resolves an emotional problem. Often the poem rounds upon itself to end where it began, at the outer scene, but with an altered mood and deepened understanding which is the result of the intervening meditation” (201).

Form

Three sections

Stanzas 1-4: Loss

Stanzas 5-8: The story of how we lose

Stanzas 9-11: The promise of compensation

Turns and counterturns

Note turns in the first few stanzas

“There was a time” (1) -> “It is not now as it hath been” (6)

“The Rainbow comes and goes” (10) -> “But yet I know” (18)

“a thought of grief” (22) -> “I again am strong” (24)

The Big Question

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Reverses the story of maturation

We grow into society /  darkness / isolation / culture / custom

We grow away from God / Light / Connection / Nature / Imagination


Balancing Losses and Compensations

Stanza

Then

Now

1

celestial light

glory and freshness of a dream

can see no more

 

2

Rainbow comes and goes . . .

there hath past away a glory from the earth

3

fullness of your bliss

thought of grief

4

visionary gleam

glory and the dream

if I were sullen

whither is fled

5

not in entire forgetfulness

trailing clouds of glory

Heaven lies about us

Nature’s Priest

vision splendid

a sleep and a forgetting

shades of the prison house

Man perceives it die away

fade into the light of common day

6

[Nature’s] Foster-child

glories he hath known

imperial palace whence he came

Inmate Man

Earth fills her lap with pleasures

7

his dream of human life

 

some fragment of [his dream of human life]

this hath now his heart

fit his tongue to dialogues of business, love, strife,

the little Actor

As if his whole vocation / Were endless imitation

8

Thy Soul’s immensity

Thou best philosopher

thou Eye among the blind

read’st the eternal deep

haunted forever by the eternal mind

Mighty Prophet

Seer blest

glorious in the might

In darkness lost

darkness of the grave

to bring the inevitable yoke

blindly with thy blessedness at strife

earthly freight

custom lie upon thee with a weight

 

Stanza

Loss

Gain

9

Delight and liberty

simple creed / Of Childhood

new-fledged hope

that immortal sea / which brought us hither

[cannot be children on the shore]

perpetual benediction

obstinate questionings

blank misgivings

first affections

Our souls have sight of that immortal sea . . .

see the Children sport upon the shore

 

10

radiance once so bright

spendour in the grass

glory in the flower

primal sympathy

soothing thoughts that spring / Out of human suffering

faith that looks through death

years that bring philosophic mind

11

to live beneath [Nature’s] more habitual sway

[a time when I] tripped lightly as [the brooks]

the innocent brightness of a new-born Day

sober coloring

kept watch o’er man’s mortality

To me the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

November 5

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Some Representations of the Sublime

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818)

Caspar David Friedrich, The Sea of Ice (1824)

John Martin, The Bard (1817)

J. M. W. Turner, Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On [The Slave Ship] (1840)

Concepts of the Imagination

Hobbes

Time and Education begets experience; Experience begets memory; Memory begets Judgment and Fancy; Judgment begets the strength and structure, and Fancy begets the Ornaments of a Poem. The Ancients therefore fabled not absurdly in making memory the Mother of the Muses. For memory is the World . . . in which Judgment . . . busieth herself in grave and rigid examination of all the parts of Nature . . . Whereby the Fancy, when any work of Art is to be performed findes her materials at hand and prepared for use ("Answer to Sir William Davenant's Preface before 'Gondibert'" in Volume 4 of The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, edited by William Molesworth).

Locke

The dominion of man, in this little world of his understanding, being muchwhat the same as it is in the great world of visible thing; wherein his power, however managed by art and skill, reaches no farther than to compound and divide materials that are made to his hand; but can do nothing towards the making the least particle of new matter, or destroying one atom of what is already in being. The same inability will every one find in himself, who shall go about to fashion in his reflection from operations of his own mind about them (Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book III, chapter iii, section 2).

Hume

[Unlike memory,] the imagination is not restrain'd to the same order and form with the original impressions . . . [it is however] governed by the fixed laws of association, and when not governed by such laws, dangerous. [This dangerous imagination is that which is capable of producing such absurdities as] winged horses, fiery dragons, and monstrous giants (from Treatise on Human Nature)
David Lowenthal, writing on Hume's idea of memory:
Remembering the past is crucial for our sense of identity: . . . to know what we were confirms that we are.  Self-continuity depends wholly on memory; recalling past experiences links us with our earlier selves, however different we may since have become.  'As memory alone acquaints us with the . . . succession of perceptions', Hume reasoned, 'tis to be consider'd . . . as the source of personal identity.  Had we no memory, we never shou'd have any notion . . . of that chain of causes and effects, which constitute our self or person.' (The Past Is a Foreign Country, 197)

Burke

. . . the mind of man possesses a sort of creative power of its own; either in representing at pleasure the images of things in the order and manner in which they were received by the senses, or in combining those images in a new manner, and according to a different order. This power is called imagination; and to this belongs whatever is wit, fancy, invention, and the like. But it must be observed, that this power of the imagination is incapable of producing anything absolutely new; it can only vary the disposition of those ideas which it has received from the senses (from "Of Taste" in A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful)

Wordsworth

Imagination . . . has no reference to images that are merely a faithful copy, existing in the mind, of absent external objects; but is a word of higher import, denoting operations of the mind upon those objects, and processes of creation or of composition, governed by certain fixed laws . . . [Wordsworth discusses examples from Virgil, Shakespeare and himself to show how imagination changes external objects by adding or subtracting properties from them] . . . Thus far of images independent of each other, and immediately endowed by the mind with properties that do not inhere in them, upon an incitement from properties and qualities the existence of which is inherent and obvious. These processes of imagination are carried on either by conferring additional properties upon an object, or abstracting from it some of those which it actually possesses, and thus enabling it to react upon the mind which hath performed the process, like a new existence.
I pass from the Imagination acting upon an individual image to a consideration of the same faculty employed upon images in a conjunction by which they modify each other . . . [for example]
As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence,
Wonder to all who do the same espy
By what means it could thither come, and whence,
So that it seems a thing endued with sense,
Like a sea-beast crawled forth, which on a shelf
of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun himself.

Such seemed this Man; not all alive or dead
Nor all asleep, in his extreme old age.
Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood,
That heareth not the loud winds when they call,
And moveth altogether if it move at all.

In these images, the conferring, the abstracting, and the modifying powers of the Imagination, immediately and mediately acting, are all brought into conjunction. The stone is endowed with something of the power of life to approximate it to the sea-beast; and the sea-beast stripped of some of its vital qualities to assimilate it to the stone; which intermediate image is thus treated for the purpose of bringing the original image, that of the stone, to a nearer resemblance to the figure and condition of the aged Man; who is divested of so much of the indications of life and motion as to bring him to the point where the two objects unite and coalesce in just comparison . . . Thus far of an endowing or modifying power: but the Imagination also shapes and creates; and how? By innumerable processes; and in none does it more delight than in that of consolidating numbers into unity, and dissolving and separating unity into number,—alternations proceeding from, and governed by, a sublime consciousness of the soul in her own mighty and almost divine powers . . .  As I do not mean here to treat this subject further than to throw some light upon the present Volumes, and especially upon one division of them, I shall spare myself and the Reader the trouble of considering the Imagination as it deals with thoughts and sentiments, as it regulates the composition of characters, and determines the course of actions: I will not consider it (more than I have already done by implication) as that power which, in the language of one of my most esteemed Friends, 'draws all things to one; which makes things animate or inanimate, beings with their attributes, subjects with their accessories, take one colour and serve to one effect.' The grand storehouses of enthusiastic and meditative Imagination, of poetical, as contra-distinguished from human and dramatic Imagination, are the prophetic and lyrical parts of the Holy Scriptures, and the works of Milton; to which I cannot forbear to add to those of Spenser. ("Preface to Poems, 1815")

Coleridge

The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate: or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. (From Chapter 13, Biographia Literaria)

October 27-29

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Francis Jeffrey, from his review of Southey's Thalaba (Longman 431-2)

The language of the higher and more cultivated orders may fairly be presumed to be better than that of their inferiors.

Now, the different classes of society have each of them a distinct character, as well as a separate idiom; and the names of the various passions to which they are subject respectively, have a signification that varies essentially, according to the condition of the persons to whom they are applied. The love, or grief, or indignation of an enlightened and refined character, is not only expressed in a different language, but is in itself a different emotion from the love, or grief, or anger, of a clown, a tradesman, or a market-wench. The things themselves are radically and obviously distinct; and the representation of them is calculated to convey a very different train of sympathies and sensations to mind.

A splenetic and idle discontent with the existing institutions of society, seems to be at the bottom of all their serious and peculiar sentiments. Instead of contemplating the wonders and pleasures which civilization has created for mankind, they are perpetually brooding over the disorders by which its progress has been attended. They are filled with horror and compassion at the sight of poor men spending their blood in the quarrels of princes, and brutifying their sublime capabilities in the drudgery of unremitting labour.

I)       Lyrical Ballads

A)    The “Preface”

i)        Incidents from common life (395-6)

    The principal object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement. Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings coexist in a state of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings, and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended, and are more durable; and, lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature. The language, too, of these men has been adopted (purified indeed from what appear to be its real defects, from all lasting and rational causes of dislike or disgust) because such men hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of language is originally derived; and because, from their rank in society and the sameness and narrow circle of their intercourse, being less under the influence of social vanity, they convey their feelings and notions in simple and unelaborated expressions. Accordingly, such a language, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, is a more permanent, and a far more philosophical language, than that which is frequently substituted for it by Poets, who think that they are conferring honour upon themselves and their art, in proportion as they separate themselves from the sympathies of men, and indulge in arbitrary and capricious habits of expression, in order to furnish food for fickle tastes, and fickle appetites, of their own creation.

ii)       Spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (397)

(a)    For all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings . . . It has been said that each of these poems has a purpose. Another circumstance must be mentioned which distinguishes these Poems from the popular Poetry of the day; it is this, that the feeling therein developed gives importance to the action and situation, and not the action and situation to the feeling.

(b)   For the human mind is capable of being excited without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this, and who does not further know, that one being is elevated above another, in proportion as he possesses this capability . . . For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. The most effective of these causes are the great national events which are daily taking place, and the increasing accumulation of men in cities, where the uniformity of their occupations produces a craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies. to this tendency of life and manners the literature and theatrical exhibitions of the country have conformed themselves.

Wordsworth's Audacious Minimalism: A slumber did my spirit seal

iii)        The Very Language of Men (397-399)

(a)    I have proposed to myself to imitate, and, as far as is possible, to adopt the very language of men . . . I have wished to keep my Reader in the company of flesh and blood . . . There will also be found in these volumes little of what is usually called poetic diction; I have taken as much pains to aoid it as others ordinarily take to produce it; this I have done for the reason already alleged, to bring my language near to the language of men . . .

Thomas Gray's Sonnet on the Death of Richard West

In vain to me the smiling mornings shine,
And redd'ning Phoebus lifts his golden fire:
The birds in vain their amorous descant join;
Or cheerful fields resume their green attire:
These ears, alas! for other notes repine,
A different object do these eyes require:
My lonely anguish melts no heart but mine;
And in my breast the imperfect joys expire.

Yet morning smiles the busy race to cheer,
And new-born pleasure brings to happier men:
The fields to all their wonted tribute bear;
To warm their little loves the birds complain:
I fruitless mourn to him that cannot hear,
And weep the more, because I weep in vain.

It will easily be perceived that the only part of this Sonnet which is of any value is the lines printed in Italics: it is equally obvious, that, except in the rhyme, and in the use of the single word "fruitless" for fruitlessly, which is so far a defect, the language of these lines does in no respect differ from that of prose.

iv)     What is a Poet? (400)

(a)    What is a Poet? . . .He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him . . . to these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events, than anything which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves

(b)   Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science

v)    I have one request to make of my Reader, which is, that in judging these Poems he would decide by his own feelings genuinely, and not by reflection upon what will probably be the judgment of others . . . let the Reader then abide, independently, by his own feelings, and, if he finds himself affected, let him not suffer such conjectures to interfere with his pleasure. (405)

B)      “Simon Lee”

i)        Simple language

ii)       variation of ballad stanza

iii)     Use of feminine rhymes—falling off at the end of the lines, produces a mild comic or light effect

iv)     Simon Lee’s story—68 lines of description

       Click here to go to this point in the poem

v)      Turn to the reader for 12 lines—part of the LB project—“you would find / A tale in everything”

vi)     Emphasis on “silent thought” key—this is the wise passiveness that will come up later

vii)   What is the “action” of the poem? Is the action important? No. Later in the Preface, Wordsworth will claim that “the feeling therein developed gives importance to the action and the situation and not the action and situation to the feeling.”

viii)  So what is the feeling developed by this poem?

II) Some Passages

A)    Lines Written in Early Spring

The birds around me hopp'd and play'd:
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made,
It seem'd a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If I these thoughts may not prevent,
If such be of my creed the plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

B)    The Thorn

At all times of the day and night
This wretched woman thither goes,
And she is known to every star,
And every wind that blows; (67-70)

'Twas mist and rain, and storm and rain
No screen, no fence could I discover,
And then the wind! in faith, it was
A wind full ten times over.
I looked around, I thought I saw
A jutting crag, and off I ran,
Head-foremost, through the driving rain,
The shelter of the crag to gain,
And, as I am a man,
Instead of jutting crag, I found
A woman seated on the ground.

I did not speak--I saw her face,
Her face it was enough for me;
I turned about and heard her cry,
"O misery! O misery!" (188-202)

C)    Expostulation and Reply

"The eye--it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
Against or with our will.

"Nor less I deem that there are powers
Which of themselves our minds impress;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness. (17-24)

D)    The Tables Turned

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless--
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mishapes the beauteous forms of things:
--We murder to dissect. (15-28)

III)  Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, Upon Revisiting the Banks of the Wye, July 13, 1798

A)    Form

i)        blank verse—iambic pentameter

ii)       Ode-like without the technical structure of an Ode—high impassioned language

Ode: a long, usually stately lyric poem in stanzas of varied metrical pattern employing a high style

M. H. Abrams on the “greater Romantic lyric”: "In the course of [his] meditation the lyric speaker achieves an insight, faces up to a tragic loss, comes to a moral decision, or resolves an emotional problem. Often the poem rounds upon itself to end where it began, at the outer scene, but with an altered mood and deepened understanding which is the result of the intervening meditation” (201).

iii)     Yet language almost conversational; but elaborate, much higher, philosophical; but not “poetic” in the traditional sense (i.e. without tricks, personifications, apostrophes, etc.); Not allusive—figuration more real

                                  Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:--feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As may have had no trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten'd--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

v)      Five verse paragraphs

(a)    First sets the scene

(b)   Second—removes from scene to show use of memory

(c)    Third—short questioning which gives over to affirmation

(d)   Fourth—back to here; the story of development which culminates in the “now” of the poet

(e)    Fifth—turn from memory to the present, from the scene to the poet’s “second self” (i.e. Dorothy)

B)     Landscape/Nature

i)        What is the relationship between the landscape and the speaker?

ii)       What was he like when young? What was wrong with his relationship with Nature?

iii)     What has happened to change him? What is his new attitude?

iv)     What has he learned? Where did he get this knowledge?

v)      How do we get this knowledge?

vi)     Is the invocation of Nature a withdrawal from the social/political?

(a)    homeless becomes hermit

(b)   hedgerows become little lines of sportive wood run wild

                            and wreathes of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees,
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some hermit's cave, where by his fire
The hermit sits alone.

(c)    date—revolution but shaped into “still, sad music of humanity”

C)    Development

i)        How many “versions” of the speaker are present in the poem?

(a)    Speaker—present time of the poem

     Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur.--Once again
Do I behold
these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore,

(b)   Poet in the city—next most previous time

     But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities
, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,

(c)    Poet at some point in time matured (“learned to look on nature”)

     Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,

(d)   Poet when he visited in 1793 (“Five summers . . .”)

(e)    Poet as young man (17? that would be about 1787)

                                        And so I dare to hope
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first
I came among these hills
; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
What then I was, The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures.

ii)       How do we know who we are? where we came from?

iii)     What was wrong with the earlier visits?

                                      when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved
. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
What then I was, The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied
, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye
.--That time is past,
 

iv)     How is he better now?

                                       other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Not harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence
that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts
; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused
,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains
; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature
and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

D)    Memory

i)        What does memory do?

ii)       Where does “continuity” come from? (the connection to “one life”)

iii)     We would see a “tale in everything”

E)     Restoration/Redemption

i)        Nature restores/refreshes; food for after-thought (“when oft upon my couch I lie / In vacant or in pensive mood” / They flash upon the inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude”)

                      for [Nature] can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our chearful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings.

ii)       Also the “still, sad music of humanity” and a “presence that disturbs me”—these thoughts redeem the physical world from its appetite, lust, animal passion, reason, the domination of the senses, because it is only through the senses that one can eventually go beyond them (imagination provides access to Nature but also eventually overcomes Nature)

iii)     Worshipper—deeper zeal of holier love

                      And that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love.

iv)     Turn to Dorothy—who is redeemed? Can we be?

     My dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her . . .
                        Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations!

October 22

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Notes for "Ode to the West Wind"

from Shelley's A Defence of Poetry (1821)

. . . for [poetry] acts in a divine and unapprehended manner, beyond and above consciousness. . . It awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar (924)

Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred. . . What were virtue, love, patriotism, friendship-what were the scenery of this beautiful universe which we inhabit; what were our consolations on this side of the grave-and what were our aspirations beyond it, if poetry did not ascend to bring light and fire from those eternal regions where the owl-winged faculty of calculation dare not ever soar? Poetry is not like reasoning, a power to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say, "I will compose poetry." The greatest poet even cannot say it; for the mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness; this power arises from within, like the color of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our natures are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure. (926)

Language that associates poetry with prophecy, with inspiration in the old-fashioned sense. The "fading coal" probably a reference to Isaiah's calling to be prophet:

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo,this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice ofthe Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (KJV, Isaiah 6.6-8)

If this poem is prophecy, how do we account for the ending of the poem, which some readers might see as trivial or even clichéd?

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" (70)

This trope or metaphor for regeneration is certainly not very original. If what makes the poem ultimately full of hope and "forward-looking thoughts" is the promise of renewal by the changing of the seasons, such a "content" seems inadequate to the poem's robust form. In other words, it seems like a lot of wind to blow such puny leaves.

To get at the larger implications of the poem, the way in which the "content" of the poem IS deserving of such formal care, let's look carefully at a handful of phrases that seem to move us and poem into consideration of ever-larger concerns.

"Pestilence-stricken multitudes" (5)

leaves, of course, but what do we SEE in this image?

"ghosts" (3) moves us away from leaves to people

traditional epic simile (in footnote) comparing leaves to people

Further complications: leaves "driven" by breath of Autumn's being is equated to ghosts "fleeing" from an enchanter

driven and fleeing are not the same

wouldn't an enchanter hold the ghosts against their will

"The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, / Each like a corpse within its grave" (7-8)

This passage focuses on the wind's function in delivering the seeds to their place of implantation

Similar words and tropes link it to the first five lines, but here with strongly conventionalizing tendencies: i.e. this is a miniature nature poem expressed in the framework of Christian pastoral

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (KJV, John 12.24) [Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (RSV, John 12.24)]

Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die (KJV, 1 Cor. 15.36) [You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (RSV, 1 Cor. 15.36)]

These are passages that deal with the resurrection of the human body

winged seeds -> Christianity -> death/rebirth -> crucified/empty tomb

Note also recurrence of verb "drive"—here the wind is "driving" the seeds "like flocks to feed in air"—the Autumn wind taking on the function here of its sister, the Spring wind; in other words, already regenerating.

These two parts, the first obscure, the second clear (note "clarion" in line 10; from Lat. clarus (clear), the wind as destructive and constructive, together provide us with an introduction to the poem.

"Destroyer and Preserver" (14)

As footnote makes clear—two Hindu deities

Siva the destroyer

Vishnu the preserver

Not separate gods but aspects of single power or force (along with Brahma the creator)—ultimate oneness of all; the two forces, destructive and constructive, Autumn and Spring, not seen as separate but as aspects of one force

When Vishnu sleeps, creation is withdrawn to a seed to be sown again when he awakes (recall the winged seeds)

Cycles of rebirth, but now extended out from Western Christian narrative and iconography to a world cultural (at least in early 19th century Europe) perspective

"Angels of lightning and rain" (18)

angel means literally messenger

in Judeo-Christian imagery what do we see when we think of angels?

guardian angel—angel as protective spirit

wrathful angel—angel with flaming sword (such as those guarding the gates of Eden)

"clarion" of line 10 reminds us of Gabriel, whose trumpet will announce the end of time (apocalypse, not cycles of death and rebirth)

in Islam

angels created from light

carry out God's commands—the very processes of Nature are actually performed by angels

the point here is the ever-expanding scope of the poem

seasonal change has moved

to the Christian narrative of resurrection

to the Hindu narrative of world rebirth

to Christian apocalypse and Islamic jihad (jihadists literature essentially apocalyptic in nature)

For more on world cultural, see line 25 "the dome of a vast sepulcher" which seems to bring together the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (in Jerusalem supposedly marking the site of Jesus' tomb) and the Dome of the Rock, built nearby on the Temple Mount (and also supposedly the site of a Mohammed's night journey in the company of Gabriel on the winged horse named "Lightning")

"some fierce Maenad" (21)

Paraphrase: The cirrus clouds seem scattered ahead of the storm like locks thrown forward by the wild orgiastic dance of a maenad.

more world-cultural links (Greek mythology)

orgiastic dancers—Bacchic drunkenness—rituals of the dying and reviving vegetation gods (Orpheus, Pentheus, actaeon, Adonis, Attis, Osiris)

"a pumice isle in Baire's bay" (32)

pumice = lava = volcano

Vesuvius and Pompeii

radical change in the heart of the earth

dark side of natural change is that it is both a preserver and a destroyer

flow of lava creates a new land mass ("pumice isle") and destroyed (but preserved) Pompeii

volcano as metaphor for change and creation—eruption

recall "burst" in line 28 and winged seeds of first stanza

"And saw in sleep old palaces and towers / Quivering" (33-34)

Imperial Rome

great civilizations that have fallen?

might look at the "Chorus" from Hellas (795-796) for more on Shelley's treatment of this idea

"pumice isle" and "underwater ruins" reveal that change in the natural world is paralleled by revolution in the social and political worlds

ever-expanding domain of the poem

seasonal change has moved

to the Christian narrative of resurrection

to the Hindu narrative of world rebirth

to Christian apocalypse and Islamic jihad

to "natural" and catastrophic change that destroys and preserves

to human initiated change that destroys and preserves

"thorns of life" (54)

passion and death of Christ

for Shelley, Christ is a human hero who metaphorically embodies the dying-resurrecting god

but for his audience, there would be no such distinction—therefore, but is strange or dangerous about this image? (the poet is Christ?)

note how this stanza struggles with equivalences

begins by recounting the different metaphors of the poem in the subjunctive mood (contrary to fact statements); leaf, cloud, wave

note how leaf, cloud, wave points to elements earth, air and sea

What's the missing element? Fire

Structure of the poem

Five stanzas

each stanza a sonnet with interlocking terza rima rhyme scene and a closing, almost epigrammatic couplet

First three stanzas treat of three separate elements of creation (leaf-earth, cloud-air, wave-sea)

Fourth stanza, the one that should focus on fire begins with "I" (first person pronoun previously withheld)

The poet is fire (promethean)

The poet is both the subject and the object of the wind's operation, both cause and effect, both active director and passive instrument

In terms of the myth, was Prometheus the thief of fire or the agent by which it was restored to its rightful place?

Note how these lines demonstrate this problem.

We begin with the poet as object "Oh lift me"

We end with the poet as subject "I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!"

This collapsing of subject and object reaches its peak in grammatical error (literally grammar cannot contain the poet's claim)

"Be thou me" should be "Be thou I"—is he asking the wind to be like him, or is he asking to be like the wind? Is he an object of the wind (me) or is he subject (I)?

"unextinguished hearth" (66) and "Ashes and sparks" (67)

here we have fire—reminded of volcano imagery earlier

clearly turned from vegetation and seasons (cycles) to something more like cataclysm and apocalypse

but fire here is humanized by hearth

what are hearths?

the domestic hearth

but also the forge (think Blake's The Tyger)

And what happens when we scatter "Ashes and sparks"?

Recall also the prophecy of Isaiah and Shelley's use of it in his Defence of Poetry: creativity is like a fading coal and an inconstant wind

That passive construction where creativity looks like inspiration in the old-fashioned (Plato) sense is where the last stanza begins

"Make me thy lyre" the Aeolian harp, a common Romantic conception of inspiration and creation, where the poet is inspired by Nature (the wind)

But notice the shift from the poet as an instrument of nature (a lyre played by the wind) to the poet as controlling and directing Nature

Notice the imperatives—the poet ordering Nature, not striving "with thee in prayer in my sore need" as in line 52, but ordering

"Be thou, Spirit fierce, / My spirit"

"Be thou me"

Drive my dead thoughts"

"Scatter . . . my words among mankind"

"Be through my lips to unawakened earth / The trumpet of a prophecy!"

This last instance can be read as following the earlier image of the lyre; where "through my lips" means merely something like "using me"

It could also be read as moving in an opposite direction; where "through my lips" means something like "transformed by my agency"

The human subject to the cycles of the season, so many winged seeds awaiting rebirth?

Acted upon by forces, shaped to some unknown purpose, moved towards some unseen end?

Legislated or legislator?

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

A rhetorical question, which implies the assurance of future change where that change makes us the passive actors in world historical drama?

Or a real question, which asks with some anxiety about the coming Spring? If by the "incantation of this verse" we can become the wind, become the principle of change as opposed to it target, then we make history rather than history making us.

But this remains unresolved in the poem. The original last line was

"When Winter comes Spring lags not far behind"

What is the effect of Shelley's change?

 

October 20

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Notes for Marriage of Heaven and Hell

  1. Blake's persona—the bard or the prophet
    1. Voice of prophecy
      1. knowledge of the Bible (i.e. sounds like the Bible, esp. OT)
      2. Why prophecy?
        1. failure of the present society
        2. warning to change their ways
        3. what we must do to save ourselves
  2. Key historical moment
    1. "Now is the dominion of Edom & the return of Adam into Paradise" (plate 3, 205)
    2. French Revolution
      1. Reasons for it
        1. conjunction of new ideas about natural rights and the worst kind of abuses of power
          1. natural rights—man is born free but everywhere he is in chains
          2. abuses—old economic system collapsing under emerging capitalism
    3. Industrial Revolution
      1. economic displacement (whole handcraft industries disappear overnight)
      2. mechanization of rural economy
      3. flight from country into the city
      4. giant disparities of wealth
  3. Blake's Revolution—Do Away with the Old Order
    1. Restraint in All Forms
      1. Religion a key mechanism of restraint
      2. "Religion"—God and his Priest and King
        1. Institutional religion distant from its original
        2. Plate 11 (209)
          1. Poets animated the world with spirits
          2. These spirits or gods and goddesses eventually made into a system of beliefs
          3. This system of beliefs becomes an institution (the Church) (i.e. enslav'd by rules)—"Priesthood" as Blake calls it
          4. The "Priesthood" tells us that "the Gods had ordered such things"—i.e. we are enslav'd by the gods that we in fact created
          5. "Thus man forgot that All deities reside in the human breast" (209)
        3. 4th Memorable Fancy (plate 17, 212)
          1. "Angel" (they are all bad—conformists) shows "future"
            1. stable (Jesus) -> Church (institution) -> Vault (burial of Jesus and true religion) -> Mill (grinding machine = Reason = systematic philosophy) -> Winding Caverns (maze of rationalism) -> Abyss (emptiness of spirituality)
            2. This journey leads to a cliché of Christian Hell (213-214)
            3. Angel returns to his mill and the "vision" vanishes
              1. "Hell" becomes heaven (214)
              2. "Sitting on a pleasant bank . . . harper sings":
                "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water & breeds reptiles of the mind"
              3. Universal Man (the speaker) realizes that "Hell" was entirely the work of the Angel's "metaphysics"
            4. Speaker takes Angel on a journey to show him his future
              1. Church filled with monkeys eating each other
    2. Reason (and the Systems it produces) as a form of Restraint (i.e. Mechanism)
      1. The Voice of the Devil (plate 4, 205)
        1. Cartesian duality is the error (205)
          1. body/material/fallen/evil vs. soul/spiritual/divine/good
          2. everything associated with body is bad; everything associated with soul is good
        2. Blake says NO
          1. body/material/pleasure is power and energy; soul/spiritual side is turned into something passive and obedient
          2. Energy (i.e. passion, desire, imagination) does not lead us astray—rather energy is everything
      2. How God and Satan switched places (plate 3, 205)
        1. "Without Contraries is no progression"—but contraries are too much for small minds; therefore
        2. from these contraries "spring what the religious call Good & Evil"
          1. "Good is the passive that obeys Reason"
          2. "Evil is the active springing from Energy"
          3. "Good is Heaven"
          4. "Evil is Hell" (plate 3, 205)
        3. "Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling" (plate 5, 206 (top))
        4. Even Milton makes this error and calls the active principle of energy Satan and the principle of passivity and obedience God
          1. but he was "a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it"—that's why Satan is almost a positive character (206)
    3. Obedience and Restraint—The Greatest Enemies
      1. "The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl that every thing was white" (plate 10, 209)—conformity
      2. "The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow" (plate 8, 208)
      3. "He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence" (plate 7, 207)
      4. "For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his own cavern" (plate 14, 211 (end of plate))
    4. Solution? a Marriage of Heaven and Hell
      1. Restore the Energy of Hell (which is really the Energy of Heaven)
        1. The Proverbs of Hell (plate 7ff, 207ff)
          1. "The pride of the peacock is the glory of God." (plate 8, 207, etc.
        2. How do we restore the energy?
          1. Admit the power of the lions and eagles: "When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius" (plate 9, 208: eagles, lions, tigers, etc. fierce, independent, powerful, sublime, non-conforming, ambitious, uncontrollable
          2. Do not restrain them: "One Law for the Lion & Ox is oppression" (plate 24, 216)
      2. When restraints are lifted . . . we achieve a seeing that goes beyond perception and becomes visionary
        1. "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite" (plate 14, 211)
        2. Isaiah the prophet on true prophecy: "I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in everything" (plate 12, 209)
        3. The true greatness of the world:
          How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
          Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five? (plate 7, 207)

October 13-15

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Some critical views on Austen's Northanger Abbey

Gilbert and Gubar

  1. NA an attack on patriarchy
  2. Patriarchy takes the form of books—or fictions or narratives
    1. Narratives of female initiation
      1. Domestic—the Assembly Rooms of Bath
      2. Gothic—Northanger Abbey
    2. Catherine trapped in these and in the clichéd narratives of others
      1. Isabella's script—coquette after a husband
      2. John Thorpe's scripts
        1. He's a man's man
        2. Catherine is in love with him
        3. She's a wealthy heiress (this is the script that carries over to the general)
    3. Austen does not reject the novel
      1. Status deprived just as are the women who read (and write) them
      2. NA relies heavily on conventionality
        1. Obviously as parody
        2. But also as key to the more serious parts of the novel
    4. Austen does not reject the gothic
      1. Female gothic (Radcliffe) rejected because it implies dangers are exotic (far from home)
      2. Austen wants to locate the Gothic exactly in the English countryside
        1. What's more terrifying than a laundry list?
        2. Henry's attack on her naïvete turned back on him (136)
        3. Catherine's realization that she was right about the general (170) (Does Henry ever apologize and admit that Catherine was right? Of course not.)
        4. Real imprisonment
          1. Lack of education and life experience
          2. Lack of financial independence
          3. Lack of mobility (how hard is it for women to move around in her novels?)
    5. Failure of families and the Father
      1. General to Austen's novels
      2. The General fails to provide a home for his children
      3. He fails Catherine
      4. Henry Tilney as a second father (who takes charge of her education)
        1. Catherine's joking substitution of instruct vs. torment
        2. Henry supplies the plot (his "gothic" tale in the carriage ride)
        3. His misogyny in which she will need to find a place
  3. Catherine's own story
    1. Her double (Isabella) must be revealed and punished
    2. She must submit to Henry's authority
    3. She must renounce her sense of being in danger

 

Johnson, Claudia L. "The Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey: The Authority of Men and Books." Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1988). Norton, 306-325.

  1. Austen's defense of the novel tied to her authority
  2. The Gothic a politically charged form (Paulson)
    1. French Revolution, War, Reign of Terror transform the prisons, towers, tortures of the gothic
    2. Gothic as Not the opposite of the ordinary but found everywhere
    3. Gothic Trappings are Parodied, but not Gothic Fear of the tyrannical father
  3. Tyranny
    1. Henry's claim: "Man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal" (51)
    2. This power of refusal compromised
      1. Bullying by the Thorpes and by James—moral and physical coercion transferred to drawing room (59, 98-100, 66-68, 99-100)
      2. Bullying by Henry
        1. He is an "expert" on all things feminine
        2. Refers to Eleanor as his "stupid sister" (78)
        3. He tells Catherine what she ought to write in her journal (15)
        4. He silences her (she's fearful of having an opinion "in opposition to that of a self-assured man" (31))
        5. "Fixes" her language
          1. Great stickler for language—he overpowers women with corrections
          2. something shocking in London
            1. he sees this as a sign of female ignorance (and the need for male correction)
            2. the connection between the "horror" of political unrest and the "horror" of the gothic, though, makes perfect sense in the historical context (and also when one considers that both are responses to repression)
    3. Catherine's Lesson
      1. From Gothic Novels she learns
        1. to distrust paternal figures
        2. that everything is not as it appears
  4. Promises
    1. Key to political thought—the basis of government and self-government
    2. Critiqued by Austen
      1. Henry's "dance" contract—dancing linked marriage and fidelity
      2. Henry's criticism of "faithful promise" (as a kind of redundancy like "free gift")
        1. But is it given that in this novel almost all promises are not kept
          1. Isabella Thorpe the most obvious promise-breaker
          2. General Tilney the most sinister promise-breaker
        2. Henry fails to see the promise-breaking of his own brother
          1. Catherine's response marks her maturation, even detachment from Tilney's judgment (151)
    3. Guardians of public trust are here socially destabilizing figures

 

Hoeveler, Diane. "Vindicating Northanger Abbey: Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, and Gothic Feminism."

  1. Valorization of the masculine woman
    1. In patriarchy, the highest praise for a woman is to be told that she thinks like a man (118)
    2. Originates in Wollstonecraft
    3. But Wollstonecraft also shows that for women of all classes, life really is like a gothic novel—a series of "insults, humiliations, deprivations, and fatal or near-fatal disasters" (118).
    4. The response is the "ideology of gothic feminism", that women "earn their superior rights over the corrupt patriarchy through their special status as innocent victims" (119)
  2. Being a Victim
    1. Victim earns rights through suffering
    2. Victim passively suffers
    3. The meek shall inherit the gothic earth
  3. Bath and the Abbey
    1. The sentimental and the gothic equally subjected to parody
    2. Isabella the sentimental, Catherine the gothic (sort of)
    3. Both worlds are equally unreal, rejected by and rejecting of Catherine
    4. Catherine is the heroine because she is "too dense to understand clearly … what is going on around her" (122)
      1. She is therefore an ideal victim
      2. She is victim of oppression, malice and fraud
  4. Conventions of the Gothic and Gothic Feminism
    1. Heroine: Catherine not a heroine (or is the meaning that no women are heroines except of their uninteresting lives) (123)
    2. Fairy Tale Plot—the Double Suitor Plot
      1. John the false suitor and Henry the true one
      2. Substitute parents (the Allens)
      3. Mrs. Allen the gothic duenna figure but again she doesn't really fulfill this role
      4. General Tilney the villain—the obstacle in the marriage plot
    3. Education of the Heroine
      1. Henry
      2. Only men can educate women; and if they choose not to the women must suffer in their ignorance
      3. Gossip and Rumor
        1. This side conversation posits that gossip and rumor are "unsanctioned 'feminine' discourse[s]" (126)
        2. Power exists by controlling the paths along which information can flow
        3. Gossip and rumor undermine this power
        4. But John Thorpe is the source of gossip and rumor
          1. Is this a feminizing of him? No
          2. Being able to deal in gossip and rumor is a sign of membership
          3. Therefore, gossip and rumor by women remains "unsanctioned"
    4. False and True Mentor
      1. Isabella the false
      2. Eleanor the true
        1. She has the more conventionally gothic plot (128)
  5. Three Incidents
    1. The General and the Abbey
      1. He is patriarch and tyrant
      2. He is a usurper of the Abbey
      3. Abbey a sign of female disinheritance
        1. The abbey a reminder of female community, living in seclusion from men and escaping the demands of marriage and childbirth
        2. The usurpation leaves the reality of women as property, sources of income, breeders of heirs (130)
    2. Catherine's Discoveries
      1. Linen and laundry list—"visible residue of women's lost and unpaid labor for the family. The domesticities, rather than reassuring Catherine, should have horrified her" (131).
      2. The absent mother
      3. Henry's "anti-gothic" rebuke
        1. Masculine newspapers vs. female novels
        2. Education has eradicated evil (but who gets educated?)
        3. Laws protect us (protect whom?)
    3. Expulsion and Flight
      1. Anticlimax
      2. Smoothed over by plot machinery
    4. Result: "the domestic is gothic … we cannot think any more about the domestic without at the same time recognizing its gothic underpinnings, its propensities for violence, abuse, and exploitation of women" (129)

October 8

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Female Conduct Manuals

One of the contexts for Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women was the widespread available of "ladies' conduct manuals." These conduct manuals generally argued that women were always dependen t on men, and recommended that women should be (or at least appear to be) meek, submissive, grateful, gentle, delicate, modest, feminine, ignorant (of anything important) and virtuous. Well known conduct books were:

Emile by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762) (Wollstonecraft singles out Rousseau on several occasions.)

Sermons to Young Women by the Reverend James Fordyce (1767) (The Janeites amongst you might recall that at the end of chapter 14 of Pride and Prejudice Mr. Collins tries to read this book to the Bennet girls but is "rudely" interrupted by Lydia.)

A Father's Legacy to his Daughters by Dr John Gregory (1772) (Wollstonecraft directly addresses Gregory on several occasions.)

Jean Jacques Rousseau

On being weak and passive: "they affect to be incapable of lifting the smallest burdens, and would blush to be thought robust and strong"

On mutual dependence: "We could subsist better without them than they without us"

On submission: "They must be subject all their lives to the most constant and severe restraint, which is that of decorum. It is therefore necessary to accustom them early to such confinement, that it may not afterwards cost them too dear; and to the suppression of their caprices, that they may the more readily submit to the will of others."

On being pleasing to men: "girls ... are fonder of things of show and ornaments ... from whence we see their taste plainly adapted to their destination ... almost all of them learn with reluctance to read and write; but readily apply themselves to the use of their needles."

"I would have a young Englishwoman cultivate her agreeable talents, in order to please her future husband, with as much care and assiduity as a young Circassian cultivates hers to fit her for the harem of an Eastern bashaw."

On education: "the education of women should always be subject to men. To please us, to be useful to us, to make us love and esteem them, to educate us when young and take care of us when grown up..."

James Fordyce

On being weak and passive: "... in your sex manly exercises are never graceful ... a tone and figure of the masculine kind are always forbidding ... men of sensibility desire in every woman soft features ... a form not robust and demeanour delicate and gentle ... Nature appears to have formed the (mental) faculties of your sex, for the most part, with less vigour than those of ours, observing the same distinction here as in the more delicate frame of your bodies."

On submission to neglect: "I am astonished at the folly of many women who are still reproaching their husbands for leaving them alone, for preferring this or that company to theirs, when, to speak the truth, they have themselves in a great measure to blame ... had you behaved to them with more respectful observance ... studying their humours, overlooking their mistakes, submitting to their opinions in matters indifferent, ... giving soft answers to hasty words, complaining as seldom as possible ... your house might be the abode of domestic bliss."

On being pleasing to men: "Never perhaps does a fine woman strike more deeply than when composed into pious recollection ... she assumes without knowing it superior dignity and new graces ... the beauties of holiness seem to radiate about her."

Dr John Gregory

On being ignorant: "Be ever cautious in displaying your good sense. It will be thought you assume a superiority over the rest of the company. But if you have any learning, keep it a profound secret especially from the men, who generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts and a cultivated understanding."

On being pleasing to men: "When a girl ceases to blush, she has lost the most powerful charm of beauty.

The men will complain of your reserve. They will assure you that a franker behaviour would make you more amiable. But, trust me, they are not sincere when they tell you so. I acknowledge that on some occasions it might render you more agreeable as companions, but it would make you less amiable as women; an important distinction, which many of your sex are unaware of."

On reserve and modesty: "One of the chief beauties in a female character is that modest reserve, that retiring delicacy, which avoids the public eye ..."

On concealing one’s love: "Violent love cannot subsist, at least cannot be expressed, for any time together, on both sides, otherwise the certain consequence however concealed, is satiety and disgust."

Notes on the Rights of Woman

  1. Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    1. Wollstonecraft's Biography
      1. grows up in abusive household—protects mother from tyrannical father
        1. becomes lady's companion but returns to nurse mother
        2. leaves home for good; works as seamstress then schoolmistress
      2. turns to writing to pay off debts after school fails
        1. Thoughts on the Education of Daughters published in 1786
        2. Meets Joseph Johnson who publishes Mary, A Fiction (1788)
      3. becomes part of Johnson's circle (Blake, Paine, Priestley, Fuseli, Godwin, Barbauld and Joel Barlow)
        1. A Vindication of the Rights of Men published anonymously in 1790; with her name in 1791 and earns her reputation
        2. Publishes A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792
      4. Her public behavior stigmatizes her and her argument
        1. enamored of Fuseli and publicly pursues him
        2. goes to Paris in 1793 to forget Fuseli; meets and "marries" Gilbert Imlay
        3. has child with Imlay (Fanny); they split
        4. returns to England and finds Imlay living with actress; attempts suicide
        5. he sends her to Scandinavia; she returns in Oct 1795 to find him living with a different actress; attempts suicide by jumping into the Thames
        6. publishes her letters to Imlay in attempt to win him back; letters win admiration of Godwin
        7. pregnant with Godwin's child, they marry; child born (Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley); Wollstonecraft dies
        8. Godwin publishes his Memoir of Wollstonecraft, which details all of the above; his attempt to honor her ends up scandalizing her
      5. Even some modern feminists still upset over the damage Wollstonecraft did to women's rights. While her writing advanced the cause, her lifestyle tainted it for decades if not centuries
    2. Dedication to M. Talleyrand-Perigord (who advocated female education but along Rousseau lines—trained for subservience to men)
      1. Refers to wives as slaves (305)
      2. Sees women as coerced into their domestic role (305)
    3. Introduction
      1. offers no apology for treating women "like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood" (308)
      2. women's education creates weak women
        1. women "are rendered weak and wretched"—not naturally so but made (306)
        2. "false system of education" to blame (306-7)
      3. women's treatment makes them dependent
        1. treating women softly softens them; treating them as dependents trains them to be dependent (308)
        2. women "objects of desire" (309)
        3. women's "artificial weakness" (the weakness they have been trained up to) "produces a propensity to tyrannize, and gives birth to cunning" (309)
    4. The Rights and Involved Duties of Mankind Considered
      1. Society must be judged by how well it enables (310)
        1. Reason
        2. Virtue
        3. knowledge
      2. How would we (Europe) be judged? (not in Longman 3rd  or 4th or 5th )
        1. slavery (235)
        2. a history showing power gained through vice (236)
        3. subordination of man to man
          1. monarchy (310)
          2. example of army and navy (310-1)
          3. clergy and universities (311)
    5. The Prevailing Opinion of a Sexual Character Discussed
      1. Women are assumed to not have enough Reason to acquire Virtue (311)
        1. and yet they must be virtuous
        2. this lack is the product of a poor education (311)
        3. frequently compared with children—yet children can grow into rational beings while women cannot (312)
      2. Example of Milton
        1. He makes women subservient to men because they lack reason (312)
        2. He has Adam argue for an "rational" partner (312-3)
      3. Women enslaved by their lack of proper education
        1. education by snatches if at all (313)
        2. always secondary to beauty (313)
        3. compared to soldiers
          1. gallantry like coquetry (314)
          2. both acquire manners (rules) without morals (thought) (314)
      4. Enslavement desired by the "sensualists"
        1. Rousseau a sensualist—woman as plaything (241-2) (not in Longman 3rd or 4th)
        2. sensualists claim that the "whole tendency of female education ought . . . to render them pleasing" (315)
      5. Dr. Gregory's conduct book
        1. assumes certain traits in women "natural" (316)
        2. encourages lying, weakness, dependence (316)
          1. Wollstonecraft refutes
            1. encourages friendship over love (316)
            2. speaks against passion (316)
        3. goal is to get a husband
          1. women must look beyond a husband
          2. proper education—"a well stored mind would enable a woman to support a single life with dignity" (317)
      6. "Teach them, in common with man, to submit to necessity, instead of giving, to render them more pleasing a sex to morals" (319)
    6. The Same Subject Continued
      1. Different education and treatment of boys and girls (320)
        1. refutes claim that girls naturally like sedentary activities while boys like active activities
        2. Her evidence and experience—gender differences socially constructed not natural
      2. Dependence of body leads to dependence of mind (320)
        1. women encouraged to be "delicate"
        2. a kind of tyranny exercised by the weak
      3. "It is time to effect a revolution in female manners" (321)
        1. Men compared to viceregents (colonial?) (321)
          1. because they rule the weak they are bound to become tyrannical
        2. Women trained to dependence are left defenseless when they lose their protectors (fathers, brothers, husbands)
        3. Women trained to be coquettes cannot be adequate teachers of the young
      4. Man and woman must be the same
        1. there are no "sexual" virtues (i.e. virtues that belong to one gender and not the other)
        2. wealth and female softness debase mankind
    7. Concluding Reflections
      1. Sexual distinction is arbitrary (325)
      2. From the tyranny of man, the greater number of female follies proceed (325)
      3. Compares women to dissenters (325)
      4. "Asserting the rights which women in common with men ought to contend for, I have not attempted to extenuate their faults; but to prove them to be the natural consequence of their education and station in society. If so, it is reasonable to suppose that they will change their character, and correct their vices and follies, when they are allowed to be free in a physical, moral, and civil sense" (326).
    8. Some Discussion Questions
      1. Describe Wollstonecraft's conception of human nature -- what are the main human faculties or characteristics, and how should they be ranked and otherwise related?
      2. According to Wollstonecraft, how are women seen in relation to these conceptions of human nature?
      3. What does it mean to call something "natural"? How does Wollstonecraft use this key term?
      4. On 308, Wollstonecraft opposes "virtue" to "elegance." How does she define virtue, and how is it opposed to elegance?
      5. How does Wollstonecraft's style and manner of argumentation generate authority for her as a writer addressing inequities in gender relations?
      6. On 312 and elsewhere, what does Wollstonecraft suggest is the key to men's continuing domination over women? (treat them like children)
      7. What is Wollstonecraft's criticism of Milton on 312-3 and elsewhere?
      8. Why is education so important a concept to Wollstonecraft on 320 and elsewhere? You might relate this question to her view of human nature.
      9. Explain Wollstonecraft's analogies between women and soldiers on 313-4. What do such comparisons allow Wollstonecraft to argue about the "naturalization" of perceived gender differences?
  2. Barbauld's "The Rights of Woman"
    1. Read as refutation of Wollstonecraft
      1. opening stanzas sarcastic
      2. focus on womanly qualities
        1. native empire o'er the breast (feeling)
        2. soft melting tones (sentiment)
        3. blushes and fears (womanly persuasion)
      3. subjugation of man by too-potent women
      4. commanding is not itself freedom
      5. but this empire will also end (similar to Eighteen Eleven argument)
    2. Barbauld though criticizes same expectations of women
      1. Woman as "angel pureness which admits no stain" speaks to expectations of women's behavior
      2. Women turned oppressors is no better than male oppressors
    3. End of Empire?
      1. note frequency of empire, imperial
      2. one oppressor or another doesn't matter—oppression itself must end
      3. higher level synthesis
        1. separate rights are lost in mutual love
        2. not ruled and rulers, but mutuality
        3. submission and humility defeat pride; replace rule with respect
  3. Southey's "To Mary Wolstoncraft"
    1. How does Southey's poem honoring MW reinscribe common attitudes towards women?
      1. stock images from love poetry at beginning
      2. "turn not thou away" motif of conventional love poetry
      3. invocation of female figures problematic
        1. Joan of Arc to a British audience
        2. Roland confused with medieval romance—maybe even worse, Madame Roland, a victim of the terror
        3. Corday—more French Revolutionary types

Colley, "Womanpower"

  1. Female patriots (1814 Taunton celebration where women participated), but what kind of patriots
  2. Position of Women
    1. Marriage laws
      1. women lose all property
      2. become property of husband
    2. Women worked
      1. urbanization created larger servant class
      2. presence of servants in middle-class tradespeople households meant greater leisure time for women
    3. Cult of maternity
      1. especially during war
      2. "Increase of Children a Nation's Strength" (240)
    4. Separate Spheres
  3. Anxieties
    1. Urbanization and servant class
    2. Leisure time for women
    3. "masculine women"—women dressing like men
    4. Women having a public presence
      1. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
        1. "unnaturalness" of her participation in election
        2. Irony—Fox's slogan "man of the people" if adopted by the Duchess ("woman of the people"?) would have made her a prostitute
    5. Paradox—anxiety over perceived freedom increased the determination to restrain them
      1. Colley's point—the separate spheres were so constantly being prescribed because they were so constantly being violated
  4. War
    1. French feminized and British masculinized (252)
    2. Public role of French women seen as collapse of deference (and therefore order)
    3. French threat
      1. war portrayed as the loss of a way of life (a way of life that women were mostly in charge of maintaining)
      2. Women victims of French violence (Marie Antoinette) often figured as violation
      3. British women portrayed as safe (for now)
    4. Cult of heroism
      1. Women jeer Leicestershire militiamen who refused to fight in Ireland
      2. Women form subscription to support statue of Wellington in Hyde Park (so much resplendent male nudity)
    5. Patriotic activism
      1. Traditional female virtues (domestic) transformed into public activities
        1. making flags and banners
        2. organizing charities
        3. why we fight—to protect the women and children
  5. Separate Spheres
    1. Rousseau
      1. Women's place in home
      2. where she was center of morality
      3. because civic virtue was connected with the family, women were now justified in intervening in politics
    2. Women must stay in the private sphere and yet exercise moral authority in the public sphere
      1. This clearly seen in women's involvement in anti-slavery campaign

 

 

October 6

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First a quick review. Some terms:

Notes on Industrialization

Here follows a bit of history for those interested in such things.

1)      What does it mean to say the Industrial Revolution “broke out”?

a)      Some time in the 1780s, and for the first time in human history, productive power of human societies became capable of constant, rapid and up to the present limitless multiplication of people, goods and services—what economists call the “take-off into self-sustained growth” (29)

b)      “To ask when it was complete is senseless, for its essence was that henceforth revolutionary change became the norm.” (29)

2)      Revolution initiated by Britain (29)

a)      The source of Britain’s advantage?

i)        Not scientific and technological superiority

ii)       Not educational or theoretical—an educated person would read Adam Smith, yes, but also French economists as well.

b)      The Right Conditions (31)

i)        Some power vested in people (certainly since 1649)

ii)       Private profit and economic development seen as the primary object of government policy

iii)     Agricultural advances

(1)   increased production and productivity to feed a rapidly increasing non-agricultural workforce

(2)   surpluses for cities and towns

(3)   provide a mechanism (land) for the accumulation of capital

c)      1793-1815 War eliminated all rivals

3)      The Example of British Cotton(33)

a)      Cotton industry created and nourished by colonial trade

i)        Cotton and slavery linked (34)

(1)   money from Indian cotton goods used to buy slaves

(2)   Slaves worked the cotton plantations of the West Indies

(3)   Planters used their money to buy cotton checks (a kind of fabric)

b)      The triumph of the export market over the home (35)

i)        by 1814 Britain exported four yards of cotton cloth for every three used at home

ii)       by 1850 the ratio was thirteen yards to eight

c)      Exploitation of colonial and semi-colonial markets

i)        Britain’s monopoly established by war, other people’s revolutions and her own imperial rule (35)

ii)       The Case of India (35)

(1)   systematically de-industrialized

(2)   former net exporter turned into net importer

(a)    in 1820 imported 11 million yards

(b)   in 1840 imported 145 million yards

d)      Exploitation of labor

i)        In colonies, slavery could be used to expand production (36)

ii)       In British Isles, mechanization introduced because of lack of labor (36)

iii)     Putting out system, domestic labor

4)      Consequences

a)      Social

i)        transition to new economy created misery and discontent (38)

(1)   Luddites (machine-breakers)

(2)   reaction against “fund-holders” (those who bought war bonds and were guaranteed a high rate of return for their investment)

b)      Economic flaws of the new economy (according to capitalists)

i)        Boom and bust cycle—seized on by critics of capitalism

ii)       Falling profits over time

(1)   Causes

(a)    competition

(b)   lowered production costs due to mechanization

(2)   “Remedies”

(a)    wage-cutting

(i)      substitute cheaper workers

(ii)    mechanize

(iii)   wages can go only so low—capitalists blame Corn Laws (tariffs attached to grain to shield them from foreign competition)

iii)     Shortage of profitable investment opportunities

(1)   Iron, coal and steel (43)

(2)   railway (44)

(a)    began as means of transporting coal

(b)   later became a consumer of coal pushing for greater coal-mining

(3)   comfortable and rich classes accumulated income so fast and in such vast quantities that they could not spend or invest it (45)

(a)    No attempt made to redistribute this wealth for social purposes

c)      Redeployment of Economic Resources (47)

i)        labour shifted from agriculture to industry (47)

ii)       agriculture mechanized and rationalized (due to fewer labourers)

iii)     enclosure to put more land under the plow (48)

iv)     rural destitution increases rural flight of workers (49)

v)      the right kind of worker (49)

(1)   factory life—the time clock; mechanized not seasonal

(2)   women and children seen as more tractable and cheaper (50)

(3)   de-skilling

5)      Conclusion

a)      “In this rather haphazard, unplanned and empirical way the first major industrial economy was built. By modern standards it was small and archaic, and its archaism still marks Britain today. By the standards of 1848 it was monumental, though also rather shocking, for its new cities were uglier, its proletariat worse off than elsewhere, and the fog-bound, smoke-laden atmosphere in which pale masses hurried to and fro troubled the foreign visitor . . . And both Britain and the world knew that the Industrial Revolution launched in these islands by and through the traders and entrepreneurs, whose only law was to buy in the cheapest market and sell without restriction in the dearest, was transforming the world. Nothing could stand in its way. The gods and kings of the past were powerless before the businessmen and steam-engines of the present” (51-52).

 

Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience

"The Lamb"

"The Little Black Boy"

"The Chimney Sweeper" (from Innocence)

"The Chimney Sweeper" (from Experience)

"The Tyger"

"A Poison Tree"

October 1

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Helen Maria Williams, from Letters from France, 1796 (Longman 135)

Edmund Burke, from Reflections (Longman 113)

This king, to say no more of him, and this queen, and their infant children, (who once would have been the pride and hope of a great and generous people,) were then forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in the world, which they left swimming in blood, polluted by massacre, and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated carcases. Thence they were conducted into the capital of their kingdom. Two had been selected from the unprovoked, unresisted, promiscuous slaughter, which was made of the gentlemen of birth and family who composed the king’s body guard. These two gentlemen, with all the parade of an execution of justice, were cruelly and publicly dragged to the block, and beheaded in the great court of the palace. Their heads were stuck upon spears, and led the procession; whilst the royal captives who followed in the train were slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells, and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of women.

Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Men (Longman 126)

Arthur Young, Travels in France

See Longman, p. 161

Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

[Plate 1]

[Plate 2]

[Plate 3]

[Plate 4]

[Plate 5]

[Plate 20]

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