January 9, 2018
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Sibyl is the ancient Prophetess that makes a deal with Apollo for 1,000 years of life, but forgets to include eternal youth in her deal. There are many caves considered to by hers, but this particular cave is the official “Antro della Sibilla” or Entrance to Hell or the Underworld. It is supposed to date back to 600 BC, but Sibyl dates back much further than 600 BC. Sibyl is mentioned in the Odyssey. She is the one that Aeneas looks for, searching through her cave for her. She’s mentioned in the works of Ovid, she’s on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, she’s in Dante’s Inferno and in poetry written by TS Elliott.
The Gates to Hell or the Underground are also associated with the ancient Sumerians, with accounts of aliens having created a world within our world, etc.
The caves that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her companion are visiting in this story are famous, but were unexplored and feared, along with the idea of exploring Hell or the Underworld, as forbidden.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, typically going against convention, would definitely have visited this cave and with all the symbolism and parallel meaning that visiting such a cave would carry with it.
The expansion of consciousness, the idea that God themed religions with boundaries and rules were something to be tossed off the back and the notion that Hell and the Underworld would logically then be just as mistakenly held in forbidden mystery as the secrets of God, being a God to worship and for whatever reason God existed and required worship, she would explore beyond the imposed boundaries of religion in all directions, Heaven, Hell and everything in between, leaving nothing untouched or unexplored, morality included.
[Sometimes I have thought, that, obscure and chaotic as they are, they owe their present form to me, their decipherer.]
This quote reminds me of the last few lines of “Mont Blanc” and more importantly the magic of the human mind. It is a good point to make that without the human mind, there would be nothing to decipher and without the human mind, what would there really be for us to live for? Our minds create the world we live in because they show us what we see. How Dr. Olsen-Smith visually sees and interprets nature and material existence is perhaps far different than the way I see it.
Although she claims her “only excuse thus transforming them, is that they were unintelligible in their pristine condition”, it is still a good example of the power and beauty of the human mind.
This quote actually brought me back to Wordsworth and the discussion of the concept of half-creation that he brings up in “Tintern Abbey”. As the concept is basically the mind’s ability to process what it sees and determine that thing’s value to the person perceiving it, Shelley’s character determining that these forms are only so because he is “their decipherer” seems to actually be taking a leaf from Wordsworth’s book, though she chooses to make this comment about art and not nature.
This might have something to do with the fact that Mary Shelley’s father was friends with William Wordsworth, and he let her sit in on conversations with him and other notable literary scholars. It’s interesting to see how many of the people we are studying actually knew each other!
I agree wholeheartedly with what you said, especially about how all these authors intertwine with each other thus seeing hints of others in their own writings. MWS shows these connections, I think, the best of all and it fascinates me that they are each their own author, but use others as well–which is okay, I think.
Mary Shelley is a reader we read before asking for the men and women of the world to give women a chance to express their intelligence. Mary in this story has created a character who does not seem to live with the same restrictions of character and knowledge that many women would have faced in her time. This is a wonderful example of creating a world you would like to see and hoping that creates change. I couldn’t help but see a spark of inspiration for the popular gaming character Lara Croft.
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February 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm
See in context
February 16, 2018 at 6:37 pm
February 12, 2018 at 10:48 pm
February 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm
February 12, 2018 at 4:28 am
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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