Accessing the Supernatural Realm
Samuel Coleridge creates a divine sense of majestic curiosity through his piece, Christabel. One central theme that evokes this feeling is the subliminal sense of being in touch with the supernatural realm. The way that the text flows creates a dream-like state of being detached from reality. This poem also suggests forbidden access into the magical realm, which contains moments of delight and moments of ruin. Due to the fact the Coleridge was known for being an excessive Opium user, this underlying suggestion may possibly be derived from his feelings towards his drug addiction. This text does an amazing job at transforming our imagination of things that are not helpful or safe for the characters and turning it into something intriguing that draws in readers and then chases it with a negative afterthought, leaving a bad taste in our mouths.
The character of Geraldine can arguably be claimed as a character who serves as a corruption and a connection between the other characters and the supernatural world. One of the first instances that cause questioning of her character is when she is on the way home with Christabel and falls under the iron gate. After Christabel picks her up and helps her, Geraldine a shift occurs as she “mov’d as she were not in pain…”(ln 129). As their journey continues and they finally make it to Christabel’s bedroom, the idea that Geraldine has the ability to see the “bodiless dead” continues to arise a curiosity of what motive and intentions she actually has. Geraldine calls off the spirit of Christabel’s mother in a way that provokes readers into feeling that it is a warning, that she has claimed Christabel for her own and that he has a greater power than humans an even spirits. “Off wandering mother! Peak and Pine! I have power to bid thee flee… Off, woman, off this hour is mine- Though thou her guardian spirit be, Off, woman, off ‘tis given to me”(ln 199-201; 205-207).
As the scene continues, and the two women are finally in bed together, a negative vibe suddenly takes over the text as Geraldine curses Christabel, “…in the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell” (ln 255). This statement confirms that she beholds a greater ability and power. The way that she states this does not present her motive to be positive, or for Christabels benefit which develops the theme of magic and the supernatural by placing Christabel’s “good” against her “evil.” The power that Geraldine holds is evident through the vision that Christabel has. “…a vision fell upon the soul of Christabel, The vision of fear, the touch, and the pain…The touch, the sight had passed away…she had no power to tell” (ln 438-441;452, 461-462).
“For what she knew she could not tell, o’er mastered by the mighty spell” (ln 607-608). This moment reinforces the power that Geraldine has and provides for an almost creepy look paired with fear and yet at the same time Coleridge manages to grab our attention and twist our expectations and twist this scene into something that we are drawn towards. Coleridge may have used this poem as an outlet to describe his life and experience with opium. A forbidden pleasure and ticket to the “dark side” and something that effects life and experiences greatly, a love hate relationship with the drug. Although Coleridge surely had other motives or thoughts towards the text, I think it may have an underlying description of his life and feelings, regardless if that was intended or not. This poem paints a wonderful portrait for us that we can identify with emphasizing a theme of forbidden curiosity and magical connections to the supernatural.
Damrosch, David, and Kevin J.H. Dettmar, eds. The Damrosch Anthology of British Literature. Fifth ed. Vol. 2A. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.