Coleridge´S A Vision In A Dream: A Fragment

1239 words - 5 pages

Kubla Khan’s description of his stately pleasure-dome contains many picturesque elements which appear to be incorporating all the perfect components of nature as a whole. The contrasting images of the described landscape portray and further accentuate the awe-striking male figure against the mysterious and sensual oriental women. The characteristic mystery of these oriental women remains uncovered as Coleridge objectifies them with his stereotype, and identifies them as part of the mystical and enchanting Utopia he imagines. Contrarily, Coleridge bestows the male figure with such a dominating and awe-inducing character that, he places the coercive male figure superior to the women he describes. As he plunges deeper into his definition of paradise, Coleridge creates parallelism between nature and the human characters he depicts. In “A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment”, Coleridge uses the powerful imagery of nature to encapsulate both the underlying politics of Kubla Khan’s time and the objectification of oriental women to create a compelling piece of work.
Politics at this time and place did not portray oriental women as individuals differentiated by their ethnicities, but rather, they were thought to be collectively mysterious and exotic figures. The vague geography in the poem signifies the irrelevance of differences among the orients. Coleridge portrays an Abyssinian maid, a damsel with a dulcimer, and a woman wailing for her demon-lover—women with different ethnicities—all within his pleasure-dome. Furthermore, when he mentions these women, they are incorporated into the background scenery of the poem; the women aren’t given any character. For example, in the lines “As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted/By a woman wailing for her demon-lover!” the female character is merely present to strengthen the image of the seemingly supernatural setting. If the image of the woman wailing for a demon lover, not just any regular lover, was not incorporated, then the image of the haunting moon wouldn’t feel as orientally foreign. (Shmoop) Coleridge objectifies the women by identifying them with figures of mystery and exoticism to adorn his perfect vision of a pleasure-dome, and by doing so, he strips the female figures’ of their individualities.
Coleridge’s choice of diction to depict nature corresponds to a feminine character; words such as “fertile ground“, “deep romantic chasm”, and “incense-bearing tree” suggests that the narrator is alluding to a female. The “fertile ground” and the “incense-bearing tree” might refer to a woman’s fertility, and the “deep romantic chasm” is like the woman’s womb. Though the narrator incorporates many feminine images into the depictions of his pleasure-dome, females are not prominent figures in his work. In fact, the females mentioned in the poem remains subtle throughout the narrator’s description of nature, as if oriental women only exist for aesthetic pleasure. For example, in the lines “A damsel with a...

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