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Travel Writing Essay

1740 words - 7 pages

Lady Mary Montagu’s letters are a form of travel writing that contributes to the exploration of issues; such as feminism, gender, health, class and culture through an epistolary form. During the time in which Lady Mary Montagu wrote her letters travel was a means for commerce and trade. Contrasted to this form of travel writing, is Oscar Wilde’s Symphony in Yellow. This is in the form of a poem, which is simplistic in its structure and appearance but not in its content or meanings. The title of the poem suggests that it has a substantial connection to music; however the reader is presented with a poem centred on the narrator’s view of a location. Similar to the form of poetry Oscar Wilde’s ...view middle of the document...

Contrasting to popular beliefs of the veil from a different culture and religion, many see it as a form of oppression even today however she does not. Lady Mary Montagu being a woman beyond her time sees beneath the obvious connotations to see the true reasons as well as the positive. Her open attitude allows her to see society both subjectively and objectively. She is both understanding and does not stereotypically analyse situations. To the reader her experiences provide a varied account of different cultures and the gender norms within them. “They believed I was so locked up in that machine, that it was not in my power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband.” Here again she acknowledges the way other cultures differ from her own. Judith Still recognises the way in which she is; “concerned not to fall into the Orientalizing clichés of Early Modern men's travel writing, which typically represents Muslim women as imprisoned in harems, enslaved, starved of sex and sexually voracious...”
Her uniqueness in character and behaviour is demonstrated from the start of her letters through to the very last ones. The attention to detail gives the letters more of a descriptive insight. As well as this, using an epistolary form allows the reader to create an intimate relationship with Lady Mary Montagu. Her accounts become more personalised and informal to the reader, to the point they can both emphasise and sympathise with her. The development in character mentioned before is also more believable and apparent due to the personal and conversational tone of the letters.
Oscar Wilde’s purpose in using the form of a poem when writing Symphony in Yellow suggests a combined relationship between music, art. It is in general similar in a number of ways to the musical form of a symphony. This can be seen through movements and changes within the different stanzas. The reader’s senses and emotions are appealed to through these movements as does the rise and fall of tempos in a symphony. This focus on art was a significant part of Oscar Wilde’s life. He was an important icon in the aesthetic movement. The title itself has reference to an art collection by James Whistler where the colour of yellow focused on the Aesthetic era. This movement continued from 1860’s to the 1900’s and after his death it was said to have brought an end to the aesthetic movement. Oscar Wilde challenged the ways of Victorian thinking; he was greatly influenced by English writers such as John Ruskin and Walter Pater, who argued that art was an important aspect of life.
The form when observed from a rhythmic perspective is alluring. The ABBA rhyming scheme that is followed through entirely provides a flow. This continuity adds to the image being created through his words. This poetic form is said by many to be “similar to Tennyson’s; In Memoriam”. Similar to Tennyson’s poem Oscar Wilde’s causes readers to stop and think about the elements mentioned. It is extremely...

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