Deconstructionism And Ambiguity In Christabel By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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The fragmentary poem “Christabel” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an enigma--full of descriptions that may simply be adding to the atmosphere of the poem, or may actually be symbolic references to the potentially supernatural nature of Geraldine. The relationship between Geraldine and Christabel is full of ambiguity as well--is the reader meant to interpret Christabel merely wanting to help Geraldine, or could she possibly have romantic feelings for her houseguest? Because of these many questions and ambiguities contained within the text, “Christabel” is a good poem to look at through the theoretical lens of Deconstruction, which is a school of literary criticism concerned with double readings and multiple meanings. “Double reading” refers to the way that Deconstructionists analyze a text. The way in which they do this is starting out with a single way to interpret a text, but then going on to show how the language is unstable and does not adhere to one single meaning, thus showing there’s not a single way to interpret the text (Parker, 89). The purpose of this practice is to show how there is not a single meaning for anything, that everything has multiple meanings, and the systems that language is based on is already broken (Parker, 87). In “Christabel”, there are sections that a Deconstructionist reading would be interested in, particularly near the beginning, and after Geraldine is brought to the castle. There In these scenes, there are specific moments that can lend

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