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A Defense of Geraldine The role of Geraldine in Coleridges Christabel is often viewed as the wicked seductress who corrupts and shatters the life of a young innocent maiden However after close examination of the poem we cannot regard this to be her sole purpose The role of Geraldine is quite complex and can be better understood by examining the way in which Coleridge portrays her inconsistently throughout the poem In addition if we consider the approach Coleridge took when writing the poem as set out in Biographia Literaria we gain great insight into the underlying purpose of Geraldines role When we look at the way in which Geraldine is portrayed in the poem we see that Coleridge bestows qualities both good and evil upon her provoking both our sympathy and disgust making it impossible for us to make a concrete decision about her nature When Geraldine is first introduced in the poem she is described as exceedingly beautiful l68 We are sympathetic towards this damsel brightl58 when we learn that she has been seized by warriors and left to die Not only do we feel sympathy for Geraldine so does Christabel and accordingly comforts fair Geraldine and offers the service of Sir Leolinell105-7 However before they reach Christabels castle Coleridge indicates through many clues that this lovely lady may not be what she appears to be For example at the castle gate the lady sank belike through painl129 so that Christabel must lift her over the threshold gate l132 When Christabel suggests they give praise to the Virgin all divine Geraldine states I cannot speak for wearinessl142 And finally the mastiff bitch who has never till now uttered yell beneath the eye of Christabelll150-51 moans angrily in her sleep as they pass These incidents show how superstitions hold that evil cannot enter a home unassisted demons cannot offer prayer and that animals can sense danger However because Coleridge has placed the poem in
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