Coleridge’s infant son is the silent listener in the conversation poem "Frost at Midnight." Hartley is also mentioned at the end of “The Nightingale.” The boy seems to be a sort of muse incarnate for Coleridge, who finds his greatest joy in seeing the infant and in imagining the future the boy may have, raised as he will be by one who appreciates nature and has felt the loss of its presence in his own urban upbringing.
Kubla Khan is an explorer who explores the land of Xanadu in “Kubla Khan.” He decrees that a "stately pleasure dome" be built, demonstrating his authority over others and the natural (and perhaps supernatural) world.
Kubla Khan is meant to be a figure who evokes opposing moods in the reader. He is amazing and admirable in his exploration and creation of unearthly marvels, but he is also someone to "beware" in the latter half of the poem, for his wonderful qualities come from the same source--his almost (or truly?) supernatural connection to the natural world.
The Lady (Coleridge's lover, Sara Hutchinson)
The "Lady" is addressed in the conversation poem "Dejection: An Ode." The Lady is the source of the speaker's heartbreak. Since Coleridge was married at the time he wrote "Dejection," it is possible he channeled the sense of longing for something highly desirable yet unobtainable into his presentation of "the Lady." She comes to represent the distant beloved, for whom the lover can only pray good dreams since he cannot be in her presence himself to guarantee her happiness.
William Wordsworth accompanies Coleridge on an evening walk in "The Nightingale." William is also one of the silent listeners in this conversation poem.
Wordsworth was Coleridge's collaborator on the seminal Lyrical Ballads, which ushered in the Romantic age of poetry. From close friendship with William and his sister Dorothy Coleridge drew much of his inspiration to create the kinds of experimental (yet often nostalgic) poetry for which he is famous.
Dorothy Wordsworth, who is the sister of William Wordsworth and a close friend of Coleridge, accompanies Coleridge in an evening walk in "The Nightingale." Dorothy is also one of the silent listeners (along with William)in this conversation poem.
The young woman who listens to the nightingales
In "The Nightingale," Coleridge tells William and Dorothy Wordsworth about a young woman who comes every evening to a grove near an abandoned castle in order to the listen to the songs of the nightingales.
Christabel, the main character in the poem "Christabel," is an innocent and devout young woman who rescues Geraldine. She represents purity at risk in the face of deceitful beauty and sinful lust.
Christabel is not simply a helpless damsel in distress, however. She fights boldly against Geraldine's influence and can see danger where her own father sees only an attractive young lady and a political opportunity. Christabel is actually able to resist Geraldine briefly when she prays and momentarily breaks the spell of silence the evil woman has placed upon her.
In "Christabel," Geraldine is the young woman who is rescued and cared for by Christabel. Geraldine is one of the earliest literary depictions of the female vampire, although she also follows in the tradition of the "white woman" ghost stories.
Geraldine represents carnal desire and the darker side of human nature. She portrays herself as a victim of male violence, but in fact performs her own acts of violence against the innocent soul of Christabel. At times beautiful, Geraldine's true nature is revealed in the scarred and deformed body she hides under her white dress and the snakelike hissing she directs toward the resistant Christabel.
In "Christabel," Sir Leoline is the ailing father of Christabel. His impotence is paralleled in the "toothless mastiff" which guards his home. He is depicted as the loving father who betrays his love and trust of his child in favor of a dangerous and beautiful woman.
Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine
In "Christabel," Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine is the father of Geraldine. He was once boyhood friends with Sir Leoline.
Bracy the Bard
In "Christabel," Bracy the Bard works for Sir Leoline and is ordered by Sir Leoline to take Geraldine back to her father.
Coleridge’s Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Coleridge’s Poems is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
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