Coleridge´s A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment Essay

Coleridge´s A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment Essay

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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 f...

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... each other’s stories (Smith, Lecture 1).
Coleridge’s temporary inhabitance of Kubla Khan’s mind has given him access to power that he never had before. The power not only exists in the poem, but it also exists as a form of poetic imagination. Through his utilization of both forms of authority, he creates a masterful depiction of a flawless nature incorporating the objectification of women to heighten the beauty of his dream. Objectification carries along with it negative aspects such as stereotypes, but he was able to use it in such a way that it created beauty. His portrayal of contrasting images in the poem, such as the overpowering male figure against the subtle, fairy-like female figures, suggests a balance between reality and dreams. In “A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment”, Coleridge uses the power of imagination to seek a much wanted reality within his dream.

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