Charlotte Smith's On Being Cautioned against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because it was Frequented by a Lunatic

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Charlotte Smith's "On Being Cautioned against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because it was Frequented by a Lunatic"

“On Being Cautioned against Walking on an Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because it was Frequented by a Lunatic,” Charlotte Smith’s sonnet, comments on the poet’s feelings toward this lunatic and the thought process he instigates in her mind. By using different syntax to describe her two characters, Smith draws the attention of the reader to the message in the sonnet instead of the scene on the surface. The structure of the English sonnet also lends to the poem’s power, giving Smith a perfect avenue to deliver her message.

The poem begins by describing the lunatic as a man with very animal tendencies, “with starting pace” and “with wide and hollow eyes” (lines 2-3) These characteristics alone give the reader a vivid image of how this man acts, and immediately sets low expectations for his character in a social and intellectual sense. His primitivism shows as “his cold bed upon the mountain turf” (6) is mentioned, furthering the image of a wildly sav...

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