Logical Analysis In The Erlking

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Hallucinations and Revelations: Logical Analysis in the Erlking As the “Erlking” chronicles the last moments of life of a young boy in a gothic setting, the hurried last words between a father and son are heard and leave the reader with the question, what was real? The child fears the Erlking who is supposedly following them as they ride quickly on horseback through the windy night, where as the father claims nothing at all is there, and that each fear can be logically explained and discredited. Due to this, it is easy to assume that the “Erlking”, by Goethe is making an anti-Enlightenment statement, and because of that, all events and occurrences can have a solely supernatural explanation. However, because of the power struggle between…show more content…
This demonstrates that if one is not logical, where logic is the core of the Enlightenment, misfortune will follow you, therefore supporting the Enlightenment. When the son is dying in his father’s arms he “sees” the supernatural and says “Father, don’t you see the Erlking?”, to which the father replies “’My son, it’s a wisp of fog’” (“Erlking” 6-8). What the child said was not based in logic, while what the father said was incredibly realistic in comparison. This piece of evidence represents the dynamic between the child and the father where he says logical comments in response to the child’s comments that are riddled with imagination. After the continuous demonstration of logic versus supernatural, as this exchange occurs several times and is paralleled throughout the poem the reader finds out that “In his arms the child was dead”(“Erlking” 32). The death of the child effectively ends the supernatural versus logic argument because the death of the child symbolizes the death of imagination, which is essentially the enlightenment, while also displaying that those who exhibit those traits and submit to the supernatural will not survive. Each time the child saw something that his imagination altered, the dad would proceed to explain, through logic and reasoning, how they were actually inanimate objects. This process occurs three times throughout the…show more content…
So by having Goethe paint the supernatural as wicked, it can be seen that he supports logic and the Enlightenment. Before the child dies, he makes one last supernatural claim: “My father, my father, now he’s grabbing hold of me! Erlking has done me harm!”. Four lines later the death of the child is introduced with the arrival at the farmhouse (“Erlking” 27-32). The supernatural was clearly the cause of the child’s death, therefore making the supernatural the murderer in this instance. Due to this, the supernatural is viewed as inherently bad, and by painting it in a bad light; this piece is a positive response to the

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