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What does this line in the poem mean: "How charged with punishments the scroll"?   See...

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rtan6 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:25 AM via web

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What does this line in the poem mean: "How charged with punishments the scroll"?   See "anything else" box below.

It matters not how strait the gate/How charged with punishments the scroll/I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul.

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mitchrich4199 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:03 PM (Answer #1)

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In "Invictus," William Ernest Henley creates a speaker who refuses to give in to the dictates of any other body, whether it be another man or an ideal created by society or religion. The "scroll" in the line that you mentioned is the rules and laws that men must follow. The speaker, in this case, refuses to live by the laws, no matter how much punishment would come at the hands of the law.

The tone of the poem is not one of anarchy or unlawfulness however. This person wants to live the life of a human being and enjoy his own humanity. He "thank[s] whatever gods may be/
For [his] unconquerable soul." We can assume then, that his life or his society or his religion is one that he sees as oppressive. He refuses to be oppressed and this specific line illustrates that he is not scared of the punishments that may come as a result of his refusal.

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bloomingrose | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 26, 2009 at 9:25 AM (Answer #2)

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Strait the gate refers to a narrow passageway, charged with punishments the scroll may be a Biblical reference to the sins written down for each person.

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bloomingrose | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 26, 2009 at 9:27 AM (Answer #3)

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Strait the gate refers to a narrow passageway, charged with punishments the scroll may be a Biblical reference to the sins written down for each person. And I first heard of it in "Invictus," the wonderful movie about Nelson Mandela and Rugby of all things.

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