I am having trouble understanding what this essay prompt is asking of me. I am a bit lost on how to begin to outline a thesis. In his Biographi Literaria, Coleridge states that “…the incidents...

I am having trouble understanding what this essay prompt is asking of me. I am a bit lost on how to begin to outline a thesis.

In his Biographi Literaria, Coleridge states that “…the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real …” (750). Furthermore Coleridge emphasizes that the representation of the subconscious is an integral part of his poetry. Please discuss to what extent the psychology of a character, the subconscious, and the supernatural are of importance in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and/or “Christabel,” and/or “Kubla Khan.”

Could someone help me please?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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By far the most interesting poem to discuss with regard to this prompt, in my opinion, is "Kubla Khan," which famously was a poem that was inspired by an opium dream that Coleridge himself had. Many critics argue, however, that the poem, whether or not it was really opium inspired, represents a critical exploration of the role of the artist and the act of creation. This is because a parallel is drawn between Kubla Khan and the fantastical "pleasure dome" he creates with its "caves of ice" and the act of creation that a poet engages in, particularly in the way that the speaker, towards the end of the poem, desires to build the pleasure dome himself. Yet, when he thinks of this, he anticipates that he will be rejected and viewed as a figure of wonder by those around him, as the following lines illustrate:

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
 
The psychology of the speaker, the supernatural and the subconscious all come together in this poem through this description of what the speaker imagines people will say and do to him when he engages in artistic creation. Firstly there are supernatural overtones in the description of the speaker's "flashing eyes" and "floating hair," and he is treated as if he is a figure of evil or fear through their response of "weaving a circle around him thrice." Perhaps this demonstrates a subconscious need of the speaker to be treated as if he were a god-like figure, and to have others that are afraid of him. It definitely marks the role of a poet as being almost prophet-like, as the act of creation is compared to something like witchcraft or having tremendous god-like powers that other mere mortals do not possess. The supernatural elements in this poem which were such an important part of Coleridge's poetry therefore are essential in this presentation of what it is to be a poet and what kind of act it is to write a poem. 
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