Discuss "To the Reader" by Baudelaire.Please tell your analysis of the poem: "To the reader" by Baudelaire. 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Written as a preface to Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), "To the Reader" establishes a theme which is the danger and potential evil which can result from boredom. At the close of the poem, he gives this boredom a name: Ennui. This means a feeling of weariness or dissatisfaction and in this context, this is a dissatisfaction and indifference to one's awareness of one's own virtue and/or sin. 

The speaker of the poem mocks the reader's sins and indulgences and scoffs at the reader's pathetic attempts to make amends for those offences ("our repentings are limp;"). Addressed to the reader, this is also a general indictment of the evils of humankind. Since boredom and indifference are linked to sin in this way, we can make a contemporary comparison to the ways which the media's overexposure of violence has desensitized many to the impact of violence. This idea of desensitization is present here but more in terms of becoming immune to the sins we commit ourselves. This is illustrated in the line, "Without being horrified-across darknesses that stink." 

However, Baudelaire was making a particular criticism of the individual's hypocrisy: that people deny the evils they commit. The speaker implores readers to recognize Ennui as their brother, as if to say, "recognize the indifference in your own hearts" as kind of a wake up call. Invoking Ennui as a lazy monster, smoking a hookah, as our brother, the poet describes the lazy indifference with which we treat our own sins. That lazy denial of our own evil is the reason for the hypocrisy he proclaims in the last line. 

 

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