What are some specific ways Coleridge employs the supernatural in Christabel?

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Coleridge uses the supernatural in Christabel primarily as a way of exploring the age-old conflict between good and evil.

In the poem, we are presented with a stark contrast between the supernatural figure of Geraldine, almost a cross between a witch and a vampire, and the title character herself, who...

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Coleridge uses the supernatural in Christabel primarily as a way of exploring the age-old conflict between good and evil.

In the poem, we are presented with a stark contrast between the supernatural figure of Geraldine, almost a cross between a witch and a vampire, and the title character herself, who is given to us as the epitome of innocence and feminine virtue.

Before long, Christabel, and everyone who comes into contact with Geraldine, falls under her wicked spell. Geraldine's extraordinary beauty, which beguiles and intoxicates in equal measure, is most certainly not of this earth. It is a transcendent, ethereal beauty, one of many supernatural elements that Coleridge incorporates into his unfinished gothic masterpiece.

By using so many supernatural elements, Coleridge only adds to the general sense of intrigue that pervades the poem. The supernatural structures the narrative of Christabel, making us anxious to know what happens next.

The fusion of the supernatural with the natural produces some striking imagery that is a testament to Coleridge's poetic imagination. We can observe this remarkable faculty in action when the Baron has a terrible nightmare in which he sees a snake coiling its way around a dove's neck. Although the Baron recognizes the dove as representing Christabel, he's so enchanted by Geraldine that he doesn't put two and two together and realize that she's the snake.

The elements of the Baron's dream, the snake and the dove, may be natural, but the interpretation to be put upon them—that Geraldine is an evil creature not of this world, determined to destroy the innocent Christabel—is thoroughly supernatural.

This is entirely in keeping with Coleridge's fascination with the eternal struggle between the forces of light and darkness, a struggle whose illustration requires the poet to draw extensively upon gothic and supernatural elements.

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