Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191

In “Correspondences," which is generally considered to be one of Baudelaire’s finest works, the poet writes as narrator yet does not include formal characters. A reader could interpret the narrator as a character communicating to a listener (the reader), especially when considering the fact that Baudelaire uses both title and verse to convey rich and intricate concepts.

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Firstly, the title, “Correspondences," speaks to Baudelaire’s theory on the interconnectedness of the spiritual and physical worlds and that between nature and man. Indeed, all facets of the poem are thought to be the antecedent of the symbolist movement. This belief stems from the influence that Swedish philosopher and mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg had on Baudelaire, as evinced specifically in “Correspondences." For example, Baudelaire uses imagery and symbols regarding the five senses. He writes of “perfumes” (smell), “child’s flesh” (touch), and things “sweet as oboes” (taste, sound) and “green as prairies” (color). Furthermore, Baudelaire proclaims that nature is a “temple” communicating with mankind through personified pillars: nature’s “forest of symbols” who observe man. Therefore, a reader may construe the symbols of senses and nature as Baudelaire’s characters throughout the poem.

Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 136

There are not characters in the traditional sense in this poem: representations of individuals who act and think and change, perhaps, as a result of some conflict. The speaker, however, is a character, as we must assume the vast majority of the speakers of poems are (rather than assuming the speaker is the poet, which can lead us down inappropriate or limiting interpretive avenues). This particular character, the speaker or narrator of the poem, is evidently an individual who finds mystical correspondences among nature, the divine, and our own minds. The speaker sees the divine in nature, describing it as "a temple" with "living colonnades," made of the tall green trees. He sees nature as being filled with symbolism that we can interpret and which will invariably produce a profound effect on our senses and souls.

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