Study Guide

Christabel Bells, Bells, Bells

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Bells, Bells, Bells

A bell may not be one of those symbols that is super-obvious, but there are so many in the poem that it's hard to ignore them. Overall, bells are a tool of communication. In many religions, they are used to call people to worship or to announce important events. Neither Christianity nor Paganism is any exception. Throughout the poem, the bells communicate a reminder of Christabel's dead mother. Sometimes this reminder is good, like when they ring as a reminder that Christabel's mom is lingering about and playing guardian angel. Sometimes they're bad, though, like when they serve as a daily reminder that Sir Leoline lost his wife in childbirth. Christabel herself lets us know how important bells are to this poem. After all, there's a bell right there in her name.

  • Lines 23-24: This is the first time we see Christabel's name in the poem, and the second line states that she is very much loved by her father. Though the bells that we see later remind Leoline of his dead wife, this living, breathing bell reminds him of the love that still exists in the world.
  • Lines 200-201: On her death bed, Christabel's mother told the friar that he should ring the bells twelve times on Christabel's wedding day so that she might hear about her daughter's happiness all the way up in heaven.
  • Lines 332-359: Leoline commands the bells to be rung every morning to remind everyone just how miserable he's been since his wife died. The bard tells us that the bells can be heard far and wide every morning, which probably doesn't help Leoline's popularity much with all his third-shift peasant workers.
  • Lines 361-362: Here the bells are trying to do their job of chasing off all the bad guys, but they don't do a very good job. Geraldine pulls a Swifty and just shakes it off.

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