Compassion and forgiveness are usually good things, but in "Christabel" these positive attributes do nothing but get people into trouble. Bad guys are really good at taking advantage of qualities that aren't normally seen as weaknesses. Geraldine takes advantage of both Christabel's compassion for a damsel in distress and Sir Leoline's desire to forgive his old friend. Of course, we don't know how this will ultimately play out in the end, but it sure doesn't look good at the beginning. That'll teach them to care about others.
Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness
What do you think would have happened if Christabel ran away at the first moan from the other side of the tree, or simply decided to leave Geraldine out there in the cold?
How would the story change if Sir Leoline still held a grudge against his old buddy, Lord Roland?
Do you think Geraldine and Christabel could ever be friends? Why or why not?
Did Christabel choose to let Geraldine into the castle out of compassion, or did she do it simply out of her duty as the daughter of a knight? How can you tell?
Chew on This
The poem shows us the hidden dangers of caring for strangers.
There is nothing noble about Christabel's compassion. In fact, it's less compassion than an extreme case of naiveté.