Study Guide

Christabel Good vs. Evil

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Good vs. Evil

The theme of good versus evil shows up in the most classic way in "Christabel": allusions to Christ's struggle with Satan himself. Coleridge makes it clear that Christabel is as pure as a baby unicorn before she finds a creepy lady in the woods. And if that isn't enough to convince you that Christabel has been cast as the good guy, then the fact that "Christ" is the first part of her name ought to do the trick. Geraldine, on the other hand, has the eyes of a snake and hisses at Christabel in each of the two parts of the poem, and we all know that Satan has snakes on speed dial.

Questions About Good vs. Evil

  1. At what point in the poem do you think Geraldine works her magic on Christabel for the first time? What is it about this moment that makes you think that Christabel is now under Geraldine's spell?
  2. How do you think Geraldine's effect on Christabel's father might play out?
  3. Do you believe that Christabel is the main target of Geraldine's evil plans?
  4. How does Coleridge's use of language reflect the experiences of the characters as they struggle with the conflict of good versus evil?

Chew on This

Geraldine is not actually evil at all. She is simply possessed by an evil spirit that is directing her to commit these sins against poor Christabel and her father.

Coleridge can't seem to make up his mind when it comes to his description of Geraldine, but this may be an intentional choice to obscure her true nature.

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