Study Guide

Christabel The Supernatural

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Supernatural

"Christabel" is chock-full of spooky stuff, from witches to ghosts to prophetic dreams. The bulk of the supernatural elements are recognizable bits of folklore and superstition, which the Romantic poets like Coleridge loved to use as a parts of their stories. The intention of all the weirdness is to keep the reader feeling a bit off-kilter. In fact, reading the poem is a bit like walking through a carnival funhouse. Unfortunately, this carnival funhouse doesn't have an end, so we just keep bumping into ourselves in funky mirrors and never really get our bearings again. This may very well be why Coleridge never finished this poem, especially since so much of the inspiration for the poem came from his own psychological struggles.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Is the spirit of Christabel's mother really present the night Geraldine stays in Christabel's bed? Or does Geraldine imagine her there? What parts of the poem support your conclusion?
  2. What evidence can you find in the poem that the speaker himself is actually under Geraldine's spell, along with Christabel and her father?
  3. In what ways does Coleridge use elements of the natural world to convey elements of the supernatural?

Chew on This

Coleridge borrows heavily from folklore and superstitions to drop major hints about Geraldine's true identity.

The overall weirdness of "Christabel" reflects Coleridge's own paranoia and superstitious nature.

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