Coleridge had a rough life, and at the time he knew a lot of women he could blame for that. His family background and the relationships he developed as an adult led him to be exceptionally sensitive to, and interested in, the struggles of women. Some scholars feel that "Christabel" is particularly insightful on a few different aspects of the feminine experience. Not only does he explore blossoming sexual urges in young women through Christabel's encounter with Geraldine, but he also considers her role as a motherless daughter and an estranged companion, once her father turns his back on her. It's all pretty heavy stuff, especially for a poet who isn't even in the girl club.
Questions About Women and Femininity
How would the overall tone and meaning of the poem change if Christabel were Christopher? Or what if Geraldine were Gerald?
How would Christabel's experiences in life be different if she had lost her father instead of her mother at birth?
What feminine qualities do the men in the story exhibit? What do these qualities do to the reader's perception of these men?
Chew on This
Coleridge's view of women seems to include a general lack of self-control when it comes to sexual urges.
Though both are women, Christabel represents the ultra-feminine while Geraldine represents the masculine.