Seduction of the Orient in Literature Analytical Essay by scribbler

A look at the Orient in literature as seen in William Beckford's "Vathek: An Arabian Tale" and Samuel Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."
# 151744 | 1,487 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on Sep 09, 2012 in Literature (English) , Literature (Poetry) , Literature (French)

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This paper explores the theme of the Orient and its seduction on the imagination of some of Europe's greatest 18th century writers. In particular, the paper considers William Beckford's "Vathek: An Arabian Tale" and Samuel Coleridge's "Kubla Khan." First, the paper analyzes Beckford's work, detailing the protagonist's quest, in an oriental setting, to achieve his goals of ultimate power and knowledge. It also notes the seduction theme in the work, citing that its incarnation is the desire for power. The paper then considers Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan" which speaks about the human need to achieve paradise. The paper concludes by comparing and contrasting Beckford's Gothic novel to Coleridge's Romantic poem.

From the Paper:

"Let us take Vathek for example. The writer narrates the story of a caliph who sets on a journey in order to achieve a treasure. Naturally both the treasure and the trip are to be interpreted symbolically. The story is set in the Arabic environment. The main character, Vathek wishes to acquire supernatural powers in order to achieve his goals of ultimate power and knowledge. In the story he is accompanied by a beautiful princess who also plays a symbolical role. At the end, his task will take the caliph into hell.
The location where the story takes place, the main characters and a variety of other elements belong to the Arabian imagery. The seduction theme is incarnated in the desire to achieve power.
"It is interesting to notice the fact that Vathek knows right from the very beginning that he is embarking for an evil task. The island where he wishes to arrive is the very place where the devil lives. What the reader must understand is that the devil is the symbol of absolute knowledge , but also of sin. The caliph wants to achieve the powers of the devil and his knowledge. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Burke, Kenneth. "Kubla Khan: proto-surrealist poem. In modern critical views: Samuel Coleridge, edited by Harold Bloom, pp.33-52, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.
  • Schroeder, J. M. Kubla Khan or a vision in a dream, S. T. Coleridge, Text analysis, retrieved February 14, 2010 from

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