Friday, January 25, 2013

The Devil Imagery in Baudelarie's "To the Reader"

In Baudelaire's poem "To the Reader" he talks a lot about the devil and him as a puppeteer. The Devil can be seen as a puppet master, or someone who control things.  Each day our sins are worse, and he continues to pull our strings, like a puppet master, making us direct ourselves further to Hell, as opposed to Heaven. Is Baudelaire saying that Hell is inevitable? I think Baudelaire is saying that human nature makes it so that even though we've seen people commit sins that we are committing, we continue to commit those sins, because we're unmoved by the effects. Is Baudelaire making a point about human nature?

7 comments:

Linz A said...

I think the devil is portrayed as the puppet master because he knows what to say to tempt us into sin. He knows what strings to pull to get people on the path to hell. I don't think Baudelaire thinks that we are inevitably going to hell - it's more like the Pinocchio Philosophy. One day we'll all be real boys and we can break free of our strings. (Okay, that was bad. Basically, I'm saying that Baudelaire believes that we don't necessarily have to be puppets, it is just that 19th century society is unable to break free of the devil's control.)

Michell D said...

Well... I just typed this measage on my phone but I accidentally hit back. But in my previous message I talked about how Baudelaire is not really talking about human nature, he is really commenting more on the ennui of 19th century society. They are so weak with boredom that they are not strong enough to act for themselves, so the devil acts for them.

Madeline Davis said...

I agree with Mitchell's point on the devil taking advantage of humanity's emotional apathy during the 19th century. Also, I'm a little confused about Baudelaire's description of the devil as a puppeteer. In my mind, puppeteers signify complete control over their puppets and possess the ultimate power to control and manipulate the actions of others. It seems as though Baudelaire would be taking all the blame away from humanity and blaming it on a force of evil we can't control, but he's actually blaming humanity for succumbing to the ennui and knowingly committing sins. I don't exactly see how the two views fit together.

TSHAH said...

I agree with what Mitchell's point, but I think that in this case, the Devil is the 19th century and all associated with it. The 19th century was a time for innovation, progression, industry, capitalism, individual rights, and much more. As a result of this new wave of cultural changes, people began to change too, as they became more materialistic, and consumed by the worldly aspects. This shift in human culture caused people to lose touch with the spirituality that they once had. So I believe that the devil or the 19th century acts to dictate our decisions, where as in the past we were spiritual enough (and in touch with God) to act for ourselves.

Ben Bonner said...

I'm not sure to what extent Baudelaire's "To the Reader" is informed by religion. In one of the threads last week, I talked about how I don't think that you can read religion into "A Carcass." That being said, he definately seems to hold the view that humans are inherently depraved and evil; I think that much is fairly evident in this poem. So while he might not be implying that humans need salvation from Hell, he certainly seems to be implying that humans need salvation from themselves and their self-destructive practices.

Grant Reggio said...

I think Baudelaire had other motives for perhaps incorporating the devil and religion in general than simply pointing out how society is deteriorating by means of ennui. Remember that in his entire poem, we needed to understand the fact that this BOREDOM that's causing society to self-destruct, resulted from a lack of some sort of spiritual sustenance, an emotional void so to speak. I think religion was incorporated additionally to draw attention to the idea of spirituality, being that religion is a path of spiritual purpose and following.

Tyler Dean said...

I definitely think Baudelaire is commenting on human nature. Later in that poem, Baudelaire tells the reader that the main vice of the world is boredom, and everyone is guilty of it. He is definitely saying that humans have no real motivation to do things, and even when we do, our actions are wrong. He takes a very pessimistic view on human nature in the poem, saying we are controlled by some evil force and we really cant make decisions for ourselves. Baudelaire is quite similar to Dostoyevsky in him view of human nature. They both think that society has been corrupted by some evil force that ruins us.