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Symbolism & Modernism

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Symbolism and Modernism

L'Idéal by Charles Beaudelaire

Opposing to realism and naturalism, symbolism uses metaphors, analogies and other literary devices in order to create its own "ideal", perceiving reality as it wants to perceive it and not as it truly is. Charles Beaudelaire, 19th century writer, often called "father of modern criticism " is one of the most known French poet to be part of the symbolist movement. In Charles Beaudelaire's poem "L'Idéal", the use of symbols and the structure and style of the poem characterizes it as part of the symbolism movement.

In " L'Idéal", Beaudelaire uses symbols to understate a double meaning. For instance, in the second verse, he states "Car je ne puis trouver parmi ces pâles roses/Une fleur qui ressemble à mon rouge ideal", referring to the faint roses versus rosy cheeks on a unhealthy woman. Moreover, Beaudelaire's use of vividly opposing words creates a contrasting effect to his poem. For example, he talks about "beautés d'hôpital" to express his understanding of outer beauty in a person. Therefore, Beaudelaire's use of symbolism in his poem allows him to express how one's ideal perception diverts from one's point of view, depending on one's perception reality.

Furthermore, Beaudelaire's style and structure of his poem "L'Idéal" generally grasps the fundamentals of the symbolism movement. Firstly, his use of different types of rhymes, following the classical pattern of ABAB and AABB rhymes, makes classifies his poem as part of the symbolism movement. For instance, the use of ABAB is found in the first quatrin with the rhymes "vignettes/vaurien/castagnettes/mien". Also, the use of AAB rhymes (poor rhymes) is found in the third and fourth verses with for example "abîme/crime/autans".

In addition, Beaudelaire's use of numerous analogies and metaphors characterizes his poem as part of the symbolism movement. For example, Beaudelaire talks about important historical characters such as the famous poet Garvani to illustrate beauty. He also talks about Lady Macbeth when referring to crime, murder and madness in someone. Nonetheless, he refers to other very important historical characters such as Eschyle, Michel-Anges and the Titans. His several use of analogies truly affirm that his poem "L'Idéal" is considered a symbolist piece of literature.

In conclusion, Charles Beaudelaire's poem "L'Idéal" veritably is part of the symbolism movement through its use of symbols and its literary structure. As a symbolist himself, Beaudelaire perceived his own reality and ideals, enriching his imagination and dreams through everyday life. "Set your ideal as near to perfection as your imagination



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