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Charles Baudelaire Essay

1523 words - 7 pages

Charles Baudelaire, a Poet of Shock

Charles Baudelaire’s poems within Le Fleurs du Mal were all essentially invested in the experience of shock. The notion of shock was a main feeling and expression that was found in modernist literature. The notion of shock was shown through Charles Baudelaire’s poem through his texts focus on the rapid pace of modern life as well as reminiscing of prior occurrences in history. The cultural progression of Modernism produced many different types of expressions from most of society ranging from the notion of alienation, disruption as well as shock. Baudelaire mainly displayed the notion of modernism within his text by taking notice of the flaring ...view middle of the document...

According to Sigmund Freud, the “human protective shield, which has its own energy, guards the nervous system against 'the excessive energies of the outside world'". Freud here is referring, “the excessive energies of the outside world” as what is causing shock within society. This is suggesting that the external world is constantly threatening to shock us. The safeguard of an individual’s body is its consciousness, which protects the subconscious from experiencing shock. As our consciousness allow us to depict the real world with a modern perspective.
Baudelaire in his poems showed society of the world of alcohol, drugs, sex which in a sense pushed at the boundaries of public taste, at that time. Baudelaire with referring to modern society was also describing personal experiences of his own life. Baudelaire’s expression of modern city, society and his obsessions of modern life really shaped is poetry. With his expression and depiction of modern society he instilled shock within his readers as his writings rejected the traditional perspective of life. During his time of writing, old patterns of living were dying and new ones were taking their place. Individuals within society were not accustomed to modern living or writing as they were part of the aristocratic and feudal social order of Paris. Baudelaire represented the new industrialized and bourgeois order that transformed society to be more modern.
“To the Reader” by Baudelaire, the first poem within his collection really stands out as it displays many shocking images that society was not accustomed to. At the same time he was attempting to make a connection to his readers as seen by the title. Baudelaire refers to the devil, as he is to blame for the evil temptations and behavior within the world.
“It is the Devil who holds the threads that move us! It is in hateful objects that we and peace
Each day, one step further towards Hell
Without horror, through the stinking shadows.” (p.1)

Charles Baudelaire shock is shown through his dark perspective of the world that to him is filled with hypocrites, death, and sin. Baudelaire is indirectly saying that society lacks freedom as the devil is in control of the world. Baudelaire also mentions that the boredom in our lives leads to many of our evil actions and in a sense is considered a modern vice.

“And it is Boredom! Eye laden with involuntary tears, Dreaming of scaffolds, pulls upon its pipe
You know it, reader, this delicate monster
— Hypocrite reader, — my likeness, — my brother!” (p.1)

Charles Baudelaire here states the evil lurking inside the average individual within society is partly caused by boredom. Baudelaire is adamant in pushing the point that most individuals are hypocrites as most individuals are capable of committing evil actions. He seems to be very critical of human existence, ironically in the final line of the poem Baudelaire admits to be a hypocrite as well. He is a hypocrite in the sense...

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