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Tennyson's RaptureTransformation in the Victorian Dramatic Monologue$
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Cornelia D. J. Pearsall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150544

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150544.001.0001

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Tennyson's Rapture

Cornelia Pearsall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter Two examines Tennyson’s dramatic monologue “St. Simeon Stylites” from several angles. The first section, “Victorian End Times,” places St. Simeon’s desire for rapture in the context of Victorian evangelicalism and millenarianism. Pearsall demonstrates the ways in which the theological arguments concerning rapture propounded by the evangelist Edward Irving (a controversial figure who deeply interested Tennyson’s fellow Cambridge Apostles, including Arthur Henry Hallam and Richard Chenevix Trench) influenced Tennyson’s portrayal of St. Simeon. The second section, “The Rapture of St. Simeon’s Stylites,” engages in a detailed reading of Tennyson’s monologue, examining the ingenious discursive strategies employed by St. Simeon as he labors to perform his own rapture. The chapter’s final section, “Simeon’s Afterlife: The Message of the Butterfly,” parallels Tennyson’s St. Simeon with contemporary environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, probing the similarities in their strategies for attaining communal as well as personal transformation.

Keywords:   dramatic monologue, St. Simeon Stylites, Rapture, Transformation, Victorian evangelicalism, Millenarianism, Edward Irving, Cambridge Apostles, Richard Chenevix Trench, Arthur Henry Hallam, Julia Butterfly Hill

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