Discussing Sexuality In Hero And Leander English Literature Essay

Within both of these poems the thought of sexual desire is cardinal, it is explored explicitly and may be considered the driving force of the cardinal characters. It is non examined in a florid or romantic manner, taking influence from the formal traditions of the earlier mediaeval ages, but alternatively both writers refer back to classical texts and attitudes to give a far more animal and titillating power to their authorship.

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These descriptions are clearly of a godly beauty, and Marlowe does non cover the more animal ( and possibly vulgar ) parts of her organic structure. Interestingly, it is Leander who is praised in a far more eroticised manner – Hero was described by her eyes, cervix and breath, Leander ‘s inside informations are of his organic structure, chest and lips. So already we see an inequality between the two characters. Since the reader is aligned to the storyteller ‘s sentiments, so now they will get down to oppugn both the point of view of the storyteller and their ain positions as good. Is at that place a ground for this prejudice in the storyteller, and if there is does the reader accept it? The initial decision is that Marlowe is subtly overthrowing the epyllion genre, or possibly merely spread outing its scope. One line in peculiar work stoppages us with its ambiguity: “ For in his expressions were all that work forces want ” ( 84 ) . There are two readings of this line, either ; Leander ‘s expressions are so exceeding that work forces wish that they looked like him, in kernel enviousness, or otherwise the line may be read that Leader is so fine-looking as to be desired by work forces every bit good as adult females. Again this ambiguity seems to be Marlowe disputing the more conservative ethical motives of the Renaissance period by researching the more sexually unfastened universe of classical antiquity. Thus Marlowe gives us a unfastened position of gender, either giving the storyteller an equivocal sexual penchant or merely taking gender from them wholly. But so we move on to the descriptions of the character ‘s feelings and we are instantly given a really graphic penetration into their gender.

He touched her manus ; in touching it she trembled:

Love profoundly grounded barely is dissembled.

These lovers parled by the touch of custodies ;

True love is tongueless, and frequently astonied bases. 183-6

Here we are shown the animalism of their desires, while nevertheless little the touch is it is still a physical manifestation. Merely after this contact does Leander get down to exhibit the more romantic traditions of suspiring and flattering words. So he begins a long address full of congratulations towards Hero. Yet it is non a simple flattering of Hero, there is an sarcasm involved as while the address acts like a traditional lovers address, the Southern Cross of is it a review of celibacy as Leander wishes to deter Hero of her pledges. Further sarcasm is taken from the fact that Hero has pledged her celibacy to Venus, a goddess of love. Hero herself is described in peculiarly demure manner:

Thereat she smiled and did deny him so

As, put thereby, yet might he trust for minute. 311-2

So we are given a struggle within Hero ‘s character, she is lacerate between her vows and her desires. Yet shortly she gives in to Leander ‘s progresss, yet frequently interrupting off with guilt or sorrow. Leander is portrayed as a likewise conflicted character. While so a smooth speechmaker and seducer, he appears to be an inexperient and gawky lover. In a profoundly humourous rime we are told:

Albeit Leander, rude in love and altogether,

Long toying with Hero, nil saw

That might please him more, yet he suspected

Some amative rights or other were neglected. 545-8

Therefore we are treated to the thought that while Leander ‘s desires are strong, they are slightly naA?ve. His naA?vety is once more shown when he swims in the sea and Neptune errors him for a male child who he had stolen away before. Leander ‘s protest of “ I am no adult female, I ” ( 676 ) and Neptune ‘s amusement at such a defense mechanism shows us morality similar to that of the storyteller. Yet while we do see everything from the storyteller ‘s position, we do non place ourselves with the actions of Gods. They are nevertheless worshipped, and therefore should be presented as function theoretical accounts – if they were non, so why would they derive favors? Again Marlowe is disputing the instead conservative Christian moralities with the heathen values of old.

Towards the terminal of the verse form, the two lovers are together in Hero ‘s tower. There is once more conflict and ambiguity in Hero ‘s actions. She lets him whisper in her ear flattery, yet at the same clip plays “ the Harpy ” . There is a conflict traveling on here, heightened by Marlowe ‘s usage of existent conflict linguistic communication. Subsequently we are told:

And now she wished this dark were ne’er done,

And sighed to believe upon Thursday ‘ nearing Sun,

For much it grieved her that the bright daytime

Should cognize the pleasance of this blessed dark 785-8

Again, there are two ways in which this can be read. Either ; Hero is ashamed of her actions, that she wishes the actions that dark had ne’er been done. She is worried about the universe happening out, that the Sun should uncover their actions. Or, that she wishes to maintain such an event secret, that it is her desire. The “ pleasance of the blest dark ” , foregrounding the enjoyment and depicting it in a spiritual mode, that “ ne’er done ” equates to “ ne’er stoping ” . So Marlowe nowadayss us with a really unfastened and blunt verse form of two circling lovers, neither wholly dominant nor straightforward in action.

Donne ‘s verse form is both similar and contrasting to Marlowe ‘s narrative. There is a definite talker to the verse form, biased and gendered from the beginning. Donne ‘s verse form is given in the signifier of a missive from Sappho to Philaenis. It is told in the first individual, adding accent to each emotion given. It is to be noted that Donne has chosen to compose from the position of the opposite sex, something non frequently found in poesy of this epoch. Equally uncommon, he chooses to talk of Sappho, ill-famed for holding same-sex lovers. As the verse form progresses the reader becomes cognizant that the verse form is so a declaration of feelings from Sappho to another adult female named Philaenis. This would presumptively be seems to be slightly risque district for the Elizabethan age, although it would be judged far less badly than if it were two work forces. The Elizabethan tribunal seemed to disregard homosexual relationships between adult females, non naming it among the detestable and besides hangable offenses of the clip.[ 1 ]However the verse form still stands out as a extremist presentation of desire. There is both poesy and animal desire found within the verse form, Donne shifts the focal point throughout the piece from imagination and flattery through to titillating animalism. As found in Marlowe ‘s work, Donne has his storyteller describe the beauty of beloved by comparing them with Gods. Yet the tradition is reversed to give it farther impact and accent. In her exaggeration, the talker claims that the Gods themselves shall be more flattered by this comparing. Besides note that Donne is besides influenced by classical literature. We are non set in a modern-day clip, but once more in classical Greece. Similarly, a polytheistic pantheon is used, there is nil within the Christian principal that can fit the comparing of beauty and the power of being compared to the Godhead.

Donne portrays the desires of the author as all consuming, invariably within her head:

Merely thine image in my bosom doth sit,

But that is wax, and fires environ it.

My fires have driven, thine have drawn it therefore ;

And I am robbed of image, bosom, and sense. 9-12

We are shown how power sexual desire is to the head, and besides shown that it is non limited to heterosexual lovers. By the terminal of the verse form the description of the sexual desire has become overpowering and extremely titillating:

Hand to strange manus, lip to lip none denies

Why should they breast to breast, or thigh to thighs?

Likeness begets such unusual self-flattery,

That touching myself, all seems done to thee. 49-52

This graphic word picture of the meeting of two organic structures is focussed on the more sensuous parts of the organic structure. There is a powerful straightness in Donne ‘s description. Yet we are besides reminded that this is two adult females run intoing together, changeless reminders to the fact that the two lovers portion similar organic structures. And all of a sudden the intimacy is gone. We find the talker entirely, there in forepart of the mirror they merely hold themselves. Therefore we see that sexual desire and love are closely linked, intertwined without opinion on where a moral line should be drawn. There is a sense that with such love and passion it is merely right that they both be together, and the reader empathises with this point of view. The lines: “ O remedy this loving lunacy, and reconstruct / me to me ; thee, my half, my all, my more. ” ( 57-8 ) are full of emotion, the feeling of missing that the lover feels without the other. The patterned advance and escalation of the lover ‘s significance, traveling and altering from the talker ‘s “ better half ” through to their “ everything ” gives a powerful voice to the hankering between two lovers. It is non judged or moralised within the verse form, love transcends such things and the verse form ends returning to a poetic and less animal tone, yes still refering the physical facets of the love:

And so be alteration, and illness, far from thee,

As 1000 by coming nigh, keep’st them from me. 63-4

There is a selfishness here, the thought that the lover is so stricken that they do non wish to alter, and hence wish that their desired will non alter either. There is no range for alteration or patterned advance, the talker wishes for things to remain as they are in the present.

So within both of these poems the thoughts of sexual desire and gender are discussed in a really blunt and unfastened manner. There are minutes of extremely charged erotism but likewise there are minutes of poesy and nuance, all fluxing together to make a strong description of the powers of desire on the human head. Neither take a judgemental point of view, the reader is ne’er incensed or outraged by the emotions portrayed, instead they are depicted in a passionate and rather credible mode. From the straightforward desires to the conflicted emotions associated with desire, both poets stand out amongst the other Renaissance authors for their unfastened attitudes towards gender.

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