Indeterminacy in some of Shelley’s major poems : a critical discussion
This thesis examines a selection of Shelley's major poems m order to delineate the way they invite and resist interpretation. I argue that Shelley's reluctance to supply simplistic meanings is bound up with his search for truth and symptomatic of intellectual honesty. Shelley's texts call upon the reader's responses in order to bring their meanings into focus. These meanings are dynamically provisional. This method of calling upon the reader's responses is specific to Shelley and is termed 'indeterminacy'. The term is not used primarily in a deconstructive sense 'Indeterminacy' incorporates the indeterminacy in a text, and the indeterminacy of the reader's response that is triggered by the text. The thesis has six chapters. Chapter One addresses Alastor, relating the indeterminacy with which the Poet is presented to the poem's problematic narrative methods. Chapter Two examines the enigma of the Maniac in Julian and Maddalo. The Maniac's soliloquy remains poised between illumination and opacity This ambivalence is linked to Julian's function and the inconclusive ending. Chapter Three examines The Cenci in the light of Shelley's tendency to let the reader assume the protagonist's viewpoint. I argue that, in evaluating Beatrice, we must also evaluate ourselves. Chapter Four examines self- consciousness and bereavement in Adonais. Chapter Five concerns the lyrics to Jane Williams, concentrating on the changing psychological currents of Shelley’s relationship with Jane. The relationship is examined in terms of the tension between poetic symbols and complex human personalities. Chapter Six concerns Rousseau’s ambiguity in The Triumph of Life; this is related to the enigma of human endeavours and the articulation of moral dilemmas that are left unresolved. Throughout I illustrate Shelley's sense of poetry as surrogate-like in that he is continually striving to recreate the absent forms and sensations of experience and often anxious to stress the reductiveness of this attempt.