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Les images de l'eau chez Baudelaire Steele, Elizabeth Jane


This study examines the correlation between water imagery and the expression of Spleen and the Ideal, the two poles of the psychological struggle fundamental to Baudelaire's identity. We have determined that the poet's major published works contain three principal categories of water imagery: waterbodies; weather's elements; other liquids associated with Man, namely tears, blood and wine. Usually feminine in nature, the water in each of these groups is characterized by a Spleen/Ideal bipolarity, the extension of Baudelaire's psychological being. Aquatic manifestations of the Ideal inspire spiritual escapes from the horror of Spleen as the poet dreamily contemplates the Ideal realm. Such escapes are only brief, however, as the preponderance of spleenetic water imagery reveals. Water associated with the Ideal is a life giving force, whereas water associated with Spleen can only be a force of death. Its diverse forms and moods or characters make water a rich source of poetic images well suited to mirroring Baudelaire's continuous anguished struggle between Spleen and the Ideal.

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