Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rhetorical question

A rhetorical question does not solicit an answer to the inquiry posed. Rather, it encourages the reader to reflect on the implied answer, premise of the question, and any information or images conveyed by the question.

Mont Blanc; Percy Shelley

Ghastly, and scarred, and riven.--Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-daemon taught her young
Ruin? Where these their toys? or did a sea
Of fire, enveolope once this silent snow?

(lines 70-74)

Shelley poses a series of rhetorical questions inteded to telegraph images of destruction and dark power to attribute to Mont Blanc. Though the mountain itself is not on fire or inhabited by demons, the rhetorical questions imply that the effect of the mountain in its natural form is as intense as if it was, in fact, home to the Earthquake child. Unlike the calming pastoral setting tamed by man's hand in Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, Shelley describes nature that invokes fear and is at odds or is independent of man's appreciation for it.

The second generation romantics tend to portray nature as a subject that is less subjective to the viewer. The overwhelming power of Shelley's Mont Blanc will not be presented in variable lights according to the viewer whereas Blake writes in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that "a fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees."

Andrea Yamsuan

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