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Image and Mask Ideas in Yeatss William Butler Work - Essay Example

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William Butler Yeats is one of the most well-known of Ireland's poets. Born in Dublin in 1865, the son of John Yeats and Susan Pollexfen, he spent his early years in both Ireland and London; he would later identify strongly with Irish mythology, nationality and Celtic tradition, and this would form the backbone of his poetic matter…
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Image and Mask Ideas in Yeatss William Butler Work
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Download file to see previous pages She agreed that in return for the ability to control her own life, the Devil could have her soul" (Golden Dawn date unknown). Yeats "Was to remain infatuated with her for most, if not all of his life and who was also to a certain extent influenced by her nationalistic outlook" (NLI, 2006, page 1), a complex relationship that informed some of his greatest poetry, although it remained unrequited. She repeatedly refused Yeats' proposals but even after she married, Yeats waited until 1917 before he married Georgie Hyde-Lees, a partnership made strangely happy by Georgie's automatic writings: "When the 'almost illegible writing' had first appeared, Yeats found it 'so exciting' that he 'offered' he said 'to spend what remained of life explaining' his vision preoccupied him until the day that he died" (Wilson, 1999, page 225). Only a few years after their marriage, Yeats became a Senator within the Irish Free State (1922), and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1923), although he had previously refused a British Knighthood; he was still writing poetry until his death in 1939.
Yeats was a polymath with a wide variety of interests; a recent editor of his work describes him as a: "Playwright, literary journalist, critic, editor, public speaker, student and recorder of oral tradition, genuine and independent investigator of the Occult, mythologist and mythmaker" (Webb in Yeats, 2000, page XIV). As a man obsessed with the concepts of masks and performance, it should not be surprising that he adopted so many guises: as well as literary leanings; Yeats also used a number of personas in his poetry, masks or identities behind which he could say what he chose, and not be ridiculed for it. His creative role was not merely to be a spokesperson for Irish nationalism, or an occult movement, or resurgence in interest in Celtic mythology, but to be the creator that takes on the masks of ancient myths in order to give voice to a society:
Celtic revivalists like W.B.Yeats and Douglas Hydedeliberately set
about searching out Ireland's ancient past to create a sense of identity
and self-respect for the Irish peoplethey were determined to establish
national pride by seeking out the origins of Irish Civilization
(McCaffrey and Eaton, 2002)
This essay will attempt to study the role of Masks and Imagery in the works of W.B.Yeats. Looking first at the way in which Yeats' ideas of Image developed from his experiences in the Golden Dawn and other esoteric groups, and considering how this is reflected in his work, the essay will then look at how his use of the Mask reflects some of Yeats' ideas of the self, and whether "The doctrine of the Mask is so complex and so central in Yeats that we can hardly attend to it too closely" (Splittgerber, 2005). The essay will then return to consider the connections between the mask and the image in Yeats' work, and whether these are as closely connected as proposed. The conclusion will then draw these ideas together to provide a solution to Yeats' use of such symbols in both his prose and poetical works.
Yeats and Imagery
Yeats spent a number of years as a member of The Golden Dawn; significantly, this magical order emphasized use of the Tarot ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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