Analysis Of Allen Ginsberg 's Howl

1745 WordsApr 1, 20177 Pages
The importance of the symbolism of madness in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The theme of madness is vital in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, as a poem written by a young voice with the purpose to intentionally shock audiences. It presents views of insanity and madness as both tragically victimizing the talented young minds of America, causing the straight-cut society to oppress and restrain their creativity in psychiatric hospitals; but also as a sort of liberation, allowing the artist to connect to their creativity in a way that the ‘sane’ are unable to. In Howl, the lines between true madness, inspired madness, and drug-induced madness, are significantly blurred. Ginsberg lived to shock the masses through his poetry; as a gay man from Jewish parents…show more content…
Ginsberg viewed Solomon as a creative genius, whose artistic nature was subsequently repressed by the staff of the psychiatric hospital. In Howl, this is presented as an extended metaphor – the oppressors in white coats becoming oppressors of the entirety of the younger generation of the time. There is a strikingly demonized view of doctors and psychiatrists in the poem, which is highly reflective of the brutal methods used in psychiatric treatment in the early 20th century; Ginsberg references lobotomies and insulin-shock therapy, which were most commonly used in the treatment of schizophrenia. They were intensely feared by patients, the procedures were painful and often traumatic. Ginsberg appears to relate this in a metaphorical sense to the injustices of the education system; how the creativity in the young is lobotomised out of them as if it were a kind of debilitating disease, conveyed in the line towards the end of the poem; “who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers in Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy.” This line also appears to relate back to the first line of the poem; “I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.” The syntax is muddled and conveys a sense of madness in and of itself, which may be implying that the
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