Analysis Of The Witch Of Atlas

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In Shelley’s “The Witch of Atlas” one of the central themes is the Witch’s fascination with exploring the world of humans outside of their waking hours. Although the Witch possesses supernatural powers beyond the realm of human comprehension, she also enjoys observing the strange and fascinating beauty of sleep. For her, the purest and best qualities of humans can be found in the chaotic but surprisingly revealing world of dreams. From the beginning of stanza sixty-three, Shelley continues the story of the Witch’s travels on her boat by contrasting the Witch’s graceful journey with the humanity of spontaneous, uncontrolled dreams. He compares these nightly adventures to navigating a “wide lake” full of dangers, and notes that humans are …show more content…

After clearly showing the limited nature of dreams, Shelley goes on to illuminate the Witch’s observation that, while humans may not be able to fully appreciate the world of dreams, sleep in of itself has an almost magical effect on a person. When people drift off to sleep, they do not simply slip into darkness, but into a different realm where the Witch can view individuals “beheld as living spirits” in the night (91). Not only this, but the act of dreaming, of giving up our control of the waking world, allows the Witch to see “through a rude and worn disguise” that would normally conceal a person’s true identity (91). This, in fact, is the key quality that draws in the Witch to become so interested in human dreams. All too often, the ideas and personality we present to the outside world simply do not match ourselves on the inside, whether due to a lack of self-esteem or for more nefarious purposes. Openness and honesty can be difficult traits to find or uphold, but while asleep all worldly considerations become meaningless. The Witch, then, can view “the naked beauty of the soul lay bare” by revealing the parts of people that are worthy of admiration, regardless of what face they may wear during the day (91). Furthermore, the simple use of the word “naked” shows that the beauty of each person’s soul does not necessarily stem from their inherent personal

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