Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Rape of Lucrece - Soul and Body

My heart shall never countermand mine eye:
Sad pause and deep regard beseem the sage;
My part is youth, and beats these from the stage...

(The Rape of Lucrece, 227-229)

A lot of the discussion in the poem The Rape of Lucrece has to do with the differences and conflicts between one's body and the other aspects that we look on as making up the personality - the soul, the heart, the mind. Are these all one? Is the condition of one's mind and soul dependent on the desires or experiences of the body, or can the soul and mind exist on a different sort of plane altogether than the body? As we see from the opening quotation, Tarquin rejects his mind's reason and the his heart and soul's concience that urge him not to commit this crime  - rather, he chooses to follow his eye, the desires of the body. We then see a very stark comparison between Tarquin and Lucrece - he all body, she all soul:

So o'er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified...


But the poem goes on to deal a bit with the state of Tarquin's soul - just because you ignore your soul doesn't mean it goes away!

Besides, his soul's fair temple is defaced;
To whose weak ruins muster troops of cares,
To ask the spotted princess how she fares.


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