Empire State of Mind

At the end of the day, the empire, according to Shelley, reigns supreme and apparently this is a good and positive reign that gives the end of this celebration an exalting motto, “this is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory” (lines 577-578). There is an overwhelming sense of victory and usurpation of the forces of destruction by these positive and as we have discussed in class non-violent forces. After all, “Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance:/ These are the seals of that most firm assurance/ Which bars the pit over Destruction’s strength” (561-563)

Here we see that (E)mpire is being compared with the other positives themes of Life and Joy which are also incidentally capitalized. At first I believed that his was simply an attempt to contrast the positive words with the negative aspects of the “wrongs darker than death or night” (570). However, there is still a discrepancy  within the way the words are capitalized or uncapitalized. For example though (E)mpire has an uppercase e is toward the end, when first mentioned it has a lowercase e. I perceive that the reason can be ascertained from regarding the following line in which Shelley states, “To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates” (572). It took a few times but after a while I keyed in on the word creates and recognized that while in one part of the passage hope is the subject in the other it is the predicate. Man can hope. But Hope can also create. The capitalization pattern is used to distinguish the creation of hope and the creator Hope. Following this pattern we may come to understand that empire is both a creator and a creation, yet I don’t really perceive this distinction as taking away from the celebratory nature of the end as to give it hope. From looking at the words in social context, Shelley is saying that after the French Revolution a new Empire in their new age if it is able to “forgive wrongs darker than death or night” (570) can create a better world. Or else.

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~ by bobcat101 on November 1, 2012.

One Response to “Empire State of Mind”

  1. Your post was very creative and intriguing. Paying attention to the choice capitalization found within this passage is crucial, and you’ve successfully identified Shelley’s attempt to establish the empowered notions of hope as a sentiment of Man as well as Hope as a creator. From identifying this in close reading, you did a nice job of smoothly transitioning into the broader view of the hopeful vision of the aftermath of the French Revolution. Overall this post is rhetorically effective and communicates the intention of Shelley to imply within his choice capitalization a larger vision of an apocalyptic future. Also, great title, very catchy 🙂

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