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Corvey 'Adopt an Author'

Maria Jane Jewsbury

The Corvey Project at
Sheffield Hallam University

Plot Synopsis of Phantasmagoria, or, Sketches of Life and Character

Phantasmagoria, is a collection of poetry and prose published in 1825 in two volumes. It satirises fashionable tastes and contemporary writers and critics. I have decided to concentrate on a selected few from the two volumes.

Volume One

'Women's Love'
This is an essay about women's love and duty. The love a women has for a man and what she would do for him because of it, which is basically everything, is discussed and is told to be women's key strength. Women should let men claim their supremacy as a women has her heart and the ability to calm men's tempers and wills, this is their triumph.

This directly follows 'Women's Love' and is an example of this strength women have for men. It is the Second poem in the Historical Sketches. Arria is a women so completely devoted to her husband that when he is dying she stabs herself in order to show him that death is not painful or frightening.

'Women of Suli'
This is a poem based on the joint suicide of the women of Suli. The women all join hands in a circle an sing loudly whirling around up to the end of the cliff and then
they all throw themselves off at once. The women would rather kill themselves than wait for their fate from the attacking Albanians

Volume Two

'The Poet's Fate'
This is a poem about the life and fate of a poet. The first stanza tells of the
enthusiasm and passion the poet has for his writing and everything around him. The second
stanza reveal that over time the poet's passion withers and dies, comparing to flowers. Ambition takes over his writing and consequently will be his down fall. The final stanza informs the reader of the final out come for the poet, his fame will cause his an early death.

'Song of the Hindoo Women'
This poem is based on the funeral of a Hindoo women's husband. The widow accompanies her husband to the world of the spirits. A Funeral Pile which seems to be similar to a bonfire is made and the dead body is placed on it. The women wearing her bridal jewels follows behind, takes off her jewels and mounts the funeral pile. She then lies next to her husband and sets a light to the mound on which she lies.

'The Lonely Grave'
The 'lonely grave' is the grave of a woman named Ellen who we found out has taken her own life. Her father wanders the churchyard alone remembering her. Ellen's heart has been broken and her feelings and passions progress until we finally are told of the scene when her father finds her dying due to the poison she has taken.

'Miseries of Mediocrity or Confessions of a Disappointed author'
This is the longest piece in Phantasmagoria. This is self told the story of a Michael, a man who had to face the truth that he was not good enough to be part of the literary circle. People told him often but he was a romantic and felt that if he went to London he would become successful. He married, was extremely poor and could only just afford to survive. An old friend he met on the street who offered him a job of running his shop but only if he gave up the 'vile scribblings'. Michael immediately did and led a comfortable life.


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