Mont Blanc (poem) - Themes


"Mont Blanc" concerns the human mind and its ability to comprehend truth. Its main theme examines the relationship between the human mind and the universe; the poem discusses the influence of perception on the mind, and how the world can become a reflection of the operation of the mind. Although Shelley believed that the human mind should be free of restraints, he also recognised that nothing in the universe is truly free; he believed that there is a force in the universe to which the human mind is connected and by which it is influenced. Unlike Coleridge, Shelley believed that poets are the source of authority in the world, and unlike Wordsworth, believed that there was a darker side of nature that is an inherent part of a cyclical process of the universe; a notion similar to the theory put forth by the French naturalist George Cuvier.

The poem's relationship with the mountain becomes a symbol for the poet's relationship with history. The poet is privileged because he can understand the truth found in nature, and the poet is then able to use this truth to guide humanity. The poet interprets the mountain's "voice" and relays nature's truth through his poetry. The poet, in putting faith in the truth that he has received, has earned a place among nature and been given the right to speak on this truth. Nature's role does not matter as much as the poet's mediation between nature and man. Shelley, and the poet in "Mont Blanc", opposes organised religion and instead offers an egalitarian replacement. However, only a select few can truly understand the secrets of the universe.

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