In-Betweennes in Matthew Arnold's Poetry
Küçükboyacı, Uğur Ergin
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This study concentrates on the inherent, yet paradoxical relationship surrounding the concept of inbetweenness and human ritualization within Matthew Arnold’s poetry, which is a characteristic example of the fragmentary and in-between poetics of Victorian poetry. Matthew Arnold’s poetry, being among the chief representatives of the period, demonstrates this paradoxical relationship especially within his four major poems, “The Scholar-Gipsy”, “The Strayed Reveller”, “The Forsaken Merman”, and “Empedocles on Etna”. These poems display the fragmentary and in-between characteristics of the phenomenon known as ritualization, however, by presenting representations of a non-ritualized, rather than a successfully ritualized consciousness, they draw attention to the inner-workings of in-betweenness as a mechanism of self-questioning and self-awareness. In-betweenness, in this regard, becomes observable in the non-integrative and incomplete ritualization and identification process represented through self-reflexive poetic portrayals and manipulations of mythic-poetic figures such as the ScholarGipsy, the Forsaken Merman, the Strayed Reveller, and Empedocles, voiced within the in-between settings, moods, and self-reflexive dramatic structures of the poems discussed. This dissertation relates Arnold’s poetry to that of the concepts of in-betweenness and human ritualization, arguing that Arnold’s personas within the poems demonstrate their non-integrative and non-indulgent relationship with their environment and mythic subject-matters through representations of the self-questioning of their own inbetweenness and failed sense of ritualization. As a result, a self-aware and critical consciousness emerges in Arnold’s poetry within the broken relationship between in-betweenness and human ritualization, which makes use of the detached and fragmented Victorian poetics as its characteristic, yet unique mode.