Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” has been a mystery to scholars for many years because no one knows his intended meaning. Three ways that “Kubla Khan” can be analyzed is through the biographical, the feministic approach, and the Marxist approach.
The first approach is the biographical approach. No one knows for sure when “Kubla Khan” was written, but it was published in 1816. Coleridge suffered from neurologic and rheumatic pains; he became addicted to opium, which was prescribed by doctors at that time to relieve pain. Coleridge claims to have witnessed what he wrote about in “Kubla Khan” one time when he was high on opium. He wrote down what he saw, but was interrupted by a visitor right before the third stanza and Coleridge lost his train of thought. This causes Coleridge from talking about “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” to “A damsel with a dulcimer” without ever connecting the two together. If it was not for the visitor, Coleridge may have finished the poem with a definite meaning.
This gives the impression that that first part of the poem is what it is like to have a good idea. Xanadu is the head, while the “fertile ground” is the brain, and Alph is the idea forming in the person’s brain. The “mighty fountain momently was forced” is the idea first being developed into words, or being “forced” out of the mouth.
The second half of the second stanza warns about the danger that some ideas bring upon man kind. This is shown through “Ancestral voices prophesying war!” Every war was started by an idea, whether it was the idea of annexing another land, or even the idea that the other land is inferior to the person with the idea’s own. For example, the idea of splitting the atom was a good one, but it caused many people pain and suffering when the product, the atomic bomb, was dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Another form of criticism is from the feministic approach.
According to the feministic approach, the females in a story are either...