Saturday, January 23, 2010

Soul vs. Body

The competition in Marvell's, "Dialogue between the Soul and Body," the two sides offer points and counterpoints on which of the sides has the power. However, who actually wins the debate is entirely left for the reader to decide. Did Marvel have a winner in mind when he wrote, or did he intentionally leave the answer for interpretation?

The soul begins its argument by determining that what gives the body knowledge only helps to constrain the soul. While the soul is destined for an afterlife in heaven, the body, which is made from the earth, tries desperately to stay alive, preventing the soul from achieving it's inevitable freedom. The soul uses morality and reason to constrain the body's intentions for pleasure, and is the seat of emotions from which the body feels pain. This struggle for control is the key to life according to Marvell.

In Marvell's poem, the body gets the last word in the argument. Could this indicate that Marvell believes that the body prevails in the argument? While the soul is using the body as a temporary vessel on its way towards heaven, the body stays apart of the earth, like the tree analogy he uses in the final stanza. Or could the soul be the key ingredient allowing for the tree to stand straight and remain beautiful?

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