Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop by W.B. Yeats: Themes and Symbolism

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Essay - Yeats
Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop: Themes and Symbolism
W.B. Yeats had a very interesting personal life. He chased after Maud Gonne, only to be rejected four times. Then, when she was widowed, he proposed to her only out of a sense of duty, and was rejected again. He then proposed to her daughter, who was less than half his age. She also rejected his proposal. Soon after, he proposed to Georgie Hyde Lees, another girl half his age. She accepted, and they had a successful marriage, apart from some indiscretions on his part. His personal history seems relevant when discussing a poem that praises sex and sin as essential to our spiritual fulfillment. In “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop”, Yeats uses symbolism, themes of
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He says she should “live in a heavenly mansion, / Not in some foul sty.” (5-6). The Bishop thinks that Jane should let go of her bodily desires in order to achieve spiritual fulfillment. The Bishop believes that for her to be good, she must rid of her evil and the impure desire for sex. Jane however, believes that there is no good without evil. She says, “Fair and foul are near of kin, / And fair needs foul,” (7-8). Jane goes on to express her feeling that you cannot have love without sin in the third stanza, “A woman can be proud and stiff / When on love intent; / But Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement;” (13-16). She is saying that you can try to simply ignore your body and be spiritual but you won’t be completely fulfilled if you ignore your body. Both Jane and the Bishop reference mansions in their statements. The Bishop condemns Jane’s sinful behavior and urges her to “Live in a heavenly mansion” (5). This mansion that the Bishop speaks of could be a church. He thinks she should prepare to die soon, and to try and secure her place in heaven by spending the rest of her days in celibacy and prayer. The mansion that the Bishop speaks of symbolizes goodness and piety. Jane also references a mansion but in a drastically different way. She says, “But Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement;” (15-16). For her, feeling love and expressing love is more important than the quest for God’s approval. She believes that love is not

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