Male and Female Travelers Essay

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Male and Female Travelers

While reading Helen Maria Williams' "A Tour in Switzerland" and William Coxe's "Sketches of the Natural, Civil, and Political State of Swisserland," I find myself captivated by Williams' description of the Rhine Falls, while feeling indifferent by Coxe's account of the same landscape. It strikes me how much the Rhine Falls influences Williams' emotions and her avid imagination, yet it seems to have a subtle effect on Coxe. In her introduction, Williams mentions that "the descriptive parts of this journal were rapidly traced with the ardour of a fond imagination, eager to seize the vivid colouring of the moment ere it fled, and give permanence to the emotions of admiration, while the solemn enthusiasm beat
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Unlike Williams, Coxe does not appear to have any expectations prior to visiting Switzerland and the Rhine Falls. Rather, he takes in the view of Switzerland and the Rhine Falls with fresh eyes, noting every detail as it is presented in front of him. For Williams, she also hopes that Switzerland is the right medicine to rid her memories of the social turmoil that is occurring in Paris: "I am going to repose my wearied spirit on those sublime objects - to sooth my desponding heart with the hope that the moral disorder I have witnessed shall be rectified" (4). To Williams, Switzerland is akin to the Garden of Eden where Williams "shall no longer see liberty profaned and violated" (4), but rather delight "in the picture of social happiness which Switzerland presents" (4). With Coxe, however, he did not go to Switzerland to escape the political upheaval occurring back home. Thus, he does not expect Switzerland to provide him with a comforting haven to sooth his mind, but rather new sights to delight his eyes.

Both Williams and Coxe react to the Rhine Falls differently. Williams develops an emotional attachment to the Rhine Falls while Coxe maintains a distant connection with it.

Williams' visit to the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen begins with a dramatic, almost suspenseful opening. The anticipated revealing of the Rhine Falls is prolonged by Williams' gradual description of the steps they took getting

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