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Historical Context in The Moon
Historical Context Examples in The Moon:
Text of the Poem
"shapeless..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
In reality, the moon has a clearly defined circle or crescent shape. However, in this metaphor, the moon is compared to a feeble woman. Its shapelessness can therefore be interpreted through the woman’s shapelessness. As we will discover in the next stanza, she is undefined because she is unmarried and not concretely defined by her relationship to a man. This metaphor reveals Shelley’s 19th-century social mindset, which held that a woman’s role was to marry and rear children.
"gauzy..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
The adjective “gauzy” describes something as resembling gauze: a thin, transparent fabric generally made of silk or linen. In putting this tottering woman in a “gauzy” veil, the speaker creates an image of a frail, damaged woman in gossamer clothing and once again invokes the gothic.
"dying..." See in text (Text of the Poem)
By invoking the image of a “dying lady,” Shelley alludes to gothic literature, a genre of writing that combines fiction, horror, death, and romance. This sets a dark tone for the poem and creates an ominous, almost supernatural resonance behind all of the images.