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THE STRUCTURE OF THE COATL SYMBOL IN THE PLUMED SERPENT

Alice Baldwin
Style
Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 1971), pp. 138-150
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42945095
Page Count: 13
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THE STRUCTURE OF THE COATL SYMBOL IN THE PLUMED SERPENT
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Abstract

The serpent, coati, was a complex motif in Quetzalcoatl myth; in The Plumed Serpent D. H. Lawrence makes it a complex symbol to create his own myth of reconciliation between rational and instinctive forces in Man. Lawrence's linguistic structure of the symbol evolves from six synonyms: dragon, reptile, lizard, salamander, serpent, and snake. Often interchangeable, they nevertheless have different semantic fields, which at their outer limits overlap and blur the edges of their meanings. Centrally, they revolve around one concept—vitality, and one major character-Cipriano. Comparison of sets of collocations, contexts, and connotations controlling the quetzalcoatl words reveals not only the structure of the symbol but also both strength and weakness in this controversial novel.

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