The Chambered Nautilus Themes

Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Development and Mobility

The discussion in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table that precedes “The Chambered Nautilus” focuses on the various stages of life and the importance of making progress by moving on from what one previously knew. In a sense, the poem is an elaboration on this idea, because it focuses on the concept of sealing off one's previous boundaries to create new and larger spaces in which to live and develop. In the paragraphs before the poem, the autocrat of the breakfast table says that “grow we must, if we outgrow all that we love,” stressing the need to keep moving and developing as one ages, even if it means that one leaves one's old relationships behind. Holmes envisions a process of spiritual and personal progress in which one constantly challenges oneself to become a better person.

“The Chambered Nautilus” expresses this idea of progress, particularly in stanza...

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This section contains 651 words
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Buy The Chambered Nautilus Study Guide
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