How much is the audience involved in the production of meaning from an image? An examination of the differences between what we and the Victorians might bring to bear on Whymper's image should highlight the contribution of the audience.
lBegin by asking: is the image intended as a purely objective, accurate depiction of what Whymper saw? If so, why did he include the three human figures? Examine the postures of each figure. What can you say about their responses to the fogbow? Is the artist perhaps guiding our response?
lThink about the social and emotional contexts in which the image was produced. Consider: Victorian religiosity; the romance and spirituality of mountaineering (read Longfellow's poem "Excelsior" at http:eir.library.utoronto.ca rpodisplaypoem1325.html); the recent deaths of members of Whymper's party.
lExamine the role of the media in disseminating stories about the Angel of Mons in the First World War. What led the contemporary audience to value the legend? Was it propaganda? Find the background at www.worldwar1.comheritage angel.htm.
For the story, go to www.aftermathww1.combowmen.asp.
For an account of its genesis go to www.aftermathww1.combowmint1.asp