The key to Coleridge’s critical theory is his notion of symbol. For him, a work of art is a symbol which mediates between the world of nature and the world of thought. The act of aesthetic appreciation as well as the act of artistic creation is a symbolization of experience achieved through the power of the imagination. But what value, it may be asked, has this for the practice of criticism? Coleridge himself believed that it has value and not only for the critic but the poet as well. The distinction between the fancy and the imagination, and this implies a doctrine of symbolism,

… would in its immediate effects furnish a torch of guidance to the philosophical critic; and ultimately to the poet himself. In energetic minds, truth soon changes by domestication into power; and from directing in the discrimination and appraisal of the product, becomes influencive in the production.

(II, p. 62.)