Comparing Individuality And Transcendence In Wordsworth, Tennyson, And Joyce

2890 words - 12 pages

Individuality and Transcendence in Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Joyce

            The development of the scientific method started a revolution in thought

      that changed how people viewed the world. Scientists tested theories by

      creating experiments and carefully observing the results. The importance

      of scientific discoveries raised questions about the role of the observer.

      According to Ralph Koster, the importance of observation in science led to

      the rise of the individual and an awareness of subjectivity. Society

      realized that the individual could determine the outcome of an experiment

      and that people could interpret events differently depending on prior



      In addition to changing the role of the individual, science also changed

      people's views on religion. By contemplating experimental results,

      scientists created rules for how the universe operated. Nature became a

      knowable force that scientists described in a logical collection of laws.

      Thus, science took away much of the world's mystery and changed how people

      viewed God. If the universe operated by rules, it wasn't necessary for God

      to be involved every moment. God became a clockmaker who started the

      universe and sat back to let it run.


      The rise of individuality and changing views on religion resulted in

      insecurity and isolation. Before the Romantic era, achieving oneness was

      often thought of as an act of grace given in mysterious moments. God was

      ineffable, but just. Because science encouraged the clockmaker view of

      God, people became uncertain that God cared about them, and as God's ways

      became known, the sense of mystery in religion was lost. As people began

      to experience reality as subjective, they became more isolated, and they

      longed to connect with others. Transcendence shifted away from grace to a

      process of joining with something outside of the self (Koster). In order

      to experience God, people had to break through their own individuality.


      Transcending the self became a central question for writers in the

      Romantic, Victorian, and Modern eras. As they worked, their writing did

      not advance in a linear progression, but more like a loop, traveling

      forward and backward. As the loop traveled in reverse, writers drew from

      the past, and as it went forward writers incorporated new ideas. New ideas

      were needed, for as time progressed society became more complex.


      During the Romantic era science and technology were expanding rapidly, but

      did not dominate. Discoveries in electricity and mechanics made it

      possible for the Industrial Revolution to begin...

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