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Faith And Doubt In The Poetry Of Gerard Manley Hopkins

1621 words - 6 pages

Gerard Manley Hopkins had eight siblings and was born of Manley and Catherine Smith Hopkins. His parents were Anglicans that followed the Catholic tradition in sacraments and papacy. By instilling the theological values, faith and morals into Gerard, he became heavily influenced by his family. His parents taught him, as well as their other children to love God. Gerard guaranteed his mother that he would strengthen his connection with God and familiarize himself with the Scripture, so Gerard began to read the New Testament at school. Manley, his father, was an officer of the laity and helped out at the Church. He taught children at the Sunday school including his own son Gerard. Other relatives influenced his faith, too. His uncle was a clergyman and helped Gerard’s father write a renowned book of faith. John Smith, his uncle on his mother’s side, was an officer of the laity; he fortified the religious tradition and teaching within the family and in the community. Through the guidance of his parents and his father and mother’s relatives, Gerard Hopkins developed a strong, binding connection with God.
Aside from Gerard’s religious influences he was encouraged and introduced to art and language through his family, friends, and others. His mother enjoyed reading books dealing with German literature and philosophy, along with novels. His mother’s sister developed his ability to sketch. Anne Eleanor Hopkins instructed Gerard on how to paint, sketch and play music. She cultivated his interest in the visual arts. However, the main influence on Gerard’s love for poetry came from his father. Manley Hopkins relished music and literature. He passed on this appreciation for words and art to Gerard. Gerard benefitted from this and soon adopted his own admiration for poems. Young Hopkins began to copy his father’s poems learning from them so that he could one day create his own.
As Gerard searched for an authoritative religion while he was in Oxford, he became captivated by John Henry Newman. He saw the Newman converted from the Anglican Church to the Catholic Church and that grabbed his attention. After understanding Newman’s choice he himself also converted to Catholicism in 1866. By 1888 Gerard had joined the Society of Jesus, which is a clergy order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Society of Jesus Order concentrates mainly on theological scholarship and spreading the values of faith. On his journey to become a Jesuit priest Gerard gave up on poetry. He believed that expressing himself through poetry was being too original. Hopkins did not want his love of poetry to draw attention. To prevent his personal goal from diverging him from becoming a Jesuit priest, he sacrificed his passion and burned his early poems.
Before I became Catholic and I only thought about what it would be like, I had the habit of crossing myself whenever I prayed. Whenever I saw the homeless man on my way home from school I would cross myself, saying a prayer for him. My...

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