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The Prelude By William Wordsworth Essay

1313 words - 6 pages

Stephen Stahl
Dr. Kairoff
English 165
April 8 2014
Perspective by Experience

Man's journey through life is poignantly influenced by the perspective he embraces. A perspective acts as a lens to view the world, swaying one's way of thinking and decision making. This perspective is constantly tested by the prolonged process of maturation that continues with age. The Romantic period ceded a break from intellectual conformity towards emancipation; it marked a radical shift in popular thinking, resulting in the growth in the value of literature, art and nature. Young Wordsworth's life during this inquisitive time establishes a unique context in which to describe the relation between one's ...view middle of the document...

Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will. (Bk. I, l. 1.)
Wordsworth’s clear appreciation for marginalized realities – such as the breeze – lends powerful insight into his character and understanding of the world. This burning passion Wordsworth possesses excogitates the words he chooses to describe nature. Moreover, this passion represents the intellect he utilizes to perceive the world around him.
Secondly, Wordsworth artistically characterizes nature by describing its permeating essence throughout the world. He describes the continuity found in nature by explaining that,
Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society. (Bk. I, l. 340.)
Through these words, Wordsworth contrasts man’s mortality with the immortal connectedness of nature, a tenet of Romantic thought. The strong relationship Wordsworth describes here – between man and nature – guides his perspective in regard to the rapidly changing conditions of his environment.
Following Wordsworth’s time in London, his return to the country in Book Eight introduces a new facet of his connection to nature. As Wordsworth views the local shepherds tending to their sheep, he contrasts their character to that of the established herdsmen present in classical Rome. The simplicity of the shepherd’s life, freely caring for his herd, shifts Wordsworth appreciation of nature to his love of humanity. Wordsworth credits the peaceful environment, free from greed and competition, for his newly found love in humanity. He describes how,
By pure Imagination: busy Power
She was, and with her ready pupil turned
Instinctively to human passions, then
Least understood. (Bk. VIII, l. 420.)
With a newly found perspective on humanity, Wordsworth returns to the chaotic bustle of London.
Wordsworth’s expressed value of nature and humanity are analogous to the views of Romanticism during this time. Much of his love of nature derives from his discontent with rapidly modernizing civilization. Though the early 1800's mark the peak of Romanticism, ironically, they also mark the time of the Industrial Revolution. The love of humanity and nature present in Romantic thought is juxtaposed by increasing urbanization and entrepreneurship in Great Britain. Unique to Wordsworth, he is able to relate to not only the Romanticism spreading in France, but the rise of industrialism in Great Britain. The contrast present between these two movements forces Wordsworth’s opinions to culminate in a more convicted worldview.
Following Wordsworth’s life of simplicity in London, his return to France marks the beginning of the most influential development of his perspective. Wordsworth’s connection to the French Revolution largely...

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