William Wordsworth Essays

William Wordsworth Essays-80
of 1798 was published in a second edition (1800), William Wordsworth wrote a prose preface for the book that is the single most important statement of Romantic ideology. Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth’s preface to displays the idea of primitivism as the basis of the Romantic position.Primitivism is the belief that there is some primary, intrinsically good “state of nature” from which adult, educated, civilized humankind has fallen into a false or wicked state of existence.

He himself lived in the remote Lake District most of his life, and he wrote about simple shepherds, farmers, and villagers. because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings coexist in a state of greater simplicity, and consequently may be more accurately contemplated.

He explains that he chooses for his topicshumble and rustic life . He sees a correspondence between the unspoiled nature of humankind and the naturalness of the environment.

Wordsworth’s characters are sentimental heroes, chosen because their feelings are unspoiled by restraints of education and reason: children, simple shepherds and villagers, the old Cumberland Beggar, Alice Fell, and so on.

While William Shakespeare often puts a nobleman at the center of his plays and relegates the poor people to the role of rustic clowns, Wordsworth takes the feelings of the poor as the most precious subject of serious literature. Social primitivism is the belief that humankind’s state of nature is good and that it is possible to imagine a social setting in which humans’ naturally good impulses will flourish.

These concepts are basic to understanding his poetry.

“Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” (hereafter called simply “Tintern Abbey”) was composed on July 13, 1798, and published that same year.Psychological primitivism is the belief that there is some level in the mind that is primary, more certain than everyday consciousness.In the preface, Wordsworth says that humble life displays “the primary laws of our nature; chiefly, as far as the manner in which we associate ideas.” Here Wordsworth refers to a very important Romantic idea, associational psychology, which developed from the tradition of British empirical philosophy—from John Locke’s about tracing in his poems the “manner in which we associate ideas,” he is endorsing the line of thought of the associational psychologists. They help people to understand the origins of their own feelings about what is good and bad by demonstrating the way impressions from nature strike the mind and by showing how the mind associates these simple experiences, forming complex attitudes about what proper conduct is, what fidelity and love are, what the good and the true are.Many writers feel that serious literature can be written only about great and powerful men, such as kings and generals.Some writers apparently believe that wounding a king is tragic, while beating a slave is merely funny. He turns to simple, common, poor people as the topic of his poetry because they are nearer a “state of nature” than the powerful, educated, and sophisticated men who have been corrupted by false customs of society.It is one of the best-known works of the English Romantic movement.Its poetic form is blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter, in the tradition of John Milton’s (1667, 1674).The lower classes rose up against the repression of politically powerful kings and destroyed laws and restraints so that their natural goodness could flourish.Unfortunately, the French Revolution did not produce a morally perfect new human being once the corrupt restraints had been destroyed.English neoclassical writers such as Alexander Pope tended to be suspicious of human passions, arguing that anger and lust lead people into error unless such passions are restrained by right reason. Humans’ natural primitive feelings are the source of goodness and morality; the false restraints of custom and education are what lead people astray from their natural goodness.For Pope, it is necessary to exercise the restraint of reason over passion for people to be morally good. In his preface, Wordsworth seems to be following the line of thought developed by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the third earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) in his (1709).

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