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Analyzing Wollstonecraft, Blake, and Wordsworth

In: English and Literature

Submitted By msprin94
Words 1287
Pages 6
Part I:

One could argue that Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women was one of the earliest feminist philosophical works that set the standard for the feminist phenomenon we know today. In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Wollstonecraft states that it is indeed not a normal incidence that instated the variances between man and woman, but it is civilization and convention that introduced these differences. Furthermore, she positions herself to say that it is the way men are taught differently than women that causes contrasting principles and rifts between sexes. The following quote from A Vindication of the Rights of Women perfectly showcases my notions made in the previous sentence: “One cause of this barren blooming I attribute to a false system of education, gathered from the book written on this subject by men who, considering females rather as women than human creatures…” (152). In Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we are offered a somewhat accurate look into a post-Wollstonecraft world. The two Pride & Prejudice characters that best reflect Wollstonecraft’s feminist demarcations are Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham. As the film progresses, Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet sisters, becomes acquainted with Mr. Wickham and begins to display the very essence of what Wollstonecraft was trying to rebut in A Vindication of the Rights of Women. As Lydia’s infatuation with Mr. Wickham intensifies, she begins to act unsophisticated and juvenile and becomes ignorant to her family and Mr. Wickham’s true motives. Wollstonecraft states that “…men endeavor to sink us still lower, merely to render us alluring objects for a moment; and women, intoxicated by the adoration…” (152). The above passage perfectly demonstrates the notions in Wollstonecraft’s work. In a further opposing stance, Lizzy Bennet is what Wollstonecraft was hoping women would be: wholly and completely independent, without the need for a man.
Songs of Innocence and Experience is William Blake’s most famous work; he wrote them to personify the differing facets of the human soul. William Blake believed that life could be viewed from two different states: innocence and experience. One would presumably think that innocence is better than experience, but to Blake, the opposite is true. Both states have their positive and negative sides: the positive side of innocence is joy and optimism, while the negative side is naivety; the positive side of experience is wisdom, while the negative side is cynicism. When further analyzing and scrutinizing Blake’s Innocence poem, The Lamb, one cannot seem to escape the almost nursery rhyme-like style the poem shares. The stylistic nature of the work further capitalizes on the pure and unaltered state of an Innocence poem. The omniscient narrator gives the reader the ethereal feeling of experiencing the lines of the poem firsthand. With such otherworldly feelings, it’s difficult to forget the fact that the lamb is indeed not shielded from the harshness of the world, thus giving this poem a carnal, exposed facet. In regards to the poem, the Lamb starts out by symbolizing a child, then transitions to symbolizing the actual animal, and finally evolves into symbolizing Jesus Christ. In its Experience complement, The Tyger offers to round the edges and connect both poems in a seemingly circular and familiar fashion by offering a common Jesus Christ allusion. In The Lamb, the reader experienced the sensitivity and compassion of Jesus Christ, while in The Tyger, the reader experiences a feral, more powerful aspect. The Tyger references The Lamb by saying: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (Line 20) – with this line, the narrator is trying to grasp the notion of the same God creating feeble lamb as well as the cruel tiger. The Tyger poem goes on to later state that the Lamb is simply and effortlessly “made,” while the tiger is molded: “What the hammer? what the chain?/ In what furnace was thy brain?” (Lines 13-14); thus, expressing both facets of creation: innocence and corruption.
Part II:

When it comes to studying William Wordsworth, one cannot seem to escape the re-occurring motif of bucolic scenery throughout his sonnets and poems. In this essay, I will thoroughly explicate and analyze the encompassing differences of urban and rural scenery in “London, 1802” and “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.”
At first passing glance, “London, 1802” seems like a desperate cry towards Milton asking him to rise from the grave and revitalize the haggard, commercialized city (and in some ways, it is!). However, upon further scrutinizing, the reader is reveled in the helpless, but harmonious tone of the sonnet. Wordsworth’s bucolic imagery makes its first appearance in the beginning of the sonnet, but instead of using the idyllic flourishment’s he is known for, a sallow and salient metaphor is introduced instead: “England hath need of thee: she is a fen/Of stagnant waters…” (Lines 2-3). The imagery used by Wordsworth isn’t bright and vivid like Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” but instead it’s an outlandish image that shows us that there is something foul in England. The pastoral imagery makes its final appearance halfway through the end of the sonnet, but this time it personifies Milton and invokes a vivid image to describe how wonderful England used to be: “Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:/Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free…” (Lines 10-11).
Wordsworth’s “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” consists of exactly the type of lush and gorgeous bucolic imagery he is known for. In this unrhymed poem, the reader finds the poet reminiscing about a place he has not visited in five years. He remembers every minute detail: “Five years have past; five summers, with the length/Of five long winters! and again I hear/These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs…” (Lines 1-3). He evokes more recollections of the place and remembers how momentous it all was to him. It almost feels as if the very essence of the place is what was imprinted in his brain while he was away in the commercialized city: “But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din/Of towns and cities, I have owed to them…” (Lines 26-27). This quote further emphasizes the personal implication that the landscape had on the poet. For the remainder of the poem, Wordsworth beautifully draws parallels between his first visit and his present visit and reflects upon the two. The poet then finds himself experiencing an unusual mixture of his present emotions, the memory of what he felt before, and the thought of how he'll look back on this moment in the future. Naturally, he imagines himself changing as time progresses and compares his experience to that of when he felt like a deer as a child, exploring the scenery: “Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first/I came among these hills; when like a roe/I bounded o'er the mountains…” (Lines 68-70). The poet can now be seen to have acquired a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the nature he loves.
In conclusion, the reader can note the substantial shift in bucolic scenery in both poems. “London, 1802” is yearning for the good, olden days where commercialization was just a myth and scenery was lavish and green; while “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” contains copious amounts of rich bucolic imagery, but offers it at a meaningful and spiritual level. By viewing these two poems side-by-side, we are able to better understand Wordsworth’s passion for nature and favor towards rural scenery. It is evident to the reader that Wordsworth can see and appreciate the sheer power that rural scenery has on the soul.

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