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The theme of "The Solitary Reaper" is to render the individual experience and...

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hhh666 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 24, 2008 at 4:54 AM via web

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The theme of "The Solitary Reaper" is to render the individual experience and make it universal.  What techniques are used? 

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 25, 2008 at 4:55 AM (Answer #1)

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The use of comparison also makes the experience both universal and personal.  The speaker compares the song of the girl to images of Arabian sands, to the song of various birds, to the “silence of the seas beyond the Hebrides”, to “battle of long ago” – these comparisons connect the girl in Scotland to all people the world over.

The use of music as a universal language further supports the theme – both the mention of the girl’s song and the musical quality of the poem itself.  The speaker does not understand the language of the girl, but he can not help but be affected by the song itself, suggesting that music – which is a component of all culture – connects us as human beings.  Wordsworth underscores this by using alliteration in the poem, repeating an “s” sound throughout (pass, lass, sound, strain, sings, seas).  He also uses rhyme to emphasize the rhythm of the poem itself.

Wordsworth also uses apostrophe to make his topic more universal.  Although the experience is that of this girl in the field, it is also the experience of the speaker of the poem.  The speaker then makes the experience universal by appealing to a larger audience, and we know he is doing this through the use of direct address (apostrophe).  He directly commands the audience to observe this experience – telling us to “Behold” the girl.  He then commands us further to “Stop here, or gently pass!” as to not disturb the experience.

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