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Define Romanticism. Why William Wordsworth is considered as a romantic poet...

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swatisameer | Elementary School Teacher | eNoter

Posted April 2, 2010 at 9:18 PM via web

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Define Romanticism. Why William Wordsworth is considered as a romantic poet considering his poem The Prelude and others.

Pl. ans. this question in detail and tell what arethe aspects of romanticism due to which a poet is concidered as a romantic.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:02 PM (Answer #1)

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First, your question looks at the issues you're wondering about from an angle that is a little bit backward.  Wordsworth pretty much defines Romanticism.  One doesn't really define Romanticism then look at Wordsworth to see if he fits the definition.  He is the definition.  The term came after Wordsworth, and whatever Wordsworth and a few other poets do is now called Romanticism.  Wordsworth is a romantic writer so whatever he writes is Romanticism.  If you study his poems, whatever you find is Romanticism.

That said, I'll give you an example.  In "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," Wordsworth focuses on nature experienced in the distant past, nature experienced in the recent past, and the effect the experiences had on him both times.  Romantics emphasized the transcendental (beyond reason, beyond human understanding) in nature.  Humans should commune with nature and thoroughly experience and learn from it.  This is what Wordsworth demonstrates in "Tintern Abbey." 

He writes that the experience he had in this spot greatly occupied his mind after his first visit, and led him to perform acts of kindness, and also led him to a state of mind or a mood.  The state of mind is the "sublime."  He describes the mood:

Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,

In which the burthen [burden] of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world

Is lightened--the serene and blessed mood,

In which the affections gently lead us on--... (37-42)

So you have nature, human response to nature, human contemplation of nature, nature's effect on humans, and the sublime, which is the result of all of the above. 

These should help you find elements that today we call Romanticism in all of Wordsworth's writings.

 

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:42 PM (Answer #2)

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Indeed, Wordsworth does embody the driving force of Romanticism.  I think that we can find the traditional elements of the movement in his work.  Look for a strong emphasis on the natural world.  Wordsworth's poems and the Romantic movement placed a large level of primacy on nature and the natural setting.  This is in large part a response to the Neoclassical movement, preceding Romanticism, and its praising of the city and of the large, collective urban setting.  Romantics defined themselves in the belief that the city was second to the natural setting, where truth and a sense of "the real" emerges.  Along these lines, Romantic thinkers such as Wordsworth believed that the individual can best understand themselves and their world when they are isolated from it, apart from it.  The belief that truth and understanding can be understood by the individual can only happen when the individual is simply that:  an individual.  Finally, the expression of the subjective experience is where real truth is located for Wordsworth and the Romantic thinkers.  As opposed to the Neoclassical period and Enlightenment of scientific inquiry and formal models that defined existence, the Romantics were animated by the individual and subjectively emotional experience.  When Wordsworth says, "poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions," he deliberately asserts a position that elevates emotional frames of reference to a higher state than previously viewed.

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