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How did Gray treat nature in Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard?

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lablabi | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 26, 2011 at 2:44 AM via web

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How did Gray treat nature in Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 27, 2011 at 4:15 AM (Answer #1)

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Thomas Gray, in Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard, treats nature with the utmost respect. According to the poem, nature holds all of mankind at the same level.

The speaker considers the fact that in death, there is no difference between great and common people.

Based upon this, nature is very different from mankind. Mankind draws lines, makes excuses, and believes itself to be (sometimes) all-powerful. Nature, in the end, has the last say--all will die and return to the ground.

At different points throughout the elegy, nature's power is defined. In the first stanza, the end of the day ("and leaves the world to darkness") signifies that all work is over. The darkness, ruled by nature, is more powerful than mankind.

In the second stanza, the peacefulness of the air and landscape around the speaker dictates the speaker's mood. Later, the "complaining" owl shows its distaste regarding the fact that her "secret bower" has been disturbed by mankind (the speaker).

Throughout the poem, Gray shows his honor of nature by constantly admitting to the power of nature. Therefore, Gray treats nature with the utmost respect given that nature, unlike mankind, does not prejudice. Instead, the fact that, through nature, the common man is elevated shows the great power which nature has.

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