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Who was Proteus and Triton as referred in Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us"?

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tapusss | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:35 PM via web

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Who was Proteus and Triton as referred in Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:44 PM (Answer #1)

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The allusions to Greek mythology that are made in the last two lines of this wonderful poem mention these two important deities as the speaker declares he would rather be a pagan than cut off from nature and man's relationship to his natural surroundings. Consider what the last two lines say:

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Proteus in Greek mythology was a sea god who could change his shape at will, giving rise to the adjective "protean," and Triton is a sea god who controls the waves by blowing a conch shell, his "wreathed horn" as the poem describes it. Both allusions function as examples of pagan religion and how they prized nature as a powerful force to be reckoned with that mankind needed to respond to and have a relationship with. This of course stands in conflict with the damaging impact of materialism that is described in the first few lines of the poem.

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