Arnold's "The Scholar-Gypsy" is a lingering feeling of the old faith lost in the humdrum of modern feverish pursuits. To what extent do you agree?

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

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The figure of the scholar-gypsy is particularly important to Arnold in evoking a simpler past and a more straightforward way of living compared to the brutality of modern life and the stresses and strains that contemporary individuals suffered. The simple, itinerant existence of the scholar-gypsy, in wandering around the countryside and being at one with nature and not having to worry about the same pressures and changes in society that affect humans has rendered him immortal. Note how this contrast is developed in the following quote:

No, no, thou has not felt the lapse of hours!

For what wears out the life of mortal men?

'Tis that from change to change their being rolls;

'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,

Exhaust the energy of the strongest souls

And numb the elastic powers.

Arnold strongly believed that modern society, with its focus on consumerism, work and change, exhausted humans and wore them out well before their time. In the scholar-gypsy, therefore, he sees a symbol of a simpler way of life in its single-minded focus on faith and simplicity that stands in sharp contrast to the way of life pursued by everyone else, which is characterised by infinite change and "repeated shocks" that sap the strength of even the "strongest souls" and prematurely age humans. The poem does therefore support the statement given in this question as it cries out against the "modern feverish pursuits" and argues for a simpler way of life.

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