The Prelude Questions and Answers
by William Wordsworth

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The concept of "growing up" is central to Wordsworth's "The Prelude"  What is this "growing up" about?

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In "The Prelude," Wordsworth's concept of "growing up" is about maturation.  Wordsworth worked at the poem for most of his life.  The poem centers on the idea if his maturation as a human being has been in line with Romantic notions of the good.  "Growing up" occupies an important element within this goal.  For Wordsworth, "the child is the father of the man."  This means that in order to better understand the life we lead and the life we intend to lead, there has to be a return to childhood in the mind of the individual.  "Growing up" means to examine how one's life has moved from the ideal of childhood.  To understand what it means to "grow up," one has to go back and reflect at the source.

For Wordsworth, this involves reviewing his own childhood.  Such a reflection causes him to examine who he was in the light of who he is. In terms of his maturation and understanding as a poet, Wordsworth revisits his childhood and seeks to better grasp what was there and how what was impacts what is.  "Growing up" is very important because Wordsworth wants to demonstrate that as individuals mature, their identity and the elements to which they hold true remain constant.  "Growing up" means to grow in accordance to ideals and theories that help to "see into the life of things."  In "the Prelude," this becomes central to understanding what it means to "grow up."

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