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How is Matthew Arnold's poem "The Scholar Gipsy" a criticism of Victorian England?

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This is a very interesting question, which can actually be answered on two fronts. Note that the scholar is described originally as having been a "poor" boy in Oxford—somebody who has made his way to the great University based on his own merits and his fierce intelligence but who has then found it very difficult to exist alongside others who have come from different echelons of society. The strain of "knocking on preferment's door" is eventually too much for him, and he decides to abandon it all in favor of learning the ways of the gypsies.

It's interesting, then, that we see Arnold here making a comment on access to higher education which is a pressing concern to this day, particularly in institutions like Oxford and Cambridge which were traditionally the arena of the wealthy and privately-educated. Why, Arnold asks, do we make things difficult for the most "wise" among us because they don't fit in?

He goes on to demonstrate why the scholar was wise indeed to abandon the "strong...

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