The Prelude Questions and Answers
by William Wordsworth

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What are the main themes in Wordsworth's The Prelude (books 9–14)?

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The Prelude is a long autobiographical poem that Wordsworth worked on for much of his adult life in which he describes his early years and his development as a poet sage. It is considered by many to be his masterpiece and offers insights into his poetry.

Books 9–12 cover Wordsworth's experiences of the French Revolution. The young Wordsworth was a radical for his time period (he would not seem radical to us, but was for those times) in that he supported the goals of the revolution, including republicanism rather than monarchy, liberty, universal brotherhood, and equality. He was idealistic and hoped France could achieve a new kind of society in which common people would have greater rights and freedom. He was in France when the revolution turned into a bloodbath and was deeply troubled by what he witnessed. He returned to England deeply depressed and wondered what his future would hold. He became disillusioned and wondered how he could make a difference for the common person.

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