What are the main comparisons and how do they differ: Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De- Quincey and Home at Grasmere by William Wordsworth. I have an assignment to compare and contrast these two romantic authors.

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In Home at Grasmere, the narrator delineates his childhood experiences of nature and mythologizes nature as a mother who teaches and guides her child.

But me hath Nature tamed, and bade to seek For other agitations, or be calm; Hath dealt with me as with a turbulent stream, Some nursling of the mountains which she leads Through quiet meadows, after he has learnt His strength, and had his triumph and his joy, His desperate course of tumult and of glee. That which in stealth by Nature was performed Hath Reason sanctioned: her deliberate Voice Hath said; be mild, and cleave to gentle things, Thy glory and thy happiness be there. (from Home at Grasmere).

When the narrator grows up, however, he sets his footsteps toward an urban environment, later lamenting the 'realities of life so cold, So cowardly, so ready to betray, So stinted in the measure of their grace...' It is his eventual return to the arms of nature which saves and empowers him. On the other hand, in Confessions of an English Opium Eater, de Quincey discusses how opium has invigorated him and released him from the oppression of physical pain. He sees opium as a release, worthy of gifting him with the same sort of epiphanies his mentor derives from nature.

...opium,on the contrary, communicates serenity and equipoise to all the faculties, active or passive, and with respect to the temper and moral feelings in general it gives simply that sort of vital warmth which is approved by the judgment, and which would probably always accompany a bodily constitution of primeval or antediluvian health.

At the same time, he humbly confesses that 'opium does not of necessity produce inactivity or torpor, but that, on the contrary, it often led me into markets and theatres.' However, de Quincey's interest in people and his sociological observations of the urban environment present an antithetical contrast to the natural serenity of Grasmere. At times, the prose in de Quincey's treatise even becomes a 'stream-of-consciousness' exercise in fantastical musings; consider the following, so opposed to the intricately elegant style of the Romantics, but poignant in its anguished cry for recognition:

Oh, just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike... bringest an assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure from blood; and to the proud man a brief oblivion for Wrongs undress’d and insults unavenged; that summonest to the chancery of dreams, for the triumphs of suffering innocence, false witnesses; and confoundest perjury, and dost reverse the sentences of unrighteous judges; —thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples beyond the art of Phidias and Praxitele (Greek sculptors).

Hope this gives you some idea on how you can compare and contrast the works and style of the two Romantic authors.

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To compare and contrast Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater with William Wordsworth's Home at Grasmere, it is helpful to note the relationship history between both authors.

Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) was William Wordsworth's (1770-1850) junior by fifteen years. His relationship with Wordsworth earned him an invitation to stay with the Wordsworth family at their Dove Cottage, a house situated in Grasmere in the Lake District, in 1807. Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, lived at Grasmere from December of 1799 to May of 1808; upon their vacating Dove Cottage, de Quincey moved himself into the cozy home in 1809. He stayed until money ran out for him, in 1820.

To understand the differences between de Quincey and his mentor, it is worth noting the first split in their friendly acquaintance. This happened during the Cintra essay debacle. Accordingly, Wordsworth had put de Quincey in charge of proof-reading; de Quincey, a voracious reader, was well-known for his prose and ecstatic to be chosen by his idol to oversee the whole process of editing and printing. However, his joy soon turned to dismay when the autocratic Wordsworth made difficult and often contradictory demands on him. Furthermore, Cintra, at 216 pages, didn't sell well, and Wordsworth bitterly blamed de Quincey for obscuring his 'long and involved sentences' with de Quincey's 'unusual system of punctuation.'

To make matters worse, de Quincey and Wordsworth shared antithetical views about nature. While De Quincey enjoyed his idol's poems, he was more interested in people, history, and legends, than in 'waterfalls or sheepfolds or sunrises or daffodils.' Wordsworth viewed nature as the ultimate, transcending inspiration for his writing while de Quincey relied on laudanum (opium mixed in alcohol) to fuel his writing binges. On any given day, de Quincey was known to consume about '480 grains of opium or twelve thousand drops of laudanum.' He increased his dosage when his stomach ailments became worse.

So, you can see one of the main differences between Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Home at Grasmere. The former concerns itself with addiction, pain, and the struggle for relevance and meaning. It is a treatise filled with vulnerable confessions and humiliating concessions. The latter, on the other hand, concerns itself with the transcending influence of nature and how nature mitigates the dehumanizing influences of modernization and industrialization.

Say boldly then that solitude is not
Where these things are: he truly is alone,
He of the multitude whose eyes are doomed
To hold a vacant commerce day by day
With objects wanting life - repelling love;
He by the vast Metropolis immured,
Where pity shrinks from unremitting calls,
Where numbers overwhelm humanity,
And neighbourhood serves rather to divide
Than to unite. (from Home at Grasmere).

Home at Grasmere is also written in blank verse, while Confessions of an English Opium Eater is equal parts autobiography and cathartic prose.

Source: The English Opium Eater, a biography of Thomas de Quincey by Robert Morrison.

The addicted life of Thomas de Quincey.

Imagination, Metaphor, and Mythopoeia in Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats by Firat Karadas.

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