woman sitting among purple grass at night with a flower on her chest and in her long, flowing hair

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

by William Wordsworth

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What are the Romantic elements in Wordsworth's "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways"?

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William Wordsworth's "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways" describes a young girl, Lucy, who lives in seclusion in the natural world. In this short poem, Wordsworth describes Lucy as an individual who shuns human community, but who also enjoys a strong connection with the natural world. 

Wordsworth employs many classic Romantic ideals in this poem. The most obvious is his preoccupation with nature. For the Romantics, nature was of the utmost importance, and many Romantic poems deal with dramatic landscapes and sweeping descriptions of wild beauty. While Wordsworth's poem is rather modest in comparison with many Romantic poems, his focus on nature is of vital importance here, as he emphasizes Lucy's dwelling as deep within the wilderness and far from society's influence.

Lucy's isolation touches on another important Romantic ideal: the importance of the self and individuality. The Romantics were obsessed with the self and sought time and again to reach a deeper understanding of the individual. Thus, Lucy's seclusion within the poem is important. The short poem is essentially an intense look at one person, an individual who is free from the confines of societal pressures. Thus, though her dwelling in the woods is somewhat melancholy, Lucy exemplifies the Romantic idealization of the self in isolation. 

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