Charles Lamb

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Why does Charles Lamb criticize the obsession with nature in "The Londoner"?

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In "The Londoner," Charles Lamb indirectly criticizes the obsession with nature and the countryside by showing the pleasures and joys of the city and implying that those who focus on the country are missing out on the experience of London.

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In his essay “The Londoner,” Charles Lamb does not spend a lot of time directly criticizing the obsession with nature and the countryside. In fact, he can understand “tolerably well” the poets who “declaim in such passionate terms in favor of country-life,” for he once spent time in the country in his youth while he was courting a young woman.

Yet Lamb believes that those who are obsessed with nature and the countryside miss out on something: the excitement and interest of the city. Lamb was born a Londoner and is proud to be so. He loves the crowds, the press of people, all of whom have their own stories. London is lively with pleasures of its own (far greater pleasure for Lamb than looking at the “flocks of silly sheep” in rural areas).

When Lamb is in London, his tendency toward melancholy and hypochondria vanishes, for there is so much to see and hear that the city draws his attention away from himself and makes him feel much better. And these scenes of interest never end. They are a continually “shifting pantomime.”

Even the “deformities of London” are not particularly displeasing to Lamb when he approaches them with a certain attitude. He likes the various stores that all present goods tailored to please someone. He enjoys witnessing the interactions between tradesmen and their customers. He doesn't even mind London's smoke. In fact, he says he loves it, for “it has been the medium most familiar to my vision.” He is even interested in the justice meted out to London's criminals, for it shows “order and good government.”

Indeed, for Lamb, London is home, and he loves his city. In his praise of London, Lamb implies that those who are obsessed only with nature and the countryside are missing out on the joys and pleasures of the city.

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