“Locksley Hall” is a dramatic monologue in which the youthful speaker, revisiting the site of an earlier love affair, comes to terms with his rejection by the woman he once loved. Through the course of the poem he seeks consolation first in imagining his beloved’s future misery with her new husband; next in foreseeing a brighter future for humankind, based on his own childhood visions of the future; and finally in dreaming of escape from the restrictive society that played a role in ending the lovers’ relationship.
The poem begins with the speaker’s arrival at Locksley Hall, the stately home of his wealthy uncle, where, after his own father’s death, he came to nourish “a youth sublime” with “the fairy tales of science” and nights of gazing at the stars. He then recalls the youthful romance that blossomed between himself and his cousin, Amy. Unfortunately, however, their relationship ended unhappily, for the speaker cries, “Oh my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!” His cousin, “Puppet to a father’s threat,” has married another, presumably wealthier, suitor.
The poem then turns to an exploration of the jilted speaker’s mingled feelings of jealousy, resentment, and lingering affection toward his former lover. He asks “Is it well to wish thee happy?” in spite of his lover’s decision to settle on “a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!” He continues to wrestle with this...
(The entire section is 427 words.)