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Essay on Victorianism and Romanticism: Analysis of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

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Victorianism and Romanticism are two different styles of literary writing from two different eras of British Literature. Both eras contain different writing style that is distinctive and unique, but they both share a similar idea in a certain topic. “Dover Beach” written by Matthew Arnold during the Victorian era, his writing style reflects the connection to the Romantic era but still hold factors that make the Victorian era special. M. Arnold usage of figures of speech, metaphor, and visualization, in his poem, to show the difference of between the image of what we may see against what we hear in, through figuratively and literally. M. Arnold utilizes nature to contribute to projecting the image of the world bring a place full of misery.

Romanticism, lasted around 1770 to 1830, mainly focus on emotion and view of nature in idealistic world. Many poets look out to nature as a way to escape reality, and some use nature as a source to cope with their issues in life. (Knoepflmacher, 18). While on the other hand, Victorianism began during the monarchy of Queen Victoria, which was from 1837 to 1901, during the Victorian era they focus strongly on social movement and concern such as religion and poverty. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, written by William Wordsworth, the author talk about how he walks around the lake and witness a field of daffodils blown by the wind. He viewed this as a perfect dreamy like setting, and in time of sadness, he can always think back to it and reminisce the events. “For oft, when on my couch I lie | In vacant or in pensive mood, | They flash upon that inward eye | Which is the bliss of solitude: | And then my heart will pleasure fills,” While M. Arnold discuss about how society may look like a perfect world from the outside but if you take a deeper look, it will reveal itself as gloomy world. A world that bring neither bring love or joy. “To lie before us like a land of dreams, | So various, so beautiful, so new, | Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, | Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.” W. Wordsworth used the daffodils as a factor to cope and help him escape from reality and society, he prefers to live in his ideal world contemplating at the beauty of nature. M. Arnold didn’t discuss using nature to help with reality, a matter of fact, he exposed society for being a dark and disruptive world. “A version of Wordsworth which is also a criticism and a rejection of Wordsworth’s view.” (Knoepflmacher, 17).

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In both the Victorian and Romantic literature contain writing reflect upon social and moral issues, using nature as metaphor. Both eras share s similar point of view as they both tackle the subject of society is collapsing. M. Arnold wrote in Dover Beach, “The Sea of Faith | Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore | Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled | But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, | Retreating, to the breath | Of the night-wind…” He is talking about the faith of humanity is unstable like the sea’s current, as it goes in and out. (Knoepflmacher, 24). The only sound that he was able to hear from the “Sea of Faith” was the sadness and sorrow of waves. (Racin, 52). Like W. Wordsworth’s work in “The Word Is Too Much with Us”, he talks about how humans don’t really contribute much to the world and to some extent we lay waste upon the earth. “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; | The winds that will be howling at all hours, | And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; | For this, for everything, we are out of tune; | It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;”

Matthew Arnold, a well know artist from the Victorian time period in British literature. One of his work, Dover Beach, was known for his great use of the metaphor of nature to express his thought on the world. Even though his work is published during the Victorian time period, M. Arnold showed influences from poets of the earlier time. The structure of his work has similar parallel to the tripartite structure as earlier poets. (Racin, 49).

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