Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Optional Blog Post

In The Two Part Prelude of 1799 we see Wordsworth look into himself and try to figure out why he thinks the way he does and why life is the way it is. In lines 67-80 we see him discuss what he thinks is what makes people who they are and what determines how they act. He seems to even join in on the nature v. nurture debate in order to figure out what he thinks. Eventually Wordsworth comes to think that nature does play a big role in what is going on but that one can break this cycle if they strive hard enough.

Although it may seem like Wordsworth believes in nature over nurture this is not correct. "I believe that there are spirits which, when they would form a favored being, from his very dawn of infancy do open out the clouds." Wordsworth begins this stanza with a simple statement of resignation to nature, but he then goes on to say “Others too there are… and of their school was I.” This seemingly nonsensical contradiction makes no sense at all, but when one looks at its implications it helps explain why nurture rules over nature. By stating that only a certain few are endowed with gifts and then not counting him one of them Wordsworth effectively asks for an explanation of why he is an oddity. This creates a tension with a person reading this who believes in nature over nurture and forces them to come up with the realization that some people can grow to become who they are because of their experiences and not just out of their nature.

Wordsworth also creates the impression that nurture is stronger that nature through the diction. When describing the people who are endowed by nature Wordsworth uses adjectives such as “quiet,” “gentle,” and “retired.” These words are not powerful and just seem to be filler words so as to say that those who believe in nature believe in the non-essential. This is contrasted with the valuable and meaningful words associated with the idea of nurture shaping one’s life such as “palpable,” “aiming,” and “interventions.” Of these words only one is an adjective and the other two are verbs and that also demonstrates how Wordsworth believes that life is actively changed and that it is not passive actions that form a single person.

In Wordsworth’s The Prelude life philosophies become clear and one of them is that a person has the ability to shape his own life. He states that the environment may help but that it if a single person has the desire they too can do whatever they want because he has set precedent for it by his being a very good poet but admittedly not being part of the gifted group.

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