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Lyrical Ballads

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Introduction

How do the poems 'We are seven', 'Anecdote for fathers' and 'The idiot boy' reflect Romantics beliefs about childhood Children were severely abused during the 18th century; they were used, by the poor, as a means to money through child labour or prostitution. The industrial revolution saw children working long hours with the extremely dangerous machinery and equipment in the factories. The infant mortality rates were also very high during the 18th century. The romantics saw childhood as the most important period of time in a person's life where one is closest to nature than he would ever be through his innocence and spirituality. Wordsworth shows how much one can learn from children through his poem 'Anecdote for fathers'. The father feels he could not 'teach the hundredth part' of what he learns from his child, here we see the Romantic's beliefs of equality, where the commonly impotent child has actually taught his father, an adult, the lie that is born from love. ...read more.

Middle

The narrator in 'We are seven' is shown to be persistent, saying that her two siblings 'are dead!', We see the narrator forcing the child to face a different sort of reality, far from her own. His emphatic speech and the fact that he concludes that he was 'throwing words away' show that, even till the end of the poem, the adult does not understand that the child is a child and her innocence is something that cannot or should not be taken away. This is also evident in 'Anecdote for fathers', the adult holds the child 'by the arm' intimidating the child into giving an answer and his persistence by asking the child 'five times' seems to put further pressure on the child even though the father knows the child has lied to keep him happy. This injustice to the child is suggested through out the poem, the father has asked an unfair question to the child, making him feel guilty and obliged to lie, as it was the parents choice to move - not the child's. ...read more.

Conclusion

As ballads have strong associations with childhood and are often in simple language, the Romantics in the 18th century adopted this form of writing and, in doing so, highlighted the key ideas of childhood, the innocence and connection with nature, in their poems which Wordsworth ahs clearly demonstrated in 'We are seven' and 'The idiot boy'. Overall, the poems 'We are seven', 'The idiot boy' and 'Anecdote for fathers' reflect the Romantics views of childhood in many ways. We see that Wordsworth presents all the children in these poems to be extremely close to nature and shows that Childish or childlike intuition and instinct, can be superior to adult "wisdom." Here the Romantics views on equality, closeness of children to nature, innocence and the importance of childhood shine through in Wordsworth's poems. This was a revolutionary view in the 18th century as children or childhood were not seen as significant and were often abused to adults advantage, in these three poems Wordsworth really projects the Romantics view of children out to the public, making them think more carefully about the attitudes and treatment of children. ...read more.

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