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How do Evans and Wordsworth differ in their presentation of London in these two poems?

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Introduction

How do Evans and Wordsworth differ in their presentation of London in these two poems? The two poems, 'In a London Drawing Room' by Mary Ann Evans, and 'Upon Westminster Bridge' by William Wordsworth both speak about London, but they both do it in strikingly different ways. Evans' is an ugly, negative poem that talks of a dark, gloomy, monotonous place, choked with smog and people. Wordsworth's happy sonnet projects forth about a crisp, beautiful, clear space. Each poet presents their idea of London in very different ways; in the form, the details and in the attitude. Evans' poem is best summarised by its final line, "With lowest rate of colour, warmth and joy," while Wordsworth's can be represented by its first line, "Earth has not anything to show more fair." Both of the poems have forms very distinct from the other, and these each contribute to the way Evans and Wordsworth have presented their points. 'Upon Westminster Bridge' is, in form, a typical sonnet. It comprises fourteen lines, which split up into an eight-line octet and a six-line sestet. The lines are laid out simply in iambic pentametre; five groups of two syllables per line, which allows the poem to flow swiftly and smoothly. 'In a London Drawing Room' has no real form; there are nineteen lines, an awkward number that does not feel comfortable to the reader. ...read more.

Middle

Evans, on the other hand, only brings into grim reality the city itself, as with "For view there are the houses opposite." This shows that Wordsworth is somewhat more idealistic than Evans. Evans, in her poem, uses phrases involving colour, contrarily, to illustrate how unpleasant the city actually appears. "The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke," uses yellow, a colour usually associated with happiness and cheer, as a device actually to discolour the sky above the city. "The golden rays are clothed in hemp," speaks about the golden sunlight, but only in the context of its being stifled and smothered. Wordsworth, by contrast, hardly uses colour in his poem at all, but there is colour implied in lines such as "All bright and glittering," that add more real colour to the reader's mental picture than the mentions in 'In a London Drawing Room." Wordsworth speaks of the varied nature of the city in 'Upon Westminster Bridge," such as in "Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie." He uses this to point out the diverse attractiveness of London. Evans, conversely, discusses how it is monotonous, dull and self-repeating. A line that illustrates this well is, "All closed, in multiplied identity," which is about how every person in London is, to every other person, exactly the same as anyone else. In the way Evans describes the city, it is just a city and little more; if anything, it is worse than just a normal city. ...read more.

Conclusion

He states, "This City now doth, like a garment wear the beauty of the morning." The way he speaks about the city wearing a 'garment' indicates that its current beauty is something that it is only wearing that will soon be doffed and cast aside. The fact that it is the 'beauty of the morning' is also telling; the morning is only a short period in the day, and then it is over. He alludes to the capital, "glittering in the smokeless air," but the very fact that he mentions its smokelessness implies that it might well become smoke-filled in the future. He also says, "Dear God! The very houses seem asleep; and all that mighty heart is lying still." The 'very houses' being 'asleep' indicates that it is early enough in the morning for everyone to be still sleeping in bed, and before anyone has woken up to scratch the polish in Wordsworth's veneer. The 'might heart lying still' speaks again about how everyone is asleep, and the 'living being' that Wordsworth views the city as is itself not yet awake and belching out smog. Wordsworth may "ne'er" have "saw" or "felt" a "calm so deep," but it is clear that it is not destined to last. In conclusion, despite Wordsworth's being a much more pleasant poem than Evans', I prefer Evans' writing because of its gritty reality as opposed to Wordsworth's idealistic view of an unreal world. ...read more.

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