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Write an essay of 1,500 words, in which you compare and contrast the way nature is represented in the following Romantic poem and extract from a Romantic poem: Percy Bysshe Shelleys Mont Blanc and lines 452-542 fro

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Introduction

T M A 0 4 Question: 'Write an essay of 1,500 words, in which you compare and contrast the way nature is represented in the following Romantic poem and extract from a Romantic poem: Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Mont Blanc' and lines 452-542 from Book Sixth of The Prelude by William Wordsworth (Romantic Writings: An Anthology, pp.329-32 and pp.133-5 respectively). Introduction Both literary texts that we will be dealing with in this essay, Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Mont Blanc' and an extract from Book 6 of The Prelude by William Wordsworth belong temporally to the Romantic Period (1780-1830), with the former having been written in 1816, and the latter completed in 1805, although it was not published until 1926. Wordsworth belongs to the 'first generation' of Romantic writers, whose Romantic literature was wartime literature. Thus he had lived through the Revolutionary period and had also witnessed the aftermath of it: the dissipation in a long war. Despite his initial sympathy towards the early ideas of the Revolution concerning man and human liberties, he came to abandon them, turning from a fervent progressist into a resigned conservatist. He began to argue against the received idea of poetic language as a refined mode of eloquence available only to those with an education in previous literary models, employing the 'language of men'. ...read more.

Middle

By these means, the sublime of Nature is being foregrounded. The starting lines of the second stanza talk of the scene before him, the Arve, which is represented as the Power: the universal realm of thought, which surprises us by 'bursting' into view like lightning ('Thus thou; Ravine of Arve...Bursting through these dark mountains...', ll.12-19). The syntax of these lines is unusual; 'Thus' probably confirms evidence for the previous claim, although it is not clear what is being demonstrated; then, we have sentence fragments, the use of dashes, even the word order of 'dark deep', that reverses typical locution. This disrupted, unusual syntax denotes the pressure of this overwhelming experience, causing Shelley's senses to instantly break down. Finally, we have an animating metaphor: the Ravine, which is addressed as if it were animate ('Thus thou'), and the Arve, which descends as Power from 'his secret throne' (ll.16-17). This allows for the writer to later address direct questions to Mont Blanc, suggesting a presence in it that finds an answering response in us ('Is this scene...once this silent snow?', ll.71-74). In this third stanza, Mont Blanc is presented as 'piercing the infinite sky' (l.60), whose subject mountains have 'unearthly forms' (l.62) ...read more.

Conclusion

The 'living thought/that never more could be' (ll.455-6) is succeeded by a reference to 'something evenmore about to be' (l.542). He is lost in the realm of time along with imagination, which transcends the human senses. Nevertheless,'the light of sense/goes out in flashes that have shown to us/the invisible world' (ll.534-6). This image conveys a denial that the normal faculties of consciousness are adequate to discover 'our destiny, our nature, and our home' (l.538). The repetition of 'hope' in Line 540 strongly foregrounds Wordsworth's desire to reconstitute its grounds in a dark time of post-revolutionary reaction and despair. Conclusion On balance, these two literary works share an interesting similarity in their use of apocalyptic and millennial imagery to express the relationship of man to Nature and to higher powers; they are both successful in making their readers aware of the greater harmony of the universe, both within and outside the boundaries of time. However, where Wordsworth admitted his disappointment on the view of real Mont Blanc, Shelley's reaction was the opposite. Furthermore, while Wordsworth places great emphasis on the interaction of the human mind with its environment, Shelley emphasises the passivity of the mind in the 'unremitting interchange' with 'the clear universe of things around' (ll.39-40); Nature is the messenger and the imagination acts upon it only after having received it. ...read more.

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