Comparing Nature in Wordsworth’s Ruined Cottage, and Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Comparing the Representation of Nature in Wordsworth’s Ruined Cottage, and Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner

For most poets of the Romantic Age, nature played an invaluable role in their works. Man’s existence could be affected and explained by the presence and portrayal of the external nature surrounding it. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are no different from the other Romantic poets, and their works abound with references to nature and its correlation to humanity. Specifically, Wordsworth’s “The Ruined Cottage” and Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” share the theme of nature affecting man, although essential differences exist in their ideas regarding how it affects man. These two works are also similar in that they use a storyteller frame to both deliver and reinforce these ideas.

In order for the reader to fully appreciate the representation of nature in these two particular poems, it is necessary to supply a little background on each poet. Wordsworth reigns supreme in the nature tradition. His poetry makes tribute to nature in conjunction with examining the human state, while maintaining that the relationship between the two is unbreakable. In his book English Poetry of the Romantic Period, critic J.R. Watson claims “the finest of Wordsworth’s nature poetry explores the relationship between [man and the world seen in the spirit of love], in the attempt to demonstrate the power of nature in the rescuing of the individual mind from degradation, materialism, selfishness, and despair” (114). Crediting nature with the answer to life, Wordsworth’s philosophy reveals that there can be no greater truth than that found in the simplicity of nature. He pulls from ...

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Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. “Biographia Literaria.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. 7th ed. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000. 468-486.

Harding, D. W. “The Theme of ‘The Ancient Mariner.’” Coleridge: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Kathleen Coburn. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967. 51-64.

Watson, J.R. English Poetry of the Romantic Period. New York: Longman, Inc. 1985.

Wordsworth, William. “The Ruined Cottage.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. 7th ed. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000. 259-70.

Wordsworth, William. “Preface to Lyrical Ballads.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. 7th ed. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2000. 238-251.

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