I. Brief definition and discussion of the picturesque
II. Discussion of Wordsworth's repudiation of the picturesque
III. Pinpointing elements of the picturesque in "Tintern Abbey"
IV. Discussion of Wordsworth's use of the picturesque as a rhetorical device
I. Define and Discuss Picturesque
The concept of the picturesque came out of a need for a label for that gray area between the sublime (founded on pain and terror) and the beautiful (founded on feelings of pleasure). The only common definition of the term is, as Gilpin writes, "that kind of beauty which would look well in a picture" (Watson 11). As a travel movement, it was a search for "stations" from which the viewer might experience landscape similar to that which was depicted in the souvenir paintings being brought home from the grand tour.
In equating landscape with painting, Gilpin divides the stationary field into foreground, middle ground and background. In his Observations on the River Wye, he further divides the field of the river into the "area" or the river itself, the "side-screens," or opposing banks, and the "front screen," defined as "what points out the winding of the river" (8). These divisions allow him to describe the field in motion as he floats down stream, and the reader is given descriptions of the "areas" such as, "At Cold-well, the front-screen first appears as a woody hill, swelling to a point. In a few minutes, it changes its shape, and the woody hill becomes a side-screen, on the right; while the front unfolds itself into a majestic piece of rock-scenery" (23). This last phrase brings us to his further di...
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...ating Wordsworth: 'Tintern Abbey' and the Community with Nature" Romanticism on the Net 20 (November 2000) 4.
Moylan, Tom. Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination. New York: Methuen, 1986.
Owen, W.J.B. "The Most Despotic of Our Senses." The Wordsworth Circle. 19:3 (Summer 1988) 136-144.
Trott, Nicola. "The Picturesque, the Beautiful and the Sublime." A Companion to Romanticism, ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 72-90.
Watson, J.R. Picturesque Landscape and English Romantic Poetry. London: Hutchinson, 1970.
Wordsworth, William. The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind. Abrams, Gen. Ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton and Company, 1979. 257-313.
Wordsworth, William. "Tintern Abbey." Romanticism. 2nd ed. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. 265-269.
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