Essay on The Sublime in Tintern Abbey

Essay on The Sublime in Tintern Abbey

Length: 3270 words (9.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Sublime in "Tintern Abbey"

Lifting from Longinus, Burke, and Kant -- authors whose works Wordsworth would have read or known, perhaps indirectly, through Coleridge -- I want to look at how our reading of this nuanced term is necessarily problematic and difficult to pin down. Is the sublime a stylistic convention of visual representation? Is it a literary trope? Is it a verbal ruse? Or is the sublime a conceptual category defying, or at least interrogating the validity of verbal representation? Though I look at select passages from Tintern Abbey, reading (or re-reading) the concept into the poem, I take my guided (or misguided) understanding of the sublime as a springboard and template for reading subsequent treatments in other Romantics.*

Situated prior to and directly within this conceptual fabric is the contentious debate taking place between deism and pantheism. Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" seems to adopt or at least imply a pantheistic stance. What does the speaker mean in declaring "we see into the life of things" (50)? And what is he referring to when he notes that there is "a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking things" (101-102)? I use this preliminary sample as a starting point to my cursory talk about the sublime. I don't attempt to decipher the full repercussions of the divine in Wordsworth, nor do I wish to provoke with the idea that the sublime is in no way rooted in religion; instead, I want to look at whether this idea can be subverted or at least destabilized and replaced with a more revolutionary turn, more inward and more existential, indeed one more suggestively rooted in subjectivity. In other words, the sublime -- as an aesthetic or philosophical concept -- plays a crucial role ...

... middle of paper ...

...the Sublime and Beautiful. The Sublime: a reader in British eighteenth-century aesthetic theory. Ed. Andrew Ashfield and Peter de Bolla. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgment. Trans. J. H. Bernard. Hafner Press, 1951.

Longinus. On the Sublime. Classical Literary Criticism. Trans. T. S. Dorsch. Penguin Books, 1965.

Wordsworth, William. "Tintern Abbey." Romanticism, 1st ed. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 240-244.

----"Prospectus to 'The Recluse'." Romanticism. 1st ed. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 246-248.

---- "TheThirteen-Book Prelude." Romanticism. 1st ed. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 284-474.

---- "The Sublime and the Beautiful." The Prose Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. II. Ed. W. J. B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974. 349-360.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Tintern Abbey: Summary Essay

- Tintern Abbey: Summary William Wordsworth reflects on his return to the River Wye in his poem “Lines: Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour”. Having visited Wye five years prior, he is familiar with how enchanting the place is. He describes the natural wonders of the Wye, which travels past Tintern Abbey, a medieval abbey in the village of Tintern, which is in Monmouthshire, Wales. This Cistercian Abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, on May 9, 1131....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Research Papers
1763 words (5 pages)

Deist Pantheism in Tintern Abbey Essay

- "Tintern Abbey" typifies William Wordsworth's desire to demonstrate what he sees as the oneness of the human psyche with that of the universal mind of the cosmos. It is his pantheistic attempt to unfurl the essence of nature's sublime mystery that often evades understanding, marking his progression as a young writer firmly rooted within the revolutionary tradition to one caught in perplexity about which way to proceed socially and morally, and further, to define for himself a new personal socio-political vision....   [tags: William Wordsworth Poetry]

Free Essays
749 words (2.1 pages)

Above Tintern Abbey and Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

- The poems, “Above Tintern Abbey” and “Intimations of Immortality written by the poet, William Wordsworth, pertain to a common theme of natural beauty. Relaying his history and inspirations within his works, Wordsworth reflects these events in each poem. The recurring theme of natural beauty is analogous to his experiences and travels. Wordsworth recognizes the connections nature enables humans to construct. The beauty of a “wild secluded scene” (Wordsworth, 1798, line 6) allows the mind to bypass clouded and obscured thinking accompanied with man made environments....   [tags: poetry, natural beauty]

Research Papers
982 words (2.8 pages)

Abrams and Tintern Abbey Essay

- Abrams and Tintern Abbey In his essay, "Structure and Style in the Greater Romantic Lyric," critic M.H.Abrams describes a paradigm for the longer Romantic lyric of which Wordsworth's "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey" is an example. First, some of the poems are either identified as odes in the title, or, as Abrams states "approach the ode in having lyric magnitude and a serious subject, feelingfully meditated." (201) The narrator of "Tintern Abbey" expresses deep sensations as he views a landscape familiar from his youth, the emotions and memories evoked lead to wider moral and philosophical cogitations....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Research Papers
1349 words (3.9 pages)

The Influence of Nature in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

- The Influence of Nature in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth In "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey," William Wordsworth explains the impact of Nature from Tintern Abbey in his every day life. "Tintern Abbey" shows the great importance of nature to Wordsworth in his writings, love for life, and religion. The memories he has of Tintern Abbey make even the darkest days full of light. As a result of Wordsworth's many memories of Tintern Abbey, his life appears to be happy....   [tags: William Wordsworth Papers]

Research Papers
675 words (1.9 pages)

Taoist Reading of Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth Essay

- Wordsworth's 'hsü': towards a Taoist reading of Tintern Abbey Five years have passed; five summers, with the length Of five long winters. And again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain springs With a sweet inland murmur. (1-4) "Tintern Abbey"'s opening lines prepare the reader for a reunion, notable in tone not only for the sense of anticipation with which the poet apprehends this moment, but equally so for the poignancy which immediately inflects the poem's proceedings....   [tags: Poetry Religion Taoism]

Free Essays
1308 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Presentation on the Picturesque as a Rhetocial Device in Tintern Abbey

- Picturesque as Rhetorical Mode in "Tintern Abbey" Presentation Outline: 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)....   [tags: William Wordsworth Poetry]

Research Papers
3556 words (10.2 pages)

Theme of William Wordsworth as a Prophet in Tintern Abbey Essay

- Poet as Prophet When I spoke last, I ended with the image of Wordsworth as a monk or priest-like figure zealously converting Dorothy and, by extension, the reader into a position within his vision of the world. But even more than priest, Wordsworth often depicts the romantic poet as prophet. This depiction is demonstrated more clearly in "The Prospectus to the Recluse" than in "Tintern Abbey." In the 1814 version of the "Prospectus" he writes: Paradise, and groves Elysian, Fortunate Fields -- like those of old Sought in the Atlantic Main -- why should they be A history only of departed things, Or a mere fiction of...   [tags: Poetry Papers Essays]

Research Papers
1480 words (4.2 pages)

Essay A Quest For The Sublime Through Nature

- On a Quest for the Sublime through Nature Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth are both fine romantic poets who express their inner connection with nature in a way that alters their life in a substantial way. In both Samuel Coleridge’s, “Frost at Midnight” and William Wordsworth’s, “Tintern Abbey”, one can determine that both poets use descriptive imagery to alter the readers’ visual sense. The similarities are found in the structure in which both poets write. Both Coleridge and Wordsworth lament the past for not being as connected with nature as they should have been....   [tags: William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge]

Research Papers
1100 words (3.1 pages)

Comparing John Constable's Painting The Cornfield and William Wordsworth's Poem Tintern Abbey

- Representations of Time: Wordsworth and Constable I do not know how without being culpably particular I can give my Reader a more exact notion of the style in which I wished these poems to be written, than by informing him that I have at all times endeavored to look steadily at my subject; consequently, I hope that there is in these Poems little falsehood of description, and my ideas are expressed in language fitted to their respective importance. Something I must have gained by this practice, as it is friendly to one property of all good poetry, namely, good sense; but it has necessarily cut me off from a large portion of phrases and figures of speech which from father to son have long...   [tags: Wordsworth Constable Art Poetry Painting]

Research Papers
1607 words (4.6 pages)