Discovering the Father in William Wordsworth's Poetry and Drama



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William Wordsworth is often considered the poet of nature, but he is also the poet of fathers. This study seeks to support this notion by examining Wordsworth's early and late poetry, as well as Wordsworth's only play, The Borderers. By providing a close reading of texts that involve fathers and their families, this study offers four components in building Wordsworth's poetic definition of father: the Sublime element of Nature that creates the poet; the suffering father who is overmatched in atrophied community; the abandoning father who has left the family in turmoil but can never escape himself; and finally, the child who is father of the man, perhaps Wordsworth's most famous notion of the father. Thus, Wordsworth's poetic definition of the father is quite complex, moving in dramatic swings from grand heights to the depths of despair: Sublime creator to ultimate sufferer and heavenly child to pathetic vagrant. Appearing throughout Wordsworth's works, the father casts a long, polarizing shadow, revealing a poet in the anxious state of revering him for his glorious creation and fearing for his potential ruin.