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Romantic Quests vs.

New Criticism
Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson and Felicia Hemans

Starting Questions & Romantic Quest Defined Tinturn Abbey & Wordsworth John Keats & La Belle Dame Sans Merci; the images Tennyson & The Lady of Shalott New Criticism Keats and New Criticism Ode on Melancholy as an example Felicia Hemans

Starting Questions
What do you think about the poems youve read (Tinturn Abbey La Belle Dame Sans Merci Lady of Shalott)? Do you appreciate their concerns or find them boring? What does Quest mean? Are you in any kind of quest?

Romantic Quests
The Sublime; Transcending the human Truth in Nature, Democracy Beauty Art

Women, Nature, Medievalism

Romanticism Defined

The poets

Wordsworths Tinturn Abbey

What is it about? How is this poem similar to I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud? To understand the poem, you need to 1) pay attention to changes of tenses; 2) Syntax (where subjects and verbs are) and conjunctions (e.g. such as, so that, nor) reading



Cottages, Orchards, Hedgerow


Tinturn Abbey: Structure

1. Re-Visiting 2. The influences of memories of the natural scenes; --from sensations to vision on life; 3. Addressing the Wye river; 4. Back to the present moment, to think over the future and the past. 5. Turn to his sister, to find hope in his sister and to strengthen her against future decay.

Wordsworths Tinturn Abbey

1. Pay attention to the many repetitions in this poem. Do they correspond to the content of the poem? Are there beautiful lines in this poem? 2. What do you think about the speakers views of
1) natures influence on us (ll. 122-134), and 2) our different experiences of nature at different ages of our lives (stanza 3)?

3. What role does the sister play in this poem?

Wordsworths Quests in Tinturn Abbey

Functions of repetition
1) (once again, how oft, ) to show changes; 2) (in which, in thy voice, so so) to reinforce his beliefs 3) alternates with the vivid descriptions.

Attempts to deal with aging, losses and even death. Seeks comfort in nature, but ultimately in the sisters remembering him. In this way, Nature is finally displaced. Actually, there are more displacements in this poem.

Tinturn Abbey in Context

French revolution in 1789, which inspired Wordsworth to visit France in 1791. He returned in despair in 1792. Two visits 1793 & 1798: Ws trip to Salisbury Plain and North Wales in the summer of 1793, and his return visit particularly to the abbey, on July 13, 1798. 1793 the publication of his first poems. 1798 the conception of the idea for Lyrical Ballads and then its publication. The poem, in this sense, is an important example of his poetic quest (for Nature or for Poetic Self).

Wordsworth & Tinturn Abbey

In the poem not a word is said about the French Revolution, the impoverished and country poor, orleast of allthat this event and these conditions might be structurally related to each other. (J. McGann 85-86)

Tinturn Abbey in 1790s

A favorite haunt of transients and displaced personsof beggars and vagrants of various sorts, including female vagrants. Wordsworth observes the tranquil orderliness of the nearby pastoral farms and draws these views into a relation with the vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods of the abbey. The poems method: to replace an image and landscape of contradiction with one dominated by the power/Of harmoney; or a picture of the mind.

John Keats (1795-1821 age 26)

His poetic quest is both difficult and brief. Family: His father died in a riding accident; his mother involved in a lawsuit against her own mother over inheritance. Keats nursed her mother when she was ill with T.B., and, later, his brother with T.B. Then finally he contracted the disease. clip on Keats

John Keats (1795-1821 age 26)

1810 -- Keats started out as an apprentice to an apothecary (pharmacist). 1813 -- He was inspired by Spenser and Homer. 1816 promoted to assistant surgeon but also started to publish his poems. 1817 publishes his first book; met Wordsworth, but didn't like him. 1818 nursed his brother; met Fanny Browne 1819 The Great Odes, and several other poems. Engaged to Fanny Brown; Fell ill.

Keats: Main Concerns in his Poetic Quest

Truth and Beauty vs. Mortality (vale of soul-making) Intense but Transient Sensual Pleasures in Nature He is always keenly aware of, or even relishes, the possible contradictions.

La Belle Dame reading

1. Plot & Theme: Is the woman real or not? What does she represent? Can you think of any similar experience to this? In other words, can the woman be symbolic of some ideal you pursue? 2. Plot & Theme: What are the functions of the dream(s)? 3. Structure: Beginning, middle and end? 4. Narration/Narrative Frames: Why doesnt the knight tell the story to us directly in a first-person narrative? Why is there another speaker in the poem? What does this speaker add to the poem?

La Belle Dame sans Merci?

Theme: Unrequited love, or obsession in an impossible quest?
The woman beautiful and weak, to be protected and decorated, love,. Impossible quest offers sweetness & love; a fairys child; as she did love; strange language; sigh full sore. sweet moan?

Images of la Belle Dame

John William Waterhouse

The latter painting reveals Waterhouse's growing interest in themes associated with the PreRaphaelites, particularly tragic or powerful femmes fatales.

Images of la Belle Dame

Left: Sir Frank Dicksee (British, 1853-1928) Right: Arthur Hughes (British, 18321915) Pre-Raphaelite Painter.

Images of la Belle Dame

Frank Cadogan Cowper, the last of the Pre-Raphaelites

La Belle Dame: theme & structure

The latest dream not the only dream, not only dreamed by him. The stranger describes the knight as well as the environment, thus provides a sense of reality (which can be abundant).

La Belle Dame vs. traditional ballads

Traditional ballads (Thomas the Rhymer): lack of self-consciousness. Keats: estranged personsthe knight by virtue of his experience with the elfin lady, and the balladeer by virtue of his narration of that experience. the irrevocable loss of an entire area of significant human experience as well as its meaning.

Representative of the Victorian views of literature/arts social functions. The Lady of Shalott significance:
reflects The Womans Question Two versions: 1833 and 1842 The most favoured of all Tennysonian subjects among the PRB.

Question I: what is the story about and how does the form help convey its meaning?

The Lady of Shalott

1. Structure: Part 1 1) Setting: the river & the fields, the road and the island; 2) Lady of Shalott observed and listened to; 3) Form: alternation of short and long lines. Part 2 Shalott in her tower, weaving and looking at the shadows on the mirror; sick when seeing funeral procession or lovers pass by. Form: long lines with mellifluous sounds.

The Lady of Shalott

1. Structure: Part 3 Lancelot passes by and Shalott turns to see him. Form: explosives + alliteration; images of light; ends with rep. of she in action. Part 4 Shalott leaves her tower to go to Camelot. Action (writing her name and singing). Form: explosives + mellifluous sounds and feminine rhymes.

The Lady of Shalott

1. Theme: What can the mirror be symbolic of? What does the lady want? 2. Does it matter why we dont know why the lady is cursed? 3. There are two versions of this poem: 1833 and 1842 versions. Compare the endings of these two versions. 4. Compare this poem with La Belle Dame by Keats. What aspects of Quest are presented in these two poems? Does gender make a difference here?

The Lady of Shalott

1833 version: the ending. They crossd themselves, their stars they blest, Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest. There lay a parchment on her breast, That puzzled more than all the rest, The wellfed wits at Camelot. The web was woven curiously, The charm is broken utterly, Draw near and fear not,--this is I, The Lady of Shalott.

Images of Shalott
William Holman Hunt, The Lady of Shalott,

allegorical elements:
Please pay attention to the wall's dark tapestries, "upon which swirl the twisting bodies of angelic and allegorical figures, while the two roundels supporting the great mirror feature scenes of the Fall and the nativity [Wadsworth]" (Pearce 79) exotic elements: sandals & samovars (Russian urn)

Images of Shalott
William Holman Hunt, The Lady of Shalott,

Images of Shalott
Elizabeth Siddal, The Lady of Shalott

Images of Shalott
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Lady of Shallott, 1857 Wood engraving, 35/16 x 31/16 in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

New Criticism: Methodology (1) Poetry

Figurative Language Denotations, connotations and etymological roots Allusions Prosody Relationships among the various elements


pattern, tension, ambiguities, paradox, contradictions


New Criticism: Methodology (2) Narrative


Narrator (Point of view), dialogue, setting, Plot Characterization Relationships among the various elements

harmonized pattern, tension, ambiguities, paradox, contradictions

John Keats -- & the New Critics

T.S. Eliot cited Ode to a Nightingale a case of impersonal art that he elevated over the Wordsworthian effect of expressing a personality. Keats: poet as camelian Wordsworthegotistical sublime; Keats: negative capability (an ability to negate self-interest) The Great Odes integration of intellect and emotion; form and content.

Ode on Melancholy
Note: To the Romantics, the word no longer signified a state of clinical gloominess, strangeness, and solitary wanderings. It implied a positive, heightened sensibility which could, of course, bring inspiration to the artist.

Ode on Melancholy
3 parts Part I: Do not use drugs or poison (traditional symbols of death & melancholy) to ease your pains; Part II: Rather savor melancholy to the fullest (through appreciating transient natural beauties or the mistresss anger). Part III. Because melancholy is inseparable from transient beauty, joy, painful pleasure, appreciated only by the one with fine palate.

Ode on Melancholy
Paradoxes 1. Negative imperative + active verbs; active pursuit of these easy means of escape will, in the end, get the soul drowned. 2. Paradox of birth+ death; beauty + transience; observation + eating; 3. Active pursuit of pleasures and pains turns the poet into something passive.

Keats Odes in the Eyes of New Critics & Deconstructionist

Its density suitable for close analysis; a totalizing principle as the guiding impulse Ironies a discontinuous world of reflective irony and ambiguity Paul De Man: Almost in spite of itself, this unitarian criticism finally becomes a criticism of ambiguity, an ironic reflection of the absence of the unity it has postulated. (Wolfson 191-92)

Keats Odes in the Eyes of New Critics & Deconstructionist

Example: Ode to a Nightingalean organic form, a unity encompassing the interrelation of its parts, its formal elements and its subject. (Brooks) a turmoil of disintegration (Wasserman) Keats Odes engagement with a state of perpetual indeterminacy

Womens Roles in Romantic Quests? Felicia Hemans

-- seen as angel by her contemporaries She seems to me to represent and unite as purely and completely as any other writer in our literature the peculiar and specific qualities of the female mind. . . The delicacy, the softness, the pureness, the quick observant vision, the ready sensibility, the devotedness, the faith of woman's nature (source:
http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/hemans/rfhemans.html )

-- Poetess, whose duties are to sing of domestic bliss e.g. The Homes of England -- exception Casabianca

Note: Romanticism
A movement in art and literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in revolt against the Neoclassicism of the previous centuries . . Imagination, emotion, and freedom are certainly the focal points of romanticism. Any list of particular characteristics of the literature of romanticism includes subjectivity and an emphasis on individualism; spontaneity; freedom from rules; solitary life rather than life in society; the beliefs that imagination is superior to reason and devotion to beauty; love of and worship of nature; and fascination with the past, especially the myths and mysticism of the middle ages.
(source: http://www.uh.edu/engines/romanticism/ )

Walfson, Susan J. Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism. Stanford 1997. McGann, Jerome. The Romantic Ideology: A Critical Investigation. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983. Pearce, Lynn. Women/Image/Text. London: Harvester/Wheatsheaf, 1991. Images of La Belle Dame Sans Meric http://www.artmagick.com/themes/theme4.aspx