By: Bethany McPhee (170)
Submitted to: Professor Gonam Raju
14 January 2015
Analysis of “The World is Too Much With Us”
In this essay the poem, “The World is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth will be analyzed. I chose to analyze this specific poem because I myself am a lover of nature and I found that my own thoughts and feelings about today’s world are very similar to those in the poem. Wordsworth’s poem seeks to remind us of the beautiful world that God created and urges us to look up from our technology and industrialization to take in the natural world once more. I found this poem incredibly easy to read and simple to interpret. However, the poem only appears simple, as it is also very complex and thought provoking in meaning, much like nature itself. The goal of this paper is to transport the reader from simply understanding the words of this poem to feeling and applying the words. In order to properly do this, several areas will be studied. First, the life of the author will be studied in order to provide context and allow the reader to see the poem through the eyes of Wordsworth. Next, the intended audience will be examined so that the reader knows how the author intended the poem to be interpreted. Thirdly, the main theme or message will be discussed in order to solidify the interpretation gleaned from the previous two sections. Following that, I will provide details of the emotions and senses that were provoked in me during my study of the poem and how they affected my interpretation. Finally, the poem will be compared to Christian worldviews in order to see how well they match up, as well as to ensure that the Christian properly applies what is read.
William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in a town in England known as Cockermouth (Barker, 2000, p.2). This area in which he grew up was apparently quite beautiful as it was near a river and was home to many wildflowers (Barker, 2000, p.3). As a child Wordsworth was known to spend his time “running races with his brothers, fishing, birds’ nesting, [and] exploring the hills, valleys, and length of the river” (Barker, 2000, p.3). This environment is probably what led Wordsworth to develop such a love of nature, which is clearly reflected in much of his work. This love of nature is especially shown in line ten of his poem where he states that he would “rather be a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn” than someone who ignores nature. This means that he would rather be part of an old, dead religion than miss out on nature, as he would be able to find such clear meaning in it as a Pagan. Wordsworth also lived his entire life during the Industrial Revolution, which was completely taking over Europe. He would have seen great change throughout the nation, which most likely inspired him to write this poem. Phrases like “getting and spending” and “we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” reflect Wordsworth’s feelings about the revolution (lines 2 and 4). The Industrial Revolution captivated everyone, and in a way, enslaved most of Europe. This sudden switch from life among nature to life among machines is clearly what inspired this poem. The poem itself was published in 1807, which would have been right in the thick of the revolution (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008, para. 3). Wordsworth was also in France for a part of the French Revolution, which also would have had a similar impact on his writing (Holman, Snyder, 2015, para. 3). Overall, Wordsworth was a witness to great change, especially change regarding man’s view of nature. This combined with his personal love of nature, inspired him to write this poem.
The audience the poet wishes to reach is most likely those living during the Industrial Revolution. Wordsworth’s poem clearly addresses issues such as materialism and industrialization in his poem, which he would have drawn from his experiences in the Revolution.