“The World is too Much with us” and “When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes” Essay
Updated: Apr 13th, 2020
In Wordsworth’s “The World is too Much with us” and Shakespeare’s “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes,” both express a sense of regret and loss. The poetry of both authors has always been distinguished with deep thoughts about eternity and the place of an individual in their contemporary world, so these two poems are an additional source in their creative activity offering a philosophical look at the life they had, though it was taken from different angles.
Both authors had a huge, essential dilemma they had to solve; they found some inconsistency in their lives and were looking for the way out. Finally, at the end of the poem, they showed the way out they imagined for themselves in that situation. So, finding out what the issue was and how they treated it is the subject of the present analytical paper.
Starting with the object of dissatisfaction, it is surely possible to say that Wordsworth and Shakespeare had absolutely different causes for regrets and worries, which is clearly seen from the very beginning of their poems. This way, Wordsworth was outraged by the tremendous change that happened with humanity marked with the sign of industrialization, commercialization, and pragmatism.
Wordsworth, famous with his tender and thoughtful attitude to nature, deep connection with it, bitterly admits that contemporary people lost the sense of beauty and grandness of nature and seized to notice it already, being preoccupied with their shallow and consumerist matters: “The world is too much with us; late and soon,/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;/Little we see in Nature that is ours;/We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (Lines 1-4).
Looking at this expressive observation, one cannot help noticing how disenchanted the author is in the humanity he sees every day and how sorry he is for them. He enumerates various splendid revelations of nature as examples of what people should admire, what they should never leave aside in their daily activities, to raise the slightest bit of the artistic sense that people have completely lost.
Such phenomena of nature, in the opinion of Wordsworth, cannot leave anyone indifferent: “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,/The winds that will be howling at all hours,/And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers (Lines 5-7).
Surely, they are a wonderful view for those who have not lost their humanity and are not driven through their lives only by the thirst for wealth and welfare. People who have preserved some humane traits and who can raise their eyes a bit higher than their trivial material matters are sure to enjoy the sight of those events and speculate over eternity, beauty and art.
But, no matter how strange, awful and bitter it seems, the poet admits that people fail to see that beauty and lose the sense of nature, unity with it completely: “For this, for everything, we are out of tune;/It moves us not” (Lines 8-9).
Getting back to William Shakespeare and the source of his dissatisfaction and regrets, one can see the obvious reason for his drama already in the title. Shakespeare also feels betrayed by people, lonely and misunderstood, seeing no ways out and addressing his mourns to the skies that remain silent (this way the author stresses his despair and the dead end at which he is driven by his troubles): “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,/I all alone beweep my outcast state,/And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,/And look upon myself, and curse my fate” (Lines 1-4).
From these words one can see how mad the narrator has been driven by the spiritual tortures that he experiences – beweeping his “outcast state”, he shows that he has nobody to share his troubles with and to ask for a piece of advice.
Being an outcast is an awful state for the narrator that is transformed into jealousy towards others who have everything he does not have. The narrator dreams of having friends, of having hope (i.e. being optimistic and determined), he wants to be capable of things that other people can do (mentioning others’ “skills”, “scope” etc.).
However, despite the scale of drama both authors have in connection with their inner state of mind, the situation in their life or their artistic perception of the spiritual downfall of the contemporary nation, they do not only beweep their misfortunes, but also find some alternative to get rid of the feeling of despair and sufferings present in their lives. Knowing that they cannot change the situation at present, they find alternative ways to deal with it.
For example, Wordsworth, knowing that he alone would change nothing in the whole world, aspires being born in another time and being brought up as a pagan, far from the welfares of civilization, being able to admire the nature without any interruptions and challenges: “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,/Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;/Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;/Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn” (Lines 11-14).
Shakespeare finds another salvation from his despair; he recollects his beloved woman and keeps himself afloat in the sea of disdain only due to the great feeling of love that saves people from the hardest situations.
In this feeling he feels much greater than all those who he has just admired, and confesses that he would have never exchanged his fate for their one, being then deprived of the opportunity to write poetry and to cherish his beloved woman: “Haply I think on thee,–and then my state/…sings hymns at heaven’s gate;/For thy sweet love remembers such wealth brings/That then I scorn to change my state with kings” (Lines 10-14).
As one can see, each opoet finds his refuge from the injustice, cruelty, and toughness of the world and society surrounding them. Each poem is distinguished with great expressiveness and shows the inner sufferings of an artistic soul. But, as genuinely great authors, both Shakespeare, and Wordsworth find the way to deal with it and bring the beauty to the world through their verses, which is the greatest step they could have made and the greatest contribution successive generations appreciate.
Shakespeare, William. “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes“. 2010. Web.
Wordsworth, William. “The World Is Too Much with Us”, 1807. Web.
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