Wordsworthian community on death and suffering: "essays upon Epitaphs," "the Old Cumberland Beggar," and "the Thorn"

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Theessay analyzes how in Wordsworth a community integrates the loss of the seemingly or actually dead into the community's natural and social surroundings without reduction of their differences. In the Essays upon Epitaphs, Wordsworth treats the inherent communitarian value of the grave and the epitaph that binds together the living and the dead, which makes up the society's encircled core. Through the burial practice and epitaphic writing social bonds are created and individuals joined. In "The Old Cumberland Beggar," the old beggar is a kind of ghost, neither living nor dead; neither "properly" excluded nor incorporated in the community. He is constantly re-examined and re-interpreted by the villagers: observing the beggar leads them to a greater understanding of the self. Outside the community the beggar becomes a bond of compassion that binds all villagers and forges social cohesion. Martha Ray's suffering in "The Thorn" also stitches together the community that is held in the grip of voyeurs and gossips. The narrator and the villagers repeatedly circle back to the enigma of her grief. They transmit and create her tales during which they constantly experience their togetherness in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-460
Number of pages14
JournalForum for World Literature Studies
Volume7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015 Sep 1

Fingerprint

death
community
social cohesion
grief
funeral
Beggars
Thorn
Epitaph
society
Values
experience
William Wordsworth

Keywords

  • "Essays upon Epitaphs"
  • "The Old Cumberland Beggar"
  • "The Thorn"
  • Community
  • Death
  • Suffering
  • Wordsworth

Cite this

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