William and Dorothy Wordsworth Compared: As Brother and Sister and as Writers.
There is no doubt that there are strong similarities between Dorothy Wordsworth’s “Grasmere Journal” and William Wordsworth’s poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. The relationship between these two pieces is clearly illuminated by Frances Wilson and his critical take upon events highlighted in Dorothy’s Journal. As well as Wilson, Susan M. Levin also takes a theoretical look at the relationship, suggesting that Dorothy’s Works should be sufficiently analyzed and to proclaim Dorothy as a writing “genius” rather than “a member of the Wordsworth household” (Levin, Subtle Fire: Dorothy Wordsworth’s Prose & Poetry, 345). This essay discusses the relationship between the two writings using Wilson’s critical view of events and to a lesser extent Levin’s theoretical reading.
The relationship between William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy has been one of the most talked about in the English language, and rightfully so. After being separated as a result of their mother's passing, William and Dorothy's lives were changed drastically (Wilson, Wordsworths in Love, 1). It wasn't until the death of their father that brought brother and sister back together again, to re-kindle that bond they never really got to experience as they grew up (Ibid). It was the developing of this bond that played such an important role in both William and Dorothy's literary lives. This is clearly illuminated by Frances Wilson. Wilson talks of the intriguing and intimate relationship between both Dorothy and William. Taking into account Dorothy's “Grasmere journal”, Wilson brings to light the weird ceremony William shared with his sister on his wedding day. “Earlier that day in the same room, William and Dorothy had performed a private ceremony of their own. She had removed the wedding ring she had been wearing all night and handed it back to him. He had then returned it to her finger before taking it away again to place on the hand of Mary” (Ibid). The ring was intended to be worn by Mary Hutchison, William’s soon to be wife. It would not be unusual for people to question the relationship between William and Dorothy after hearing about this private ceremony of theirs. It is undoubtedly out of the norm and would have been damaging to both their reputations, especially William’s if anyone would have gotten word of it back then. It seemed as though someone did not want anyone finding out about this secret as Wilson goes on to explain how the passage describing this ceremony “was later heavily scored out in black”(Ibid). It goes without saying though, that Dorothy did have an effect upon William himself and his writing. Wilson once again shows how the two forged a special type of bond between one another. He points out the fact that, in the result of the two losing both their parents, William and Dorothy “became parents to one another” in a sort of attempt to “replace the home that had been taken from them” (Ibid). Dorothy would also play a profound role in William’s writing career. It was at the beginning of “Wordsworth’s most creative period” that the two finally started living together (Ibid). At this stage Dorothy had become William’s “muse” giving him “ears and eyes” and was to William “the essence of Romantic sensibility” (Ibid). Dorothy would follow and do anything for William. She was often seen by the villagers picking up pieces of paper he had dropped behind him (Ibid). Not only did Dorothy play a part in William’s writing, she also had an effect upon his personal lifestyle (Ibid). Even when William was married with Mary Hutchison, they had to hide “the depth and exclusivity of their love” from Dorothy (Ibid, 2). It was “only when Dorothy’s back was turned could they steal a kiss or share a private thought” (Ibid). William even discouraged Mary from writing over affectionately in their letters in case it upset Dorothy (Ibid). The relationship Dorothy and William...
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