Streepey 1 Lindsey Streepey Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric Mr.

Milberger January 25, 2013 Sonnet Analysis In the sonnet “The World is Too Much With Us” William Wordsworth describes how the world during the Industrial Revolution is so convoluted that society does not realize the world‟s natural beauty. He thinks that humanity is too absorbed with obtaining frivolous objects and, as a result, society does not have time to value the world and everything it has to offer. Wordsworth thinks that society‟s obsession with “getting and spending” has affected their ability to appreciate the earth in its natural state. William Wordsworth uses pathos to portray the disturbing culture of the Industrial Revolution where people are obsessed with power and money and disregard nature‟s natural beauty because they are absorbed with themselves. The tone of the poem is mournful and sorrowful because the author is disheartened at what he sees happening in the world during the time of the industrial revolution. During the 19th century, having power was a critical goal of most people during that time period because of the Industrial Revolution when this sonnet was written. Wordsworth wrote about nature because he “developed a great love of nature” (Fralin 1). The attainment of power is one of the reasons that the appreciation of nature has depleted. People became focused only on themselves and looking out for what was the best for themselves. Wordsworth focuses on the “materialistic mindset [that] threw society out of harmony with nature” (British Literature Responses 1). It is because of society‟s fixation with materialistic objects that they cannot recognize the true beauty of nature.

Streepey 2 The sonnet is focused around humanity‟s failure to appreciate the world for what it is. However, the disregard of nature represents a deeper problem within our society. Our world is focused around power and money. This has lead to the destruction of the natural world and the hope that the world will go back to the way it was is also destroyed. The sonnet was written during the first Industrial Revolution when society was focused on the urban life because that‟s where the factories were. Wordsworth states “little we see in Nature that is ours.” Most of the world has been man made and is artificial by this point in time. Because of this, society lost its connection to nature. He writes that “we are out of tune” with the natural world because humanity is too involved with themselves. Humans did not notice the beauty that nature has to offer. He mentions that he is “standing on [a] pleasant lea” which is a pasture. He is looking at the world around him without the distractions of the society during his own time period. He thinks that it is “forlorn” and plain without the embellishments humanity has added to it. However, he doesn‟t give an opinion of whether or not he likes how calm and plain the meadow is. This allows the reader to determine whether or not the plainness of the pasture is a good thing or not. Wordsworth‟s focus on nature in the sonnet emphasizes society‟s stark neglect of nature. Wordsworth uses pathos to draw to the emotion of the reader to realize that the world is in fact too overwhelming. He thinks that the world has been taken over by us and therefore we cannot understand that it is necessary to take time and focus on nature. When he describes “Little we see in Nature that is ours” he is appealing to society‟s sight and describing that they have blindness to what is happening around them in nature. It is a scary realization that they are as

Streepey 3 good as blind when it comes to the world around them. The frightening awareness will cause some people to want to discover nature if they have become too involved in their own interests. Wordsworth then uses sound to appeal to the reader‟s sense of hearing. Wordsworth says „how the winds will be howling at all hours.” But he is not referring to the actually wind, he is referring to “internal noises, or the noise of industry at all hours” (Fralin 1). Normally wind is associated with nature and the wind blowing through the tress but the reader is taken aback when it is realized that Wordsworth is referring to the sound of industry. It is apparent that Wordsworth wishes we could recognize nature‟s inner beauty. Wordsworth‟s subtle use of pathos is present throughout the poem and draws to the emotions of the reader in order to stress humanity‟s disregard for nature. Wordsworth seems as though he is depressed for the lack of appreciation for nature. He says, “We have given our hearts away.” This line draws attention to the word “heart” because it is the part of our body that feels emotions. Wordsworth thinks that because society has overlook nature that they cannot have feelings as well and have therefore given away their own hearts. The inability to feel sadness or happiness is a result of our society because of their obsession with “getting and spending” all the time. The recognition of what humanity has become can only restore their feelings as well as retain their hearts. Nature does not have the ability to move them at all anymore, “It moves us not.--Great God!” Even if their culture were exposed to nature it would still not move society because they would still not be able to appreciate it. “Move” is also a metaphor for a change in emotion because civilization used to have emotion towards nature but

Streepey 4 now it has changed where they have no feelings towards it. The changes in their emotions are caused by the modernization of their culture during the Industrial Revolution. The development of technology in that time period caused their world to be “too much with [them].” In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, they had grown immensely from technology. It would not have been possible to expand as much as they did without the advancement of technology. He composed this sonnet during the first industrial revolution when technology was being used to develop and advance the industry of the nation. Wordsworth thinks that the world has become too crowded and that the natural world cannot handle the additional resources and people. Wordsworth pities the world because humanity does not appreciate it and he uses pathos to make the reader feel guilty about it. “The World is Too Much With Us” looks down upon the materialization of the society during the Industrial Revolution and the neglect of nature as a result. Wordsworth uses pathos to make the reader recognize that they had destroyed the world with their motives of power and money. Wordsworth is ashamed of the lifestyle that developed during the 19th century and whishes that people would recognize the harm they are causing by disregarding nature.

Streepey 5 Works Cited Fralin. "Poetry Analysis: The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth." Authors' Den. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. "Poetry Analysis: The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth." Authors' Den. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.