Resolution and Independence: Questions & Answers

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Q. 1. In no other poet does Nature figure so predominantly as in Wordsworth. Bring out the truth of this statement with reference to Resolution and Independence.
“Nature and human life are indissolubly inter-related in the poetry of Wordsworth”. Illustrate with special reference to Resolution and Independence.

      Ans. (i) Wordsworth is, of course, a poet of Nature. But it would not do to ignore his concern with mankind.

      (ii) Wordsworth held Nature to be a guide and teacher.

      (iii) His decision to choose humble classes for the subject matter of his poetry was based on his belief that these people show the elemental passions and emotions, because they live close to Nature.

      (iv) Nature’s moral influence is to be seen exemplified in these simple humble folk. It is thus that Nature and human life are interrelated in Wordsworth’s poetry.

      (v) Resolution and Independence was aptly subtitled “The Leech-Gatherer”, for its main human figure is a leech-gatherer. He lives simply, earning a hard and wearying livelihood, wandering in silent solitude over the vast moors.

      (vi) In close contact with Nature, and away from the artificialities of city life, this old man has gained a dignity and nobility.

      (vii) Nature and man seem to be one, as the poet perceives the leech-gatherer standing beside a pond. He is compared to a stone and a sea-beast and later to the motionless cloud—all conveying a sense of impervious determination and freedom of will and courage.

      (viii) Old age has weakened the body but not the spirit of the leech-gatherer. His resolution and his independence are the direct outcome of his intimate contact with Nature. In him can be discerned the lonely grandeur of the hills and moors among which he wanders.

      (ix) The leech-gatherer’s account of his way of life forcefully strikes the poet, who was in a depressed state of mind when he met the old man. His words were dignified and elegant.

      (x) Significantly, Wordsworth feels the old man to be some kind of warning from God. In his imagination, he follows the old man wandering across the vast moors, lonely, hardworking and silent.

      (xi) The poet learns a lesson and feels reproved for his own fears and weakness. In future, he feels, he would derive strength from recollecting the old leech-gatherer when overcome with misgivings.

      (xii) Thus does Wordsworth link Nature and man in the poem. The poem has images which reflect the gaiety of Nature—joy of early morning, birds singing, the pleasant noise of waters, warbling skylarks and racing hares. But it is most striking for the manner in which Wordsworth interprets the movements of man in the light of the processes of Nature.

      (xiii) If it is possible to get a moral lesson from the leech-gatherer, it is because he has lived close to nature.

Q. 2. Bring out the moral and justify the title of the poem, Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth.

      Ans. (i) The poem begins with the poet sinking into a mood of dejection after a moment of happiness.

      (ii) Suddenly, he meets the old leech-gatherer, who, on being questioned, gives an account of his way of life.

      (iii) The poet is struck by the hardships and loneliness which the old man has to face mid which he does with perseverance and stoic dignity.

      (iv) The old man’s words evoke a life of unsettled wandering, depending upon chance for food and shelter and yet undaunted in spirit. The poet feels that God has sent the old man specially to warn him against the weakness he had displayed in fearing about his own future. He would now gratefully remember the old leech-gatherer’s courage and determination, his resolution to live his life without whining and his living without grumbling about its difficulty.

      (v) The title has obvious moral overtones. Wordsworth could never ignore the chance to moralize on Nature’s influence or the simple dignity of humble rustic life.

Q. 3. Wordsworth believed that humanity flourishes more fully in the country than in the city, among the humble classes than in circles of greater refinements. Consider how far this is exemplified in the poem Resolution and Independence?

      Ans. Wordsworth’s Belief that Poetry should deal with Humble Folk: One of the great convictions of Wordsworth to which he gives expression in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads is that it is possible to get to the root of humanity and understand the essential workings of the human mind when we deal with the more humble classes of mankind. Perhaps to some extent, this is ture. The more humble the position of a man is, the more akin to nature he is generally found to be. Artificiality of outlook and manners comes with the so-called refinements of modern civilization. Civilization and refinement often hide and dim the truly natural instinct in human beings. This possibly is what Wordsworth means when he prefers to unravel the essential humanity in us through characters belonging to the more humble classes in society.

      Typical Rustic Figure: The leech-gatherer is typical of the characters delineated by Wordsworth in his poems. He is old and infirm following a precarious employment, but having a hopeful outlook in the midst of difficulties and uncertainty. He is not educated or refined in any sense of the terms, yet he offers great inspiration to men of culture and understanding and civilization like Wordsworth. The simple words in which he explains his occupation and its hazards touch us to the quickly as they did Wordsworth, as refinement generally comes to man along with more and more of artificiality. 

      Significance of the Old Man: It would be difficult to get the intrinsic quality of a person as a human being unless these artificialities are all removed. Such a difficulty does not arise in the case of persons who live a humble life like that of the leech-gatherer, and have no trappings to cover their essential nature. So it is that a leech-gatherer was able to impress Wordsworth much more than any of the sophisticated section of humanity he often met within towns. This explains Wordsworth’s great desire to be in greater Communion with natural objects uncorrupted by artificial civilization, in order to attain the harmony of the soul.

      Conclusion: Whether or not this theory is infallibly correct, it is worth noting that the poet has a great desire to penetrate through artificialities to that which is essentially human. This purpose is definitely fulfilled by a character like the leech-gatherer. His action and words are steeped in life which belongs to the permanent foundations of human existence. Wordsworth is not only interested in men, but in men as part and parcel of the grand phenomena of Nature.

Q. 4. The characters that we meet in some of the narrative poems of Wordsworth are “types rather than individuals”. Comment.

      Ans. Resolution and Independence and Michael are two of Wordsworth’s memorable narrative poems. In either poem, one single character figures prominently. Wordsworth shows the greatness of human nature in the character of the rustic, unspoiled by artificial conventions. While one can call the leech-gatherer a “typical” figure in that he personifies a spirit of endurance, he is also individualized by his vivid speech and clear mind. Michael too, cannot be called a “type”. He may at times remind us of the great Biblical heroes; there is something compelling in his quiet grief. He is more than a mere shepherd who has lost his son to the glamour of the city. He stands in our imagination with pathos and sublimity as enduring as the eternal hills. These characters are both typical and individualized.

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