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Fostered alike by beauty and by fear

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I have chosen to explore paragraphs 8, 9 and 11 to interpret what Wordsworth might have meant by this quote. The use of ‘fostered’ creates the impression of a parent or guardian, and with such a high regard for nature I wonder whether this quote is aimed at her and her so called actions that only Wordsworth seems to feel and encounter.

Episode 8 begins with the lines; he seems at one with where he used to live in ‘that beloved Vale’ and the cold language Wordsworth includes such as ‘frost’, ‘the breath of frosty wind’ and ‘snapped’ reflect how he feels now. Things aren’t as happy and pleasant as they were in his ‘much favoured’ birthplace Cockermouth. There is a sudden change of mood as he describes the freedom of the woodcocks, Wordsworth illustrates his love for solitude ‘to range the open heights’ and adds an excited tone ’twas my joy’ whilst catching them.

But the use of ‘night’ is a stereotypical technique to suddenly indicate bad happenings, there is a constant awareness of the universe by Wordsworth that heightens the fear that follows with ‘moon and stars were shining o’er my head. I was alone.’ Wordsworth usually seeks solitude as he loves to be alone with nature to let his imagination get the better of him, but in this instance he seems frightened due to the eerie tone created. He knows he’s been doing wrong by catching the birds ‘I piled’ shows he was sneaking as if hiding from nature herself, Wordsworth says he ‘seemed to be a trouble to the peace’ like he had disturbed her by doing this act.

This is reinforced when he goes on to say ‘when the deed was done I heard among the solitary hills low breathings coming after me,’ presenting nature as a moral educator evoking fear as he has done wrong. Nature acts like a parent at the beginning when Wordsworth states ‘I grew up fostered alike by beauty’ and also at the end of this passage ‘low breathings coming after me’ when we get the image of an angry parent. He feels this overwhelming presence due to the power of his imagination, the romantic poets which Wordsworth was part of believed that you needed solitude to express and find your individuality and imagination.

Wordsworth conveys his imagination again in the 9th passage where he again is up to no good stealing eggs or perhaps to encounter the experience again see if nature reacts, It’s clear he knows he’s doing wrong ‘though mean our object and inglorious,’. In the short paragraph Wordsworth gives the impression that the wind had a purpose there as he struggled through the difficulties of the ‘slippery rock’, he says ‘and almost (so it seemed) suspended by the blast that blew’, adding wonder with the sounds ‘oh’, ‘hung alone’ and ‘blow’ through assonance. He hangs alone but is in the company of the wind and doesn’t in this passage seem to mind even though it is uttering he’s wrong.

Wordsworth goes on to say and end with ‘the sky seemed not the sky of earth-and with what motion moved the clouds!’ the exclamation mark emphasises his wonder of the difference he feels. This paragraph is easy to imagine due to Wordsworth’s good use of alliteration ‘motion moved’ and assonance that assist in reflecting his experience. There is a calm tone at the very end with a soft use of ‘clouds’ to show his height and closeness he feels to nature at this point. Wordsworth was worrying in passage 5, he thought he wouldn’t be able to express his experiences so the reader can relate to them and re-live his encounters ‘Lofty, but unsubstantial structure melts’, he felt he couldn’t see a way through it but here he has proved he can do it.

Throughout paragraph 11 Wordsworth personifies nature highlighting the relationship he seems to have with her for instance he says ‘One summer evening (led by her)’ when he steals a boat. He again feels guilty like all the other instances, showing he has got a conscience which possibly was helped put there by nature, ‘It was an act of stealth and troubled pleasure,’ but it doesn’t seem to stop him. It’s a very descriptive passage ‘small circles glittering idly on the moon,’ showing his love of his surroundings, it’s in a beautiful setting and seems perfect reflected in the ‘summers evening’ which begins the story, his senses were alive! But this is soon contrasted.

There is again this constant theme of Wordsworth being aware of how small he is ‘for above was nothing but the stars and the grey sky’ In comparison to the universe. He fixes his view on a ‘craggy ridge,’ we then have this beautiful image, created through the simile ‘went heaving through the water like a swan;’ we feel the freedom he enjoys. But it is contrasted suddenly with ‘a huge peak, black and huge,’ the repetition of ‘huge’ increases the fear, due to Wordsworth’s heightened perception suddenly we get this frightening description perhaps due to his own guilt, when he refers to his chosen point with monster imagery.

He says this creature ‘up reared its head’ personifying nature again to make this monster more vivid and realistic. This sense of fear enhances as he ‘struck and struck’ at his oars trying to get away and Wordsworth’s use of language with ‘grim shape’, ‘towered’ and ‘trembling’ reinforces the tone, ‘silent water’ adds to the terror because in certain situations as we saw in the 8th passage can add to the unease. The passage ends negatively, there seems there’s nothing attractive left ‘hung a darkness’, ‘No familiar shapes’, ‘no pleasant images of trees’ and ‘no colours of green fields;’ the repetition of ‘no’ shows his mood now nature seems more like an enemy shown also in the way Wordsworth used monster imagery earlier on. In the passage Wordsworth’s feelings take over from reason which is what most romantic poets tended to do, he sees where he’s heading as a ‘craggy ridge’ but then it turns into some live, scary creature as his sensibility takes over.

Through these three paragraphs there is a noticeable connection between when Wordsworth is doing wrong and the mood in nature suddenly changing because of this. He seems to sense when nature changes, even if others don’t like he states in passage 13 ‘Of melancholy not unnoticed’. The personification frequently used by Wordsworth shows how highly he regards his beautiful surroundings and the relationship he has with nature. Nature in a way acts like a parent in Wordsworth’s mind ‘Fostered alike by beauty and by fear’, where beauty seems to refer to nature and fear in the change and punishment because he’s done wrong. Wordsworth can appreciate and relate to the beauty of nature and her changes having grown up with her when very young in Cockermouth and still in it’s presence in Hawkshead.

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