chapter  4
Wordsworth’s Model of Man in ‘The Prelude’
WithDavid Aers
Pages 18

The dominant stream of commentary on William Wordsworth’s work seems to have been much impressed by many Wordsworth’s quest for such an ‘illusion’ was part and parcel of his model of man. This chapter describes Wordsworth’s writing as seriously as he himself, his admirers and his classic status as a major author in the official study of English literature all demand. One relevant contrast with both Langland’s and William Blake’s writing is that while Wordsworth has much to say about ‘creative agency’ he virtually ignored the role of work in shaping people’s attitudes and lives. Wordsworth exults in ‘the force of those gigantic powers’ which human technology can control, and his ‘dominion over nature gained’. The chapter traces Wordsworth’s account of his sympathy with the French Revolution does little to modify the tendencies. The unreflexive class-bound nature of Wordsworth’s standpoint is marked.