Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stunted Growth in "The Thorn"

The prevalence of the language of stunted growth in Wordsworth's "The Thorn" was a particularly striking aspect of the poem, particularly when taken in conjunction with the brilliant and beautiful grave lying next to it. The thorn itself is twisted and disfigured in its place on the mountain, into "a mass of knotted joints, / A wretched thing forlorn," which is further weighted down by
A melancholy crop:
Up from the earth these mosses creep,
And this poor Thorn they clasp it round
So close, you’d say that they are bent
With plain and manifest intent
To drag it to the ground.
By casting this entity, as well, as "Not higher than a two year's child," Wordsworth completes an image that is rife with the idea that something inherently wild, enraged, and untamed in the mountain has served to disfigure the thorn, creating of it something ugly and stunted. By then equating Martha Ray with the mountain,
I thought I saw
A jutting crag,—and off I ran,
Head-foremost, through the driving rain,
The shelter of the crag to gain;
And, as I am a man,
Instead of jutting crag, I found
A Woman seated on the ground
Wordsworth suggests that perhaps there is something of the disfiguring madness in her, that worked on her unborn child in the same way that the nature of the mountain worked on the thorn, created something stunted, unable to fully bloom, as the moss on the grave has.

1 comment:

  1. In light of the discussion that we had on Thursday, I think that your phrase, "...the nature of the mountain worked on the thorn, created something stunted, unable to fully bloom..." is right on the money. Oh dear, that was a horrible cliche... anyway, moving on. We talked about how society had forced these women into the desperate positions and how society, thus, society is guilty. Society, however, does not want to face its guilt and that is why no one wants to go up to the thorn while the woman is there. But she has become a "mass of knotted joints / A wretched thing forlorn"--something "ugly and stunted"--by the pressures and prejudices of a society that has not allowed her to bloom. The growth of women--intellectually and socially--has been stunted by a male-dominated society.