Monday, March 1, 2010

The supernatural, or lack thereof, in "The Brothers"

While this post sort of responds to Kathryn's, I didn't want to include it as a comment because I have some insights of my own. I agree that the idea of loneliness/homelessness as connected to the life of a sailor provides important insight into this poem. I hesitate, however, about the interpretation of the lightning strike in Wordsworth's "The Brothers" as a "supernatural" event. Obviously, the two streams are meant to represent the respective lives of the two brothers, and the extinguishing of James' stream by a bolt of lightning is no coincidence, but I think that this can be symbolic without being supernatural.

I think my hesitancy to incorporate the supernatural into this poem stems from my hesitancy to view the poem as Gothic. Even if we interpret the lightning strike and James' unusual sleepwalking as "unnatural" occurrences, this poem clearly lacks the characteristically Gothic traits that mark the poems we have read over the past couple weeks. There are no spirits, skulls, or murders; and although there is death, I find its circumstances to be more tragic than supernatural. While I find that Wordsworth is making inquiries into the notions of home, loneliness, abandonment, longing, responsibility, and regret - I see no need to incorporate the supernatural in order to interpret this poem. I do however, find the role of the unnatural (in terms of Leonard leaving his natural home, way of life, etc.) to be an important theme in the work.

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