A Critical Analysis of The World is too much with us by William Wordsworth

Poem Introduction:

Composed in 1806, this sonnet holds a significant place in literary history. First published in 1807, it embraces the Petrarchan or Italian form, showcasing the poet’s artistry in crafting poetic structure.

The advent of the Industrial Revolution in England ushered in a period of immense suffering for the working class. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few engendered a dearth of love and compassion among the populace. Wordsworth, deeply affected by these societal ills, became profoundly concerned about the future of his nation. This sonnet stands as his vehement protest against these troubling circumstances.

Central Idea:

The central theme of this poem revolves around the consequences of humanity losing its connection with nature. When individuals are no longer attuned to the beauty and grandeur of the natural world, their spiritual life diminishes, and their religious beliefs become empty rituals. The poem posits that the ancient Greeks’ reverence for the powers of nature surpasses the materialistic tendencies of the modern era. A living faith in Pantheism, embracing nature as divine, holds more merit than the lifeless formalism of worldly Christianity.

Moral of the Poem:

The poem conveys that a religion devoid of a profound appreciation for nature cannot be truly meaningful. It extols the virtue of a genuine faith in the beauty of the natural world, even if it is expressed through the imperfect conceptions of Greek Pantheism, over bondage to religious formulas lacking sincere belief in a higher creed.

“The World is too much with us” exemplifies Wordsworth’s signature style and diction, characterized by its distinctively Wordsworthian tone. Through this sonnet, he expounds upon his philosophy of nature, arguing vehemently in favor of paganism as a countermeasure to the detrimental effects of modern civilization. The central idea highlights humanity’s excessive materialism, rendering them oblivious to nature’s wonders. The poet welcomes the influence of paganism, which encourages a deeper connection with nature, thus alleviating feelings of desolation. Materialism, by instilling the values of sacrifice solely for material gain, has engendered misery and discontent in humanity.

While paganism is undoubtedly an antiquated belief system, postulating the existence of gods and goddesses in all natural phenomena, Christianity is often regarded as a more rational faith, substituting many gods with a single deity. However, even Christianity, in the face of burgeoning materialism, has succumbed to pretense. The old paganism of the ancient Greeks, though archaic, surpasses the new Christianity as it enables individuals to embrace and appreciate the innate beauty of the natural world. Wordsworth’s love for nature remains his primary concern, making him yearn to be “a pagan suckled in a creed outworn.”

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Bradley, an esteemed critic, asserts that this sonnet represents the most renowned expression in English literature of the yearning for the lost glory of Greek mythology, a sentiment prevalent in Romantic poetry. The vivid descriptions of “Proteus rising from the sea” and “Triton blowing his wreathed horn” showcase the poet’s artistry in painting vivid and captivating imagery. These depictions convincingly convey the notion that a pagan, adhering to the gods of Greek mythology, can truly appreciate the beauty of nature.

The poem’s remarkable quality lies in its exposition of the poet’s deep connection with nature. As a sonnet, it possesses an organic unity that evokes a singular emotional response. Its austere and grandiose tone resonates with echoes of Milton. However, in terms of emotional expression, the poem may not match the greatness of Wordsworth’s other notable works, such as “Daffodils” or “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal.” It is not born out of a profoundly personal experience but rather stems from a sense of disillusionment. Ethical considerations are apparent, as the poet attempts to infuse moral principles into his verse. Wordsworth’s greatness lies in the power of his emotions and the spontaneous overflow of his thoughts.

Although this sonnet may lack the spontaneity of expression found in Wordsworth’s earlier works, it remains a significant contribution to his poetic canon, shedding light on his evolving perspectives and his unwavering bond with nature.

Furthermore, the sonnet serves as a reflection of the poet’s maturing worldview and his growing concerns about the societal shifts brought about by industrialization. Wordsworth’s role as a moral guide and a poet with a social conscience becomes evident in this work.

While it may not possess the same lyrical brilliance as some of Wordsworth’s earlier sonnets, “The World is too much with us” stands as a testament to his enduring relevance and his ability to address contemporary issues through his poetry. The poem resonates with readers due to its universal message about the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with nature and the perils of unchecked materialism.

In the face of an increasingly mechanized and materialistic society, Wordsworth advocates for a return to the intrinsic value of nature. He asserts that by reconnecting with the natural world, individuals can rediscover their spiritual essence and reclaim a genuine sense of fulfillment. The sonnet encourages readers to resist the allure of material possessions and instead find solace and inspiration in the beauty and majesty of the natural environment.

Through his impassioned verses, Wordsworth implores humanity to embrace a more holistic and reverential approach to life, one that acknowledges the profound significance of nature and recognizes the inadequacy of a purely materialistic existence. He suggests that true fulfillment lies not in the accumulation of wealth or the pursuit of superficial pleasures but in developing a deep-rooted appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

In conclusion, “The World is too much with us” encapsulates Wordsworth’s profound insights into the human condition and his unwavering belief in the transformative power of nature. Its exploration of the detrimental effects of industrialization and materialism remains highly relevant in today’s world. By conveying his philosophy through the artistry of a sonnet, Wordsworth leaves an indelible mark on literature and inspires readers to reevaluate their relationship with the natural world.



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