Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
As man searches for personal freedom he is confronted with limitations which not only complicate his quest, but remind him of his fragile human condition. The more he struggles with these limitations the more he questions the reality of ultimate freedom.
In the following thesis selected poems of William Wordsworth and Robert Frost are used to define man's limitations and illustrate the various ways man attempts to overcome them.
The first chapter explores some of the ways man limits his own personal growth. An individual's fear, indecision, and lack of creativity, for example, often prevent him from moving forward in the direction of freedom. This discussion leads to the matter of how man is limited by other men, both in the problems created by personal relationships and society as a whole.
The third and fourth chapters present those limitations which are imposed on man by the greater forces of Nature, Time, and Space. Man's inability to overcome the power of Nature, to control the passing of time, and to fully understand the complexities of the universe, force him to submit to his limited state of existence.
Robert Frost suggests a philosophy of simple acceptance. Once man realizes his limitations and learns to live with them, he will find happiness, peace, and a satisfying sense of freedom. Delving too deeply into the mysteries of life is a futile exercise, resulting in frustration and confusion.
William Wordsworth, on the other hand, puts faith in the power of the imagination as the key to freedom. Once the imagination is discovered and developed by the guiding hand of Nature, man is no longer a limited being. His imagination provides him the freedom· to view the world creatively and attain joy and peace in his earthly life.
Placing the works of two poets of two completely different literary periods side by side, supports the idea that man continually contemplates his limited existence. Furthermore, each poet offers the hope that man can indeed live happily despite his limitations.
Maier, Anne C., "Man's Search for Freedom: A Continuing Theme in the Poetry of William Wordsworth and Robert Frost" (1982). English Master’s Theses. 55.