Academic journal article Researchers World

An Ecocritical Analysis of Lord Alfred Tennyson's in Memoriam and the Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Academic journal article Researchers World

An Ecocritical Analysis of Lord Alfred Tennyson's in Memoriam and the Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Article excerpt

Ecocriticism started in the 1990s and rapidly grew because of its significance for environmental concerns. Ecocriticism discusses the interrelations between literature and the natural environment. In USA it began in late 1980s with the appearance of William Rueckert's essay 'Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism' (1978). The term 'ecocriticism' was also first used by Rueckert. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm edited The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmark in Literary Ecology (1996). Ecocriticism is called Green Studies in UK where Jonathan Bate's Romantic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition (1991) is the first book on this theory.

Inspiration for the development of Ecocriticism was derived from the writings and ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller -the American writers. Similarly Romantic poets inspired it in UK. These literary personalities emphasized the importance of natural world which separated them from other literary movements as Neo-Classicism and Augustan age in England and Enlightenment and Puritinism in America.

Ecocriticism explored the literary representation of natural world and environmental concerns, "Texts are evaluated in terms of their environmentally harmful or helpful effects" (Kerridge, 2006, p. 530). Environment comprises not only the natural world but everything which exists on the planet earth. Ecocriticism is growing further by encompassing other fields as ecofeminism, Deep Ecology, social or Marxism ecology, queer ecology, postcolonial ecology, and deconstruction ecology. These subfields studied environmental issues from their respective grounds.

Ecocriticism also explored the concepts of culture versus nature, mind versus body, self versus other etc. It studied how nature is represented in literary works and how it influence the meaning of the works, "The challenge for ecocritics is to keep one eye on the ways in which 'nature' is always in some ways culturally constructed, and the other on the fact that nature really exists, both the object and, albeit distantly, the origin of our discourse" (Garrard, 2012, p. 10).

The British poet Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) and the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) used the natural world of flora and fauna abundantly in their poetic oeuvre. Lord Alfred Tennyson gives us another perspective of the depiction of nature from a queer mind and soul. Tennyson is the best poet of Victorian age and depicts the dilemma of the Victorian Compromise. He expresses his views about the ongoing degradation of moral and religious values and he hints at the social, cultural, environmental, and natural destruction due to industrialization, "No poet has ever or since been more closely associated with his times than Alfred Tennyson. The Victorians were captivated by his poetry" (Mazzeno, 2004, p. 1).

A very crucial point to note about the depiction of nature at the hands of Tennyson is that he does not idealize it as the Romantic poets. Rather his is a minute, close and scientific observation of nature. Tennyson believes that human beings used to interpret nature according to their moods, rather than the true nature which exists in itself, irrespective to the human beings. And we can see a lot of examples of this sort in his poetry. He depicts all parts of nature from landscapes to seascapes, forests to inhabited areas, villages to cities etc.

Similarly Emily Dickinson is one of the earliest female poets of the new found land of America. She has spent most of her time living in isolation far away from the over-crowded industrial and urban areas. Her isolation provided her an independent life which was free from the constraints of the society. This independent spirit reflected throughout her poetry. She celebrated the natural world through which she got an impression of the existence of God. Representation of natural world, dealing with the emotion of love and friendship are some of the main features of her poetry. …

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