An Analysis of William Wordsworth's "The Female Vagrant"

Essay by MEL2A-, September 2007

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In Wordsworth's narrative poem 'The Female Vagrant,' a British female vagrant who grew up in the country narrates her plight which took place during the later part of the eighteenth century when Britain was under urbanization, industrialization, and fighting in the American war for independence. Her plight was a result of the effects which these above mentioned events which were taking place in Britain had on her rural family life. This essay will explore how in the poem, 'The Female Vagrant' Wordsworth's portrays the effects of these events on rural family life.

Wordsworth portrays the effects of urbanization on rural family life as horrible. At the start, the female vagrant's life and her father's was like a happy dream; "One field, a flock, and what the neighbouring flood / Supplied, to him were more than mines of gold / Light was my sleep, my days in transport rolled,' (3-5) until the capitalists came; "Then rose a mansion proud our woods among / And cottage after cottage owned its sway,' (39-40) and "All, all was seized, and weeping side by side / We sought a home where we uninjured might abide / Can I forget the miserable hour'" (53-55).

Here Wordsworth portrays urbanisation as ruinous of rural life; rural families were relocated from their homes, sometimes forcefully, by the wealthy class who wanted to build their mansions on the rural folks' beautiful land.

At least the vagrant and her father found another home at the home of the vagrant's boyfriend; "And her whom he had loved in joy, he said / He well could love in grief…" (79-80). It suffices to say that urbanisation, industrialization, and war took place in complementary fashion and the effects of each of these were not in isolation of the effects of the other. For...